The College Basketball season is another week old, and the SEC consistently provides the sport with several talented players and teams. The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is almost over, and the SEC enjoyed some highs and lows as a conference. Here are the 5 biggest takeaways from the first weekend for the SEC.
1. Kentucky’s Amazing Week
The first weekend simply could not have went any better for the Kentucky Wildcats.
First, they took care of business and beat a dangerous Davidson team to avoid what was a very trendy 12-5 upset. Kevin Knox was the big star in this matchup thanks to his game-high 25 points and six rebounds.
(Sidenote: I was able to watch this win while on a cruise to the Bahamas surrounded by Kentucky fans. Enjoy some of the photos from the crowd below. Big Blue Nation really is everywhere.)
Then the unthinkable happened: both Arizona and Virginia (!!!) suffered the two biggest upsets in this tournament. This paves the way for Kentucky to quite possibly play three-straight double-digit seeds (if UMBC wins today) before the Elite Eight.
To bring a close to their weekend the Wildcats went out yesterday and pitched quite possibly their best performance of the season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo both looked like lottery picks and Wenyen Gabriel steadied UK with a double-double.
And oh yea, the three seed in Kentucky’s bracket lost out as well shortly after UK defeated a red-hot Buffalo team. In summary, the Wildcats looked great against some talented mid-majors while the 1,3, and 4 seed in their bracket all lost out. That’s a pretty amazing (and lucky) first weekend of the tournament if you ask me.
2. Florida and Tennessee Run Into Some Bad Luck
While the basketball gods were on UK’s side this weekend, they put some pretty terrible luck on both Florida an Tennessee. The Gators and Volunteers made the SEC looked good as they were able to avoid big upsets in their first games.
However, both teams lost in devastating fashion in the Round of 32. Tennessee lost on a late jump shot to one of this tournament’s Cinderella teams, and Florida missed two last second-shots, thus failing to send their game with Texas Tech into overtime.
Current mood: pic.twitter.com/GRAQgCJ1MF
— Florida Gators (@FloridaGators) March 18, 2018
LOYOLA-CHICAGO UPSETS TENNESSEE TO ADVANCE TO THE SWEET SIXTEEN WITH TITANIC pic.twitter.com/Y1XHzvVm6u
— Matt Allaire (@AllaireMatt) March 18, 2018
While I do enjoy watching Tennessee and Florida losing in heartbreaking fashion, it is unfortunate for the SEC that the conference narrowly missed out on sending two more team into the Elite Eight. That would’ve been a statement.
Instead, SEC fans will only think about what could’ve been as two of the conference’s best teams go home with heartbreak in the first weekend.
3. Arkansas and Missouri Disappear
The SEC got off to a very strong 5-0 start in the tournament, but then Arkansas and Missouri came along and messed everything up. Both the Razorbacks and Tigers were essentially no-shows in their first games as they lost by a combined 30 points.
This was the most surprising development of the weekend so far from the conference. I thought Arkansas had a great chance to beat Butler, but they didn’t seem interested in even being in the tournament.
I had a feeling Missouri would lose to Florida State as I thought the Seminoles were a better team than people gave them credit for. However, I had no idea the Tigers would play their worst game of the season here.
Just look at how devastated Michael Porter Jr. is after Missouri lost. You gotta feel for the kid.
Michael Porter Jr. exits the season in tears. “I’m not used to this feeling.” pic.twitter.com/pMWN8oSj9d
— Tom Martin (@TomKCTV5) March 17, 2018
4. Alabama runs into a Villanova Buzzsaw
Oh man, the Crimson Tide played the wrong team on Saturday. Collin Sexton and company looked like a dangerous team heading into the NCAA Tournament, but that came to a screeching halt when they took on Villanova.
They got absolutely curb-stomped against the Wildcats. There really is no other way to put their 81-58 defeat. In their defense, this was more about Villanova and Mikal Bridges playing outside of their minds than Alabama not showing up.
Mikal Bridges went OFF for 22 points in the 2nd half to lead Nova to the Sweet 16 pic.twitter.com/Dfhn08pSn7
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 17, 2018
I honestly hope that Alabama fans enjoyed their time with Sexton this season, because he should be a lock for the NBA Lottery. I can’t wait to watch him play in the league.
5. Auburn and Texas A&M’s ACC Challenges
Today is a huge day for the SEC. Two of the conference’s most talented teams will take on Clemson and North Carolina. Auburn should be favored over Clemson while the Aggies will have certainly have a tough time with UNC.
However, I like how both teams matchup with their ACC counterparts. Auburn will have the best player on the court in the form of Bryce Brown when they play Clemson, and Texas A&M has the big guys to take on Luke Maye and the rest of Tar Heel frontcourt.
If both of these teams make the sweet sixteen in the same day while also preventing two ACC teams from doing so, it would be a huge moment in the battle for conference supremacy.
If the worst happens and both teams lose, than the SEC will only have Kentucky in the sweet sixteen which would be a huge disappointment. I got Auburn and UNC winning today, but who knows what will happen in this wacky tournament.