It’s now the middle of February and I’ve managed to ignore basketball, or football’s little brother, for almost three and half months. My only excuse I can offer is that I’m still emotionally fragile after my team lost its top two players (before Terrico White decided he wanted to be the best player on the team) for the season and its coach was arrested the night before the toughest game of the entire season. And all of this happened in about month. Throw in the emotional high from football season and it was a little hard to get focused on basketball.
So in order to make up for the redheaded stepchild treatment I’ve been giving basketball, here’s my attempt to run through each team in the SEC (as they appear in the standings) and go over what has happened and what I think will happen. And of course I’ll do it in a gimmicky Coors Light Cold Hard Facts fashion. That way, there’s less thinking or active learning for you, the reader. You’re welcome.
Florida (19-5, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Billy Donovan continues to set the pace for most perspiration from a coach during a game and for having the most wicked widow’s peak of all-time. Nick Calathes, one of the leagues best players, leads the SEC in whining, as he makes more noise than feminine regions of Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker combined.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Donovan will continue to sweat and sharpen than triangle that rests on his forehead, Calathes will visit English Premiere League teams to learn more effective whining techniques, and the Gators will be bounced in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina (17-5, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The Gamecocks got a new coach to replace Dave Odom, which until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know happened. Darrin Horn now runs the show in Columbia and, as part of getting the students more involved, has them dress for the games as if they are part of some Columbian paramilitary force. Very good idea until you realize that urban camouflage is stupid.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: South Carolina is extremely athletic and a pretty good offensive team. They also are South Carolina and have a tendency to do nothing (other than lose to 15 seeds) when they make the NCAA Tournament. However, I say they break through and we’ll see them in the Sweet Sixteen.
Kentucky (17-7, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Jodie Meeks averages about 25 points a game and head coach Billy Gillispie hates ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Gillispie will continue to wage his war of unholy terror on sideline reporters, which will make television very exciting when Kentucky loses in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and Gillispie is marching off the floor.
Tennessee (15-8, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The preseason favorite to win the SEC has fallen on hard times as of late (outstanding sports cliché), which has Bruce Pearl longing for the days when he had a player or two capable of making a shot outside of 15 feet and when he could get a little handsy with Erin Andrews.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Someone will finally make Bruce Pearl realize that playing on a court with the women’s coach’s name on it is embarrassing. This will fester for a few weeks, finally resulting in a press conference explosion after the Vols lose in their first game of the SEC Tournament, which keeps them out of the NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt (15-8, 4-5)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Vanderbilt is a really boring team that beats bad teams and loses to average and good teams. In fact, everything about Vanderbilt is boring. I can’t say I’ve ever looked forward to watching them play, even in football. But Nashville is pretty fun. That’s about all I’ve got here.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: The NIT.
Georgia (9-15, 0-8)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Thanks to their charge through the SEC Tournament last year, Georgia had to wait until this season to fire its coach. Other season highlights include a loss to Loyola (IL) and an overtime loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: I think they’ll fall one game short of equaling the Detroit Lions’ 0-16 record, thanks to playing Auburn in Athens next week. And Bobby Knight will realize how foolish it would be to become the head coach at Georgia, thus withdrawing his name from consideration.
LSU (20-4, 8-1)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The Tigers didn’t cave to the pressure of hiring their interim head coach, Butch Pierre, and went outside the South to hire Trent Johnson from Stanford. That seems to have worked out rather well. And it probably helps to have Marcus Thornton, who has scored at least 20 points 11 times, and Tasmin Mitchell, who has done it six times.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: I think this LSU team has a chance to make a strong showing in the SEC Tournament. Of course, this could be my attempt to throw out a jinx on them, but you’ll never know. Sweet Sixteen it is….no, make it Elite Eight. No, I’ll stay at Sweet Sixteen.
Mississippi State (16-8, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: They managed to blow a 25-12 first half lead to Ole Miss, which may come back to blow their shot at the NCAA Tournament, as well as a loss at home to San Diego. Also, Rick Stansbury still claps like a seal. Seriously, watch him the next time they’re on TV. His hands don’t cross, they just line up exactly in-line with one another. Palm to palm and fingers to fingers. It drives me crazy. Someone please show him how people are supposed to clap.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: With Mike Slive chairing the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, you can bet that if State gets to 20 wins, they’re in. Looking at their remaining games, I think they’ll be 19-11 going into the last game of the regular season at Ole Miss. Oh, the drama. Win and they’re probably in. Lose and they’ll need to win at least two in the SEC Tournament to get in to the NCAA Tournament. Look for Southwest Missouri State to make a trip to Starkville in the NIT opening round.
Auburn (15-9, 4-5)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The Tigers are suddenly feisty with back-to-back wins over Tennessee and Arkansas. However, since no one goes to or cares about Auburn basketball games, this cannot be confirmed (both the feistiness and wins). I’m not even sure if Auburn has a basketball team this year.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Nothing remotely interesting. But I’m sure the Gene Chizik era will be quite interesting.
Ole Miss (13-10, 4-5)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: A couple dozen knee injuries and a head coach who was arrested at one in the morning in Cincinnati, Ohio. It sounds made up, but it really did happen. Look it up. Good times.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: The NIT and the end of the season. Hopefully.
Alabama (13-10, 3-6)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Another school that couldn’t wait to fire its head coach. Mark Gottfried was one of the best coaches in the country at doing less with more on a consistent basis. And that’s hard to do. Opposing schools throughout the conference will miss his in-game coaching, which always gave his opponents a chance to win.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: The spring football game in about two months.
Arkansas (13-9, 1-8)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The hell if I know. This team was 12-1 going into conference play and is now 13-9. Now THAT’S hard to do. I’m assuming all those non-conference home games they played didn’t really help them get ready for conference games, where they are now 0-5 on the road (just a thought).
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: More unhealthy man-love for Bobby Petrino, who will of course leave Arkansas at the earliest possible date he is eligible to do so.