Tonight’s games are going to tell the tale, because as they sit, practically every SEC team in the tournament is looking at a good chance of reaching the Sweet Sixteen.
Here is the slate for the next couple of days:
#2 Tennessee Vs. #10 Creighton - Creighton is a good team, but Tennessee is now back at almost full strength and rolling.
#4 Georgia Vs. #5 Iowa State - Georgia has been playing well, but Iowa State is not to be taken lightly. This game will be a barnburner.
#4 South Carolina Vs. #12 Kansas - SC and their smashmouth defense is not something that Kansas has seen a lot of. The Jayhawks will need to bring their A game to just stay upright in this contest. If the referees don’t get in the way, Carolina should advance.
#4 Texas A&M Vs. #6 Nebraska - A&M has been playing their best basketball of the season since March 1st. That trend should continue for at least one more game.
#8 Vanderbilt Vs. #1 UConn - There was a time when Vandy was more than a tough competitor for the Huskies. This, however, is not the time. Vandy has had a lot of great tournament moments, but this will not be one of them. I expect Vandy to be the first SEC casualty of the tourney.
#6 LSU Vs. #3 Penn State - This matchup really intrigues me. Penn State plays on UK’s level. They have the ability to get to the next level in the tourney, but teams like LSU bother them. LSU just might pull off the upset here.
#2 Kentucky Vs. #7 Dayton - Dayton just went double OT with St. John’s and fought them tooth and nail on their home floor. They play smart and they have outside shooting. They have slashers at PF and both guard slots, but lack a true post presence.
This game may be a repeat of the opener for Kentucky, as they will have to figure out how to get out on those 3 point shooters quickly. I expect A’Dia Mathies to come roaring back from her missing woman routine against Navy, though, especially on defense. Cats should move on.
Should these predictions play out (which a LOT of mine usually don’t), that would leave 6 SEC teams in the top 16 in the country. A pretty fair showing if you ask me. It is my honest belief that the SEC will have at least three teams in the Elite Eight if not 4. If you are a young woman who wants to play top college women’s basketball, you better be looking at the SEC. With the SEC looking to open that new SEC Network next season, I believe that will also improve the TV coverage for the women as well.
On a side note, I believe that a new concept has to be looked at for the women’s tournament, and I am going to propose one. Play the women’s tournament right alongside the men’s. Put the teams in the same venues, following the men’s games, or between the rounds. Bid the tourney’s at the same time. You win a men’s bid, you get the women’s too.
This practice of allowing lower seeds to play at home needs to be stopped. The women deserve equal footing with the men on this stage. The tournament would be a great place to start. If you put women’s NCAA basketball in the same venues as the men, games being played in front of the same fans, women’s basketball would get an unbelievable shot in the arm. The games are competitive, the players are the best they have ever been, and the crowds are swelling. This could give the women’s tourney the legitimacy and following the men have long enjoyed.