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SEC Hoops Power Poll Roundtable: Pondering the Imponderables


The SEC Hoops Roundtable is back.  We usually do this once or twice per season, and how it works is that all the participants in the SEC Power Poll answer the same set of questions on their site for their users to comment on.  Then, sometime in the near future, on of the Power Poll blogs will put together a post on the best (or most interesting) comments from each of the roundtable participants.

So without further ado, I'll jump right in to the questions:

1. What teams are locks, probables and bubble teams for the NCAA tournament? Why?

I think Florida, Vanderbilt and Kentucky are the only locks at this point.  Tennessee was very close to lock status in my mind, but they have been so mercurial this year that I can't help but hold them out, especially since they just lost another game at home to Mississippi State.

I think it's a darn shame that I can't put Alabama in the lock category yet, but the reason is their really ugly RPI and strength of schedule.  I do think that if they win two more games in the SEC, they are certainly locks.  It is inconceivable that an SEC team with 13 league wins gets left out of the tournament.  That's probably also true of a 12-win SEC team (think Kentucky in 2007-08), but I'm hedging my bets.  Bottom line, barring a complete collapse, Alabama is in.

2. What is your story of the year for the conference?

Alabama, no doubt.  What a job Anthony Grant has done with a team that figured to be little more than a footnote in conference this year.  Simply amazing.

Even more impressive is Alabama's defensive efficiency -- it is is among the very tip-top in the entire nation.  To me, that's simply remarkable.  I am absolutely certain that no matter what seed they wind up with, nobody will want to play them.

3. Who is your player of the year? Why?

I like older players for this honor, and based on that, I think I would consider JaMychal Green of the Alabama Crimson Tide, or Chandler Parsons of the Florida Gators.  There is no doubt that Green is the MVP of the Tide, and Chandler Parsons has been the do-it-all player, especially in the SEC portion of the season, for the Gators.

John Jenkins of the Vanderbilt Commodores certainly deserves consideration as well.

4. Who is the coach of the year? Why?

Anthony Grant of Alabama.  Given what he had to work with coming in, and the expectations surrounding that program, I think Grant has really earned the COY this year.  In fact, he is so far out in front, in my mind, that nobody else is even close.

5. What SEC team will go furthest in the NCAA tournament? In one of the other post season tourneys?

This may be a homer vote, but I think it will be Kentucky.  Kentucky isn't exactly built for the tournament, but they are a very low-turnover team and have excellent guard play.  If the Wildcats can win out, get a bit of help from Georgia and get the 2 seed in the SEC tournament, they could be on a five-game win streak by the time the selection committee meets for the last time and might actually wrangle a 4-seed if they get help from some other teams. 

Even if they only manage a 5, Kentucky could wind up playing tough against the one seed in the third round, and as I mentioned, guard play is king in the NCAA.

Bonus question: Does any team not currently in your NCAA tournament discussion have a team that could win the SEC tournament?

You bet.  I think both the teams from the state of Mississippi could win the SEC tournament.  The Mississippi St. Bulldogs are incredibly talented, and it certainly is possible for them to put together four straight.

With Chris Warren, anything is possible.  The Mississippi Rebels have beaten two of the top teams in the SEC, albeit at home, and although a four-game run isn't likely, a similar Georgia team with a great point guard pulled it off just a couple of years back.