John Clay: Breaking down the SEC Tournament

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMarch 11, 2013 

Time to handicap the SEC Tournament this week at Nashville.


These teams have absolutely no shot

Auburn: John Calipari swears Tony Barbee is a great coach. Tell that to the few basketball fans who actually exist in Auburn, Alabama. They're waiting on evidence.

Mississippi State: Hats off to first-year coach Rick Ray, whose undermanned team played hard. After all his bad luck this season, Ray deserves good fortune in the future. But the future isn't now.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks will play in Nashville, but will Frank Martin coach in Nashville? Or will he sit and watch as he did in Lexington? Depends on the view.

Texas A&M: We know, Connecticut won five straight games to win the Big East tourney title in 2011. We know, Elston Turner is capable of a massive scoring roll. But Kemba Walker he's not.


Won't win it, but you don't want to play them

Georgia: Play the Bulldogs, expect a close game. Ten of Georgia's final 13 league games were decided by single digits or overtime. Mark Fox would like to borrow your fingernails.

LSU: If you disregard that 0-4 league start — feeling their way under new coach Johnny Jones — the Tigers don't have a bad loss. That double-digit defeat by Ole Miss in Baton Rouge last Saturday was disturbing, but LSU should make any opponent nervous.

Vanderbilt: The site is Nashville, but the Commodores won't own the home-court advantage. That aside, Kevin Stallings' squad is playing its best basketball of the season, winning four of its last five. It can't win four here, however.


Might win it if it were playing at home

Arkansas: In Fayetteville, the Razorbacks could beat the Miami Heat. Outside of Fayetteville, it couldn't beat Grambling State (0-27). Unless Mike Anderson could win a last-second change of venue, the Hogs are bacon.too maddening to win it

Mississippi: If Marshall Henderson shoots the lights out in Music City, Andy Kennedy will lift the SEC Tournament trophy above his bald head come Sunday. If Marshall Henderson shoots the Rebels out of the tournament, Kennedy might have his brazen bomber's head come Sunday.


They could win it, but they won't

Missouri: The Tigers are skilled enough to join Texas A&M's women as the new kids voted homecoming queen and king. But just when you are ready to crown it tourney favorite, Mizzou stubbed its toe yet again, losing by a bucket Saturday at Tennessee. Maybe Frank Haith's team is just good enough to get beat.

Alabama: Anthony Grant is a good coach, but there is more to the Tide than Grant is getting. Bama should not have lost at LSU (bad finish) but did. It should not have lost at Ole Miss (bad start) but did. This is another team with the talent to win three straight, but won't.

Kentucky: If UK's court advantage matches its crowd advantage, John Calipari can start cutting down the nets right now. These Cats are too flawed to win three straight, but a trip to the finals would surely convince the NCAA Selection Committee they deserve a spot in the field.


Should win it but won't

Florida: The record shows the Gators are league's best, but Florida's deadly deficiency was on full display the final 7:32 Saturday at Kentucky when it failed to score a single point. Billy Donovan doesn't have a go-to guy he can count on to make a shot when the throat gets a little tight.


Will win it

Tennessee: The Vols won eight of their last nine, taking a lone finger in the eye at Georgia (losing by 10), but UT was due a bad outing after six straight wins. It has the point guard (Trae Golden), the scorer (Jordan McRae), the glass-eater (Jarnell Stokes), the coach (Cuonzo Martin) and the motivation (NCAA bubblicious) to snatch the scissors on Sunday.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog:

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