Sidelines with John Clay

Everything you need to know about the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament

The SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament begins Wednesday night. Here’s what you need to know:

When: Wednesday through Sunday (March 9-13)

Where: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. This is the second straight year and third in the last four that the tournament has been held in Nashville. It returns to the Music City in 2017 before going to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis for 2018. Then it’s back to Nashville for three more years before going to Tampa in 2022.

Championship game: Sunday, March 13, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Television coverage: The SEC Network has all games until Saturday’s semifinals, when ESPN takes over. ESPN also airs Sunday’s final at 1 p.m.

Seeds: 1-Texas A&M; 2-Kentucky; 3-South Carolina; 4-LSU; 5-Vanderbilt; 6-Georgia; 7-Ole Miss; 8-Florida; 9-Arkansas; 10-Alabama; 11-Mississippi State; 12-Tennessee; 13-Auburn.

Not participating: Facing an NCAA investigation, Missouri announced a self-imposed post-season ban this season. The Tigers, 3-15 in league play, would have been the No. 14 seed.

History: Kentucky won the 2015 SEC Tournament for the first time since 2011. Vanderbilt beat UK in the 2012 final. Ole Miss beat Florida in the 2013 final. And Florida beat UK in the 2014 title game. Overall, Kentucky has won the tournament 28 times. Alabama is next with six titles, but the Crimson Tide has not won the tournament since 1991.

Number of titles by school: Kentucky (28), Alabama (6), Florida (4), Tennessee (4), Mississippi State (3), Ole Miss (2), Vanderbilt (2), Georgia (2), Arkansas (1), Auburn (1), LSU (1), Georgia Tech (1).

Fun fact: The SEC did not hold a post-season tournament from 1953 to 1979. For 12 straight years, from 1941 to 1952, the tournament was held at Louisville Gardens.

John Calipari Era: Kentucky beat Mississippi State 75-74 in overtime in the 2010 finals. UK beat Florida 70-54 to win the 2011 tournament. It lost to Vanderbilt 71-64 in the 2012 final before going on to win the national title. It lost to Vanderbilt 64-48 in the quarterfinals of the 2013 tourney. It lost to Florida 61-60 in the 2014 final. It beat Arkansas 78-63 to win last year’s tourney in Nashville. Overall, Calipari is 13-3 as UK’s coach in the tournament.

League’s strength this year: Jeff Sagarin’s computer numbers rank the SEC as the nation’s sixth-best league behind the Big 12, ACC, Pac-12, Big 10 and Big East.

Ranked teams: Kentucky is ranked 16th in both the AP and USA Today coaches polls. Texas A&M is 17th in both polls. South Carolina is receiving votes in both polls.

Ken Pomeroy: Here’s the way Pomeroy’s advanced analytics rank the league’s teams: 8-Kentucky; 21-Texas A&M; 25-Vanderbilt; 44-Florida; 52-South Carolina; 64-Ole Miss; 67-Georgia; 72-Mississippi State; 81-LSU; 85-Arkansas; 89-Alabama; 119-Tennessee; 194-Auburn.

Who’s hot: Texas A&M has won its last six games. Georgia is on a three-game winning streak. Arkansas, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have won four of their last five.

Who’s not: Tennessee enters on a four-game losing streak. Alabama, Auburn and Florida have lost four of their last five. LSU lost four of its last six.

Record to remember: Texas A&M is the only team to post a winning road record in conference play. The Aggies were 5-4 on the road.

Three players to watch: Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis was named the conference’s player of the year and its defensive player of the year. Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody led the league in scoring at 23.1 points per game. LSU freshman Ben Simmons led the league in rebounding at 11.9 per game.

Three players who don’t get enough attention: No one plays harder than South Carolina forward Michael Carerra, who averaged 16.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in league play. Mississippi State’s Gavin Ware made 56.6 percent of his shots and averaged 7.6 rebounds. Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin IV is a possible first-round draft pick who averaged 6.2 assists.

Coach of the year: Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy got the nod from his peers, and it’s easy to see why. The Aggies shared the league title with Kentucky and are the No. 1 seed thanks to an overtime win over the Wildcats in College Station.

Most improved: After going 15-39 his first three years in the league, South Carolina’s Frank Martin led the Gamecocks to an 11-7 SEC record and the No. 3 seed this season.

Most overlooked: Including this year, Andy Kennedy has won 20 or more games in eight of his 10 years at Ole Miss.

Coach who could use a tournament run: LSU’s Johnny Jones has come under a ton of criticism after the talented Tigers rode the rollercoaster all season. Despite having the probable No. 1 pick in the draft in Simmons, LSU appears headed for the NIT unless it can win the conference tournament.

Teams probably already in NCAA Tournament: ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has just four SEC teams in the field of 68: Kentucky, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. He has Florida as “next out” on his board.

On the NCAA bubble: Jerry Palm of CBS has four league teams in his bracket, but writes, “ South Carolina really damaged its chances late in the season, while Vandy got hot to give itself a chance to get in. Neither can afford a bad loss in the conference tournament. The Gators likely need a deep run, and may just have to win the whole thing.”

Favorite: With the way Skal Labissiere played the final week of the season, in combination with guards Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray, Kentucky has to be the favorite.

Sleeper: Vanderbilt. Picked second behind Kentucky in the pre-season, the Commodores struggled at times but played well at year’s end. Plus, even though Kentucky figures to have the most fans in the stands, Vandy is playing at home, more or less.

Longshot with a shot: Ole Miss. After fighting injuries for most of the year, the Rebels are healthy and have one of the league’s most dangerous players in Stefan Moody.

Quote to remember: Before last year’s SEC tournament, John Calipari said, “Three games in three days, what does that do for you? I mean, I don’t think it does anything. I’m not a big fan. But this place is a different animal. Our fans come to the tournament, they spend their rent money, mortgage money, their car money.”

SEC MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS

All times ET

Wednesday

8:00 - No. 12 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Auburn (SEC)

Thursday

1:00 - No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas (SEC)

2:30 - Wednesday winner vs. No. 5 Vanderbilt (SEC)

7:00 - No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama (SEC)

9:30 - No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Mississippi State (SEC)

Friday

1:00 - Florida-Arkansas winner vs. No. 1 Texas A&M (SEC)

2:30 - Tennessee, Auburn or Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 LSU (SEC)

7:00 - Ole Miss-Alabama winner vs. Kentucky (SEC)

9:30 - Georgia-Mississippi State winner vs. South Carolina (SEC)

Saturday

1:00 - First semifinal (ESPN)

2:30 - Second semifinal (ESPN)

Sunday

1:00 - Championship game (ESPN)

John Calipari’s record in SEC Tournament

Date

Opponent

UK

Opp

Dec

3/12/10

vs. Alabama (SEC)

73

67

W

3/13/10

vs. Tennessee (SEC)

74

45

W

3/14/10

vs. Miss St (SEC)

75

74

W*

3/11/11

vs. Ole Miss (SEC)

75

66

W

3/12/11

vs. Alabama (SEC)

72

58

W

3/13/11

vs. Florida (SEC)

70

54

W

3/9/12

vs. LSU (SEC)

60

51

W

3/10/12

vs. Florida (SEC)

74

71

W

3/11/12

vs. Vanderbilt (sec)

64

71

L

3/15/13

vs. Vanderbilt (SEC)

48

64

L

3/14/14

vs. LSU (SEC)

85

67

W

3/15/14

vs. Georgia (SEC)

70

58

W

3/16/14

vs. Florida (SEC)

60

61

L

3/13/15

vs. Florida (SEC)

64

49

W

3/14/15

vs. Auburn (SEC)

91

67

W

3/15/15

vs. Arkansas (SEC)

78

63

W

* overtime

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