As the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament begins this week, fans will see some additional Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams in action.
A record eight SEC teams have earned a bid in March Madness this year. The Florida Gators, which will make an appearance in the tournament for a second-straight season, is one of those teams. Last year, five SEC teams made the tournament with one reaching the Final Four (South Carolina).
Only the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has more teams in the tournament this year (nine).
Kentucky Takes SEC Crown
After claiming its fourth-straight victory (31st overall) in the SEC Tournament title game, the Kentucky Wildcats earned the No. 5 seed in the South Region and will face No. 12 seed Davidson (21-11) on Thursday. The Wildcats finished the season with a 24-10 record and 10 conference wins, good for third in the SEC standings.
This will be Kentucky’s 57th all-time appearance in the tournament.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) March 11, 2018
Tennessee Earns Highest SEC Seed
Out of all eight SEC teams that made the tournament, the Tennessee Volunteers earned the highest seed of the bunch, claiming the third seed in the South Region. Despite falling to Kentucky in the conference tournament in St. Louis, Tennessee finished tied atop the standings with Auburn for a share of the regular-season championship.
The Volunteers, which finished with a 25-8 record and conference-best eight road wins, will take on No. 14 seed Wright State (25-9) in Dallas on Thursday. This is Tennessee’s first appearance in the tournament since a Sweet 16 run in 2014.
With Tennessee and Kentucky in the same region, the only way the two teams could potentially face each other is in the Elite Eight.
Auburn Ends 15-Year Drought
Sharing a piece of the regular-season conference title, the Auburn Tigers will head to San Diego to compete in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years. The Tigers, which finished the season with 25 wins, enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region and will take on No. 13 seed Charleston (26-7) on Friday.
The last time the Tigers appeared in the tournament ended with a Sweet 16 finish and loss to eventual national champion Syracuse in 2003.
Gators In March Madness
For the second-straight season and 19th time overall, the Gators will play in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mike White has led Florida to a second appearance in the tournament during his first three seasons in Gainesville.
Despite an early exit in the SEC Tournament, the Gators, which finished with 20 wins (11 in the SEC) and second in the conference standings, will enter the tournament as the No. 6 seed in the East Region. Florida will take on either Saint Bonaventure or UCLA (they will face off in one of the play-in games Tuesday) in Dallas on Thursday.
Crimson Tide Back In The Tourney
Alabama will make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament this year after a five-year absence. The Crimson Tide finished the season with a 19-15 record and a 2-8 road record but is a No. 9 seed in the East Region and will face No. 8 seed Virginia Tech (21-11) on Thursday.
With 15 losses on the year, Alabama follows Vanderbilt’s lead (in 2017) as the second team to receive an at-large bid to the tournament with that amount of losses. The Tide boasts the SEC’s second-leading scorer in guard Collin Sexton with 19.0 points per game.
Missouri, Texas A&M and Arkansas Also Dancing
With Missouri in the NCAA Tournament this year, Alabama isn’t the only one erasing a five-year postseason drought. The Tigers are making their first appearance in March Madness since 2013 and second time as an SEC team. Missouri is a No. 8 seed this year and will face No. 9 seed Florida State (20-11) in Nashville on Friday.
The Tigers finished with a 20-12 record and 10-8 record in the conference after three-straight losing seasons.
This is the Tigers’ 27th overall appearance in the tournament.
Texas A&M is making its first appearance in the tournament since the 2015-16 season and second time under head coach Billy Kennedy, who is in his seventh season with the Aggies. A&M finished with a 20-12 record and nine conference wins and will play as a No. 7 seed in the West Region.
The Aggies will face No. 10 seed Providence (21-13) in Charlotte on Friday.
Along with Texas A&M, the Arkansas Razorbacks will enter the tournament as a No. 7 seed and face No. 10 seed Butler (20-13) in Detroit on Friday. Arkansas finished with a 23-11 record and 10 conference wins and will be making its 32nd appearance in the tournament (and third time in the last four years).
Postseason Hoops Begin Soon
First Four and play-in games begin tomorrow at 6:40 p.m. ET in Dayton, Ohio on TruTV.