ESPN’s Joe Lunardi released his latest bracketology update Sunday before Power 5 conference tournaments start this week.
He projects that six teams from the SEC will dance in March Madness and one SEC West foe slated in the “Next Four Out.”
With the SEC Tournament set to begin Wednesday, this will be the last opportunity for teams to improve its seeding or make the tournament at all.
The 2021 #SECMBB Tournament Bracket is SET!
See y'all in Nashville 🤩 pic.twitter.com/9j2Csj4IYd
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) March 7, 2021
‘Bama and Arkansas sitting pretty
No. 1-seeded Alabama and No. 2-seeded Arkansas face the least amount of pressure in Nashville, Tennessee, this week.
The Crimson Tide have surprised many in college basketball this season. They have collected a 21-6 record for one of their best seasons in program history. They also rank sixth in the most recent AP Top 25 poll. If coach Nate Oats and his team climb the ladder and cut the nets from the rim Sunday afternoon, it’ll be their first SEC Championship since 1991.
The Razorbacks have also surged under another second-year head coach in Eric Musselman. They have wracked up a 21-5 record and sit at No. 8 in the country.
Both teams sit reclined in their chairs as they cruise to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 and No. 3 seed, according to Lunardi.
Middle of the Pack
After Alabama and Arkansas, there are a host of teams who sit on the edge of their seat heading into Nashville.
Out of LSU, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida, the Volunteers lie the most comfortably out of the four squads. They head into the conference tournament as the No. 4 seed in the SEC and slated as a No. 6 seed for March Madness. They improved their record to 16-7 after they spurned Florida in the second half.
LSU enters the SEC Tournament as the No. 3 seed and No. 8 in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers knocked off Missouri 86-80. Their win boosted their seeding in the SEC Tournament and helped their effort to escape an eight or nine seed in March Madness. They await the winner of Ole Miss and South Carolina Friday.
Missouri has endured a rollercoaster season so far. It’s beaten several top-ranked teams like Alabama, Illinois and Arkansas. But the Tigers suffered some befuddling losses to Mississippi State, Auburn and two Ole Miss beatings. They face Georgia Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Gators have survived after they lost Keyontae Johnson for the season versus Florida State. He was named SEC Preseason Player of the Year. But Florida’s season has still bounced around like a pinball. They demolished Tennessee and stole a victory in Morgantown, West Virginia, versus a top-10 Mountaineers squad.
— Florida Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) March 8, 2021
Florida then responded to its success against West Virginia by falling to the Gamecocks at home. It also arrives in Nashville on a two-game skid. The Gators await the winner of Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.
Outside looking in
Ole Miss faces a dire situation as it sits as one of the first eight teams to miss the cut for the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels need to make a significant run in the SEC Tournament. Their journey to March Madness is difficult because they have to knock off a pesky South Carolina team and LSU and Arkansas, potentially.
Kentucky Wildcats are also nowhere to be found in any expert’s bracketology. They sit at 9-15 and need to earn an automatic bid to win the SEC Tournament to make the “Big Dance.”