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Analysis: Could the SEC be a one-bid league?
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On February 17, 2013 @ 4:57 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
Less than two months after the Southeastern Conference celebrated its seventh consecutive BCS national championship, its basketball league has fallen on hard times.
Not only is the league the least regarded power conference this season, but it should expect a dearth of NCAA tournament teams as well.
First-place Florida (21-3) remains in strong contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, possessing a profile bolstered by early-season wins over Wisconsin and Marquette, which are ranked 19th and 20th, respectively, in the latest USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll. But what does the SEC offer beyond the Gators?
No power conference has sent just one team to the NCAA tournament since the field expanded to 64 in 1985. Barring a late-season collapse by Missouri, the Tigers (18-7) likely will give the SEC two tournament teams. But other tournament hopefuls have taken significant steps backward.
Kentucky (17-8) had positioned itself to challenge for a single-digit tournament seed, but that was before freshman Nerlens Noel, who had been the projected top pick in the NBA draft, suffered a season-ending ACL tear Tuesday at Florida.
Needing to re-prove its tournament worth without Noel, Kentucky lost at Tennessee by 30 points Saturday, after which coach John Calipari said Tennessee “deserved to beat us by 50″ and that some of his players were “not real coachable.”
On Sunday, Calipari backpedaled from those comments in a lengthy essay on his Web site, writing that he refuses to believe they are not coachable and that he maintains faith in his players if they “will compete and battle, which they have the ability to do.”
In closing, Calipari wrote, “No life raft is going to be thrown at us. We have got to swim back because this is going to be hard. But if we want it, it’s still there for us. Now let’s go get it.”
After seeing a Noel-less Kentucky team, few may have faith in the defending national champions’ ability to reach the NCAAs. As is the case with other SEC teams, few opportunities exist to play quality opponents not named Florida. And Kentucky had beaten only one notable team, a now … [For more on Analysis: Could the SEC be a one-bid league?, click here.]
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