SEC teams revive tourney hopes
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Days until Selection Sunday: 7
The big picture:
For about a week, no one from the SEC’s muddled pack of borderline teams looked like it wanted to reach the NCAA tournament.
On Saturday? All of them had a change of heart.
The highest-profile victory of the lot belonged to Kentucky, and understandably so. The Wildcats turned around less than 48 hours after their most puzzling loss of the season (at Georgia) and collected their most prized triumph (at home against Florida).
But it wasn’t just John Calipari’s crew.
Tennessee? It dusted off Missouri.
Alabama? It needed a half-court buzzer-beater, but still defeated Georgia in Tuscaloosa.
Long shot Arkansas? The Razorbacks beat Texas A&M at home, because they beat everybody (well, except Syracuse) at home.
And Ole Miss? The Rebels had to go on the road, but they won, too, knocking off Louisiana State.
So the SEC? Yes, it’s still chaotic. But all those borderline teams that have hovered around the edge of the field are still alive entering the conference tournament in Nashville.
Words that speak volume:
“I think the job is done. Now the next phase for us is to go try and compete in a tough SEC tournament in Nashville. As far as the NCAA tournament is concerned, I feel like the work is done. I think that just solidifies it, when you look at the résumés of the other teams and look at the things we’ve done to put ourselves in position.”
Hot seat: Virginia
The Cavaliers have dropped two consecutive games, and two games in a row against teams they shouldn’t have lost to.
It gets Maryland at home on Sunday, and while falling to the Terrapins wouldn’t be a giant black mark, it would place the Cavaliers in a tenuous position entering the ACC tournament.
A loss would give Virginia the No. 5 seed in the league tournament, which sets up a won’t-do-anything-to-help date with either Virginia Tech or Wake Forest. Then would come a likely must-win against N.C. State to harbor serious postseason hopes.
A win means the Cavaliers are the No. 4 seed, that they won’t deal with the last-place team on Thursday and they might have at least … [For more on Bubble Watch: SEC teams revive NCAA tournament hopes with big wins, click here.]