It is time for the 2021 Men’s Basketball SEC Tournament from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Here is a look at how we think the tourney will play out. (Note: This is a 13 team tournament this year after Auburn self-imposed a one-year postseason ban for corruption during the 2017-18 season).
By Steve Wright
First Round – Wednesday
No. 12 Vanderbilt vs. No. 13 Texas A&M: The Aggies win through here as they have looked solid in their two-game return from a month off thanks to Covid-19. A&M 75, Vandy 67.
Second Round – Thursday
No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Mississippi State: Davion Mintz being the point guard that the Wildcats needed all season long makes them a threat in the first couple of rounds of this tournament. Kentucky 65, Mississippi State 60.
No. 5 Florida vs. No. 13 Texas A&M: The Gators will be stewing that they lost their double-bye and slipped to the No. 5 seed here. Tre Mann scored 21 points in each of his last two games and he will do the damage to put Florida through to the quarters. Florida 72, Texas A&M 59.
No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Georgia: Georgia beat Mizzou in their only meeting of the season but neither of these sides is in good form and both have won just two of their last seven. Center Jeremiah Tilmon – who did not play in the first game – will be the difference for the Tigers here. Mizzou 74, Georgia 71.
No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No. 11 South Carolina: The Gamecocks are 1-8 in their last nine and the last five losses haven’t been close. The Rebs haven’t scored much recently but that should change here. Ole Miss 89, South Carolina 60.
Quarterfinals – Friday
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Kentucky: The Wildcats run ends here as the best team in the league stops Calipari from taking Kentucky to the NCAA Tournament. Alabama 80, Kentucky 77.
No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 5 Florida: These two played on March 7 but it will be a reversal this time around as the Gators avenge the loss that made them play an extra game with a hot offensive performance. Florida 77, Tennessee 75.
No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Missouri: Mizzou’s run in the tournament ends here as the bump into the hottest team in the league – Arkansas has won 11 straight in the SEC and is unblemished since taking on Oklahoma State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Arkansas 85, Missouri 63.
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Ole Miss: LSU has beaten the Rebels twice this season and the Tigers will do so again here with an extra day off rest proving crucial in the second half as they pull away for a win. LSU 69, Ole Miss 61.
Semifinals – Saturday
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 Florida: Predicting the biggest upset of the entire tournament here as the Gators down the Crimson Tide. ‘Bama won the only meeting between the two by 15 earlier this year, but a big game from Mann pushes the Gators to the final. Just. Florida 81, Alabama 79.
No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 3 LSU: LSU is good, but the Razorbacks are better right now. This is a game that Moses Moody simply takes over. Arkansas 81, LSU 80.
Final – Sunday
No. 5 Florida vs. No. 2 Arkansas: While Florida has done enough here to boost their NCAA Tournament seeding it seems like going against the hot hand of Arkansas is the wrong choice. The Razorbacks have been white-hot in 2021 and they will have more than enough for the plucky Gators on the offensive end. Arkansas 83, Florida 73.