It’s hard to imagine that a defending national champion in College Basketball would struggle to make the NCAA Tournament the following season. But that is exactly the situation that the Kentucky Wildcats find themselves in going into the SEC tournament this week.
The Wildcats are probably in the big dance, thanks to a home win over the Florida Gators at the end of the regular season. But by no means are they a lock, particularly if they are unable to get a win in the conference tournament.
The Gators on the other hand are sitting pretty, and in line for a very high seed when the selection committee decides the fate of the field this upcoming Sunday.
Florida is the No.1 seed in the 2013 SEC tournament, and the heavy favorite to win it according to Bovada Sportsbook.
The Gators finished 14-4 during conference play, and are a 2/5 favorite on SEC Tournament betting odds to navigate their way through and earn that automatic berth, though they are a lock regardless of the outcome.
Florida could make a case for an outside chance at a No.1 seed if they win the conference tournament, though it is more likely that they will find themselves as a No.2 seed somewhere around the brackets.
Behind the Gators on the conference tournament lines are the Missouri Tigers in their first stint in the SEC this season. The Tigers aren’t the juggernaut they were last season, but they will certainly be in the tournament. Oddsmakers see Mizzou as the biggest threat to the Gators, though still well back in the payout. A wager on the Tigers is paying out 11/2 should they pull off the upset.
We mentioned Kentucky at the onset of this article, and they find their way into the No.3 slot on SEC tournament betting lines, installed at 7/1. thanks to that win over the gators, it has put a lot less pressure on the very, very young team. Kentucky would have at least had to make the championship game to have been considered, but now that might have some wiggle room. Though head coach john Calipari will be preaching to his team that it’s a one-game season from here on out.
Other SEC bubble teams looking for a tournament berth include Ole Miss (10/1), Tennessee (10/1), and Alabama (30/1).
The 2013 SEC college basketball tourney tips off Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET, and concludes on Saturday, March 16th.