BOZICH | SEC Hoops Snapshot: Kentucky, Kentucky, More Kentucky - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | SEC Hoops Snapshot: Kentucky, Kentucky, More Kentucky

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Joe Lunardi is predicting six teams from the Southeastern Conference will make the NCAA Tournament. CrashingTheDance.com agrees with what Joey Brackets is saying at ESPN.

Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com is not as bullish on the SEC. Just five teams on his bracket.

(The results of a readers' poll at WDRB.com Tuesday showed 56 percent of the respondents said the ACC was underachieving if the league only earned six NCAA Tournament bids. Here is the link.)

But five would be the most programs that the league has put in the party since 2011. Only the Big 12 and Big Ten are likely to do better.

“The SEC deserves an evaluation of what its teams are doing this year instead of what they have done in the past,” said Darrin Horn, an analyst on the SEC Network.

“The league is better. Teams from the SEC should not be penalized for what they've done in the past just as teams from other leagues should not be rewarded for what they've done in the past.”

That's absolutely fair.

All the chatter in the SEC this winter has been Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky – as it should be. But let's study an SEC snapshot as we move into the finishing stretch of the regular season.

1. ORDER THE RINGS: In some conferences this is a heated discussion. In the SEC it's one-and-done.

Kentucky leads the league from here to Fayetteville – and, fittingly, the Wildcats should clinch the regular-season title when second place Arkansas visits Rupp Arena on Feb. 28.

Unless John Calipari's team clinches it three days earlier against Mississippi State.

2. OVERACHIEVER: There is a reason that Texas A&M hired Billy Kennedy from Murray State. The man does good work.

The Aggies finished ninth in the SEC pre-season media poll. They were 8-10 in the league a year ago. A&M (9-4) is currently third, trailing only Kentucky and Arkansas. The Aggies have won back-to-back home games against Florida and Louisiana State. They're not an NCAA lock, but they're in the discussion.

3. UNDERACHIEVER: Sorry, Billy Donovan. Every season is not seashells and balloons. (Fifty bonus points if you know who introduced that phrase.)

Unbeaten in the league last season, the Gators have lost four straight and are tucked in ninth, seven spots below where Florida was predicted to finish.

Sure, they've been injured. But Donovan has not connected with this team. Unless something changes, Florida won't make the NIT.

4. BIG DOG: The numbers say go with Bobby Portis, Arkansas's dynamic forward. He's giving the Razorbacks 17.7 points and 8.6 rebounds, top five in both categories.

But if you were starting a team and had your pick of any SEC player, would you take Portis over Karl Anthony-Towns or Willie Cauley-Stein?

Didn't think so.

So I'm voting for Towns over Cauley-Stein. After watching all these games in the 50s and 60s, I've developed a bias toward offense. Towns leads Kentucky in offensive rebounds, he can make a free throw and block a shot.

5. FAB FIVE: 1. Towns, Kentucky; 2. Cauley-Stein, Kentucky; 3. Portis, Arkansas; 4. Devin Booker, Kentucky; 5. Jordan Mickey, Louisiana State.

6. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO … : The SEC pre-season first five included Portis, Mickey, Aaron Harrison of Kentucky, Michael Frazier of Florida and Jarvis Summers of Ole Miss. Summers has had the toughest season, shooting 35 percent and averaging just 12.4 points per game.

7. FAB FIVE (FRESHMEN):   1. Towns, Kentucky. 2. Booker, Kentucky; 3. Tyler Ulis, Kentucky; 4. Trey Lyles, Kentucky; 5. Riley LaChance, Vanderbilt.

8. COACHING KING: Kennedy, especially if the Aggies hang on to third place and make the NCAA Tournament. He started the season on the semi-hot seat. And he's doing it at Johnny Manziel University, a program that has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen three times in school history.

9. BROKEN CLIPBOARD: The only coach who appears to be coaching for his future is Anthony Grant of Alabama. He helped himself by defeating Bruce Pearl and Auburn twice. But the Crimson Tide (6-7) must win four of their last five to make the NCAA Tournament. Can't see it.

10. DANCE PARTNERS: 1. Kentucky (one-seed); 2. Arkansas (five); 3. Ole Miss (eight); 4. LSU (11); 5. Georgia (11). 6. Texas A&M (12).

(And if you credited former Marquette coach and NBC basketball analyst Al McGuire with the term "seashells and balloons," you get the 50 bonus points. Al equated those terms with victory and happiness. RIP, coach.)

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