We’re two days into the 2022 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Tampa, and the action has just begun. At this point, all eight teams remaining finished within the top half of the league this season, and all have legitimate chances at making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament starting next week.
Southeastern Conference will have the opportunity to see the likeness of Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, LSU, Texas A&M, and even the poster SEC child, Kentucky.
Between the eight programs remaining, you three ranked inside the top ten, one in the top 15, and the remaining expected to make the NCAA Tournament. Out of those eight teams, Kentucky and Auburn are fighting like hell to earn the last number one seed on Sunday; Tennessee is in the running for a two seed, while Arkansas is battling themselves like they did last season when the Razorbacks advanced to the Elite Eight.
As far as the matchups go, Friday’s action is certain to entertain SEC Basketball fans from every program, no matter the pedigree.
Starting Friday off, we will see the SEC Regular Season Champion and top-seeded Auburn Tigers take on Buzz Williams and his Fighting Texas A&M Aggies. Texas A&M comes into the Friday morning matchup with Auburn riding sky-high following the overtime thriller win over the Florida Gators. Texas A&M hit a three-point shot with little to no time remaining to secure the win and likely at At-large NCAA Tournament bid to make this season all that much more special. Auburn and Texas A&M met once this season, with the Tigers coming out victorious 75-58.
Following the Auburn and Texas A&M matchup in the morning session on Friday, LSU and Arkansas will take the course in a highly anticipated rivalry game. LSU and Arkansas have a long-heated history between the two schools, with Friday SEC Tournament being the latest chapter in an underrated College Basketball rivalry. LSU got to this point by dominating Missouri on Thursday and will look to avenge the two losses already handed to them from the hands of the Razorbacks. On paper, the matchup between LSU and Arkansas is likely to be the best matchup of the day, with Arkansas going for the three-game seasons’ sweep of LSU. Will Wade and his team will be looking to continue building for a bigger and better future of LSU basketball.
In the nightcap, Mississippi State will take on Rick Barnes in the Tennessee Volunteers in the first game of the evening session. Mississippi State comes into the matchup with Tennessee hanging on by a thread to a slight glimmer of hope to make the NCAA Tournament this season. From a matchup standpoint, Mississippi State and Tennessee will be a rock fight; both the Volunteers and Bulldogs play a style of basketball that isn’t for the faint of heart. Whoever wins between the two will have earned a very physical, hard-fought battle that will only make them better for the NCAA Tournament.
In the late game of the night, you’ll have Kentucky facing Vanderbilt in front of a home crowd for the Wildcats. For years, Kentucky heads to the SEC Tournament every year with an entire army behind them ready to cheer for their boys in blue, and when Kentucky has the talent level that they do this season, it’s hard to compete with the Wildcats. According to multiple reports surrounding the program, Kentucky expects to be at full strength starting on Friday night and pending disaster, Kentucky, is the clear-cut favorite to win the SEC Tournament this weekend in Tampa.
With that being said, Friday’s Kentucky and Vanderbilt game will be a lot closer than a lot of folks around the SEC realize. From a basketball standpoint, Vanderbilt has caught fire in a bottle after coming from a 12 point halftime deficit to overcome the Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday night. Friday night won’t be easy for the Commodores, but with Scottie Pippen Jr, anything is possible.
Friday will be an electric day at the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Tampa, setting up for a wild ride to the finish line on Sunday afternoon. There’s no telling what will happen on Friday, but whatever does happen will forever go down in the folklore of SEC Basketball.