SEC Tournament Preview
If the SEC basketball season was never played, the Kentucky Wildcats would have been crowned champions. They were ranked second to begin the year and were seen as a contender for the national championship with their wealth of freshman talent.
But that is why the games are played and Kentucky will enter the SEC tournament as the number two seed having won a share of the SEC Regular Season title with a 13-5 record in conference.
The other team that finished 13-5 was the Texas A&M Aggies, who were anticipated to finish high in the conference this year but exceed the early expectations. The Aggies will enter the tournament as the number one seed and the second highest ranked conference team in the AP polls at 17.
The biggest storyline for the conference going into the season did not center around teams, but rather on the conference adding the top two high school players in the country. One of those players lived up to the hype, but the other was disappointing and looks to change opinions in this tournament.
Arguably the best player this year and the most fun to talk about was Ben Simmons. The consensus number one pick in the NBA Draft this summer, the freshman from Australia averaged a double-double for the year with 19.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. But he has received endless criticism this year for being too selfless and passing out of shots that he maybe should be taking. Not to forget that Simmons has also had endless academic issues which has disqualified him from Wooden Award consideration. Simmons will look to silence the critics and show why he is considered to be the number one pick.
That LSU team will have to wait until the quarterfinals to play, however, with their double bye and come in as a four seed. If the talent around Simmons comes to play, the Tigers have a good opportunity to win the SEC and play above the level they had all season.
For the other highly touted freshman, he had to wait a bit longer to finally figure it out and play to the level that was expected when he entered college. That freshman is Kentucky forward Skal Labissiere and his late season reemergence is what placed Kentucky as the favorites to win the SEC tournament. Labissiere, against LSU, put up 18 points and nine rebounds and has been putting in these high caliber performances late in the season for Kentucky.
Kentucky has not needed Labissiere however, as Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray have taken up a bulk of the production for the Wildcats. Ulis is the leader of the team at guard and a rare sophomore contributor for a John Calipari team, which will be welcomed against the senior heavy Texas A&M Aggies, if a matchup is imminent between the two teams.
With so many players with something to prove in this tournament, the SEC tournament has set itself up to be one of better tournaments this year leading into the NCAA Tournament. But if fans see Kentucky lifting the SEC Tournament Championship at the end of the week, do not be surprised. The team has gotten hot at the right time and with so many of their key players playing their best basketball at this current moment, the Kentucky Wildcats have the best shot to hoist the trophy. But if fans sleep on Texas A&M, the Aggies could slip past Kentucky and be the highest seeded SEC team in the NCAA tournament.
David Arroyo is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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