SEC Tournament Begins With Teams Looking To Cause Madness In Nashville; All Eyes On Alabama, Brandon Miller

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The honky-tonks are gearing up for SEC basketball fans to descend upon Nashville this week, with the men’s basketball tournament set to start on Wednesday night. Kentucky fans will take over Broadway, Tennessee fans will nervously await the first game and Alabama hopes to cap off the SEC season with a tourney title.

The talk of the tournament will most certainly center around the past two months for Crimson Tie basketball. Having reporters from different teams in town will bring a new set of questions for Nate Oats and the fiasco surrounding Brandon Miller. Oats, who is leading the top-seeded Tide into the tournament, will have to prepare for a peppering of questions, again.

Due to multiple missteps from a PR standpoint, Alabama and Nate Oats will continue dealing with this over the next few weeks, as the NCAA Tournament begins.

While Alabama heads to Nashville as the team to beat for an SEC title, there are a number of teams capable of sending the Tide home early from the Music City.

Can Tennessee’s Defense Lead Them To Consecutive SEC Tournament Titles?

Heading into the week, Tennessee currently has the second-best odds of winning the SEC Tournament. Can the Vols put together a run without Zakai Zeigler? This is the resounding question for Rick Barnes and his squad, with a defense that continues to play extremely well. The loss to Auburn this past weekend put the Vols into the Thursday slate of games, but this is a team that destroyed Arkansas last week after Zeigler tore his ACL.

Tennessee Volunteers guard Santiago Vescovi. (Getty Images)

If Santiago Vescovi can get into a rhythm inside Bridgestone Arena, this could lead to Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips finding mid-range opportunities. It won’t be easy for Tennessee, but this team should have a nice tune-up on Thursday before playing Missouri. We all know the Vols can play defense, but if this team has long spurts of bad shooting, they’ll be back in Knoxville by Friday evening.

I know how Tennessee fans feel about the month of March, but I’d just sit back and see if this team can pull-off another run, just as they did last season in Tampa.

Texas A&M Has To Be Feeling Good Heading To Music City

The Aggies were picked to finish sixth in the preseason, but ended the season as the No. 2 seed. This was certainly a wake-up call to other league members, with Buzz Williams giving Wade Taylor the ball and letting him take over the offense, alongside Tyrece Radford. One of the bigger questions is how far can this team go in Nashville? After making it to the tournament finals last season in Tampa, the Aggies are good enough to be playing on Sunday again this season.

Could we a rematch of the Aggies versus Kentucky in the semifinals? This will depend on Auburn and Arkansas. Both the Tigers and Razorbacks are good enough to get hot in Nashville, which could spell trouble for the Aggies in the quarterfinals. Either way, this side of the bracket should deliver in terms of potential upsets.

SEC Tournament Bracket
SEC Tournament Bracket and times for each game in Nashville.

Will There Be Nashville Magic For Vanderbilt Or Kentucky?

This Vandy team was put through the ringer in the first half of the season, but times have certainly changed. After winning eight of nine games to close out the SEC regular season, Jerry Stackhouse has his squad clicking. Does this mean the Dores will walk into Bridgestone Arena and continue their gritty play? No, but they could most certainly give Kentucky a close game on Friday, after beating them last week.

Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse. (Getty Images)

This Vanderbilt team lost 101-44 to Alabama on Jan. 31, but have now won eight of its last nine games following that embarrassing performance. The season-ending injury for Liam Robbins on March 3 will certainly test the Vandy bench, but the Dores did beat Mississippi State last Saturday without him. Either way, losing a big-man like Robbins will hurt, but the Dores still have enough shooters to get them to the Kentucky rematch.

If Vanderbilt can somehow win two games in Nashville, a tough decision looms in regards to NCAA Tournament status. Do I think Jerry Stackhouse deserved co-coach of year honors? No, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t done a helluva job these last 10 games.

As for Kentucky, they’ll certainly have the fan support, as the ‘Blue Mist’ descends upon Nashville. For the team, it’s been a year of questions. We know that Oscar Tshiebwe will be a dominating force in the paint, along with Jacob Toppin. The Wildcats were without Cason Wallace against Arkansas, while it sounds like Sahvir Wheeler will miss this week’s tournament, still recovering from an ankle injury,

CJ Fredrick played 15 minutes against Arkansas in the win, with John Calipari desperately needing more minutes from him, as he battles through a rib injury. It’s certainly been a hectic season in Lexington, but it wouldn’t surprise folks if this team made it to Sunday, or went home Friday evening.

It’s been that kind of season for the Wildcats.

Betting Odds For SEC Tournament (Tennessee Second Best?)

Deciding on a team in this year’s tournament to risk some money on shouldn’t be that difficult. Outside of Alabama, there are numerous squads that could make a run towards championship Sunday. I go back to last season, where Texas A&M made it to Sunday, eventually losing to Tennessee, but they got hot at the right time. So, this year actually presents a number of opportunities to make some money, if you’re willing to bet Alabama can be knocked off in Nashville.

Here are the updated odds for the SEC Tournament, courtesy of DraftKings.

Alabama (+150)

Tennessee (+300)

Kentucky (+400)

Texas A&M (+550)

Auburn (+1200)

Arkansas (+1200)

Missouri (+2500)

Vanderbilt (+4000)

Mississippi State (+5000)

Florida (+6000)

If you want to take a real risk, place some money on Ole Miss or Georgia, thought it’s highly unlikely either team makes it past Thursday, if they win their opening games.

Prepare for Kentucky fans to takeover Broadway, I know the local bars are ready to cash-in on the Wildcats. As for the rest of the tournament, it’s Alabama’s to lose, but I wouldn’t put it past someone to upset the Tide this week, if that team can slow down Brandon Miller.

We’ve made it to the conference tournament, so let the good times roll!

Follow @TreyWallace_ and OutKick for the latest news from the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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