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SEC Women's Basketball Tournament: Opening Day Games

As a Lady Vols fan, our chief interest in today's slate is the first game, where the Arkansas - Florida winner gets to play Tennessee on Friday.  Here is a quick rundown of the schedule.  All games are on FSN and ESPN3, though the '3 feed may or may not be blacked out, depending on which markets get the FSN game on television.  I'll leave this thread as an open comment thread on the games for the day (at least until the UT men's game) though I don't really expect much action in the comments.  Still, it's a more interesting opening round than normal, as many teams must do well in the SEC tournament if they hope to get an NCAA invite.  Losing in the first round may be devastating for Florida, LSU, Auburn, or South Carolina, and each game will feature one of these teams.

#9 Arkansas vs. #8 Florida, 1 PM EST

The Razorbacks and the Gators enter the tournament on opposite trajectories; Arkansas lost their final two games to Kentucky and Alabama, while Florida rallied to win three against Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Georgia.  The final two wins had an added level of impressiveness Vandy game was a day postponed due to weather, but Florida handled the extra day in Nashville well, then took a short turnaround and beat Georgia at home.  I expect the trends to continue, but it shouldn't be a blowout.  The first game of the day will be the best one to watch.  Florida 71, Arkansas 64

#10 Alabama vs. #7 LSU, 4:30 PM EST

LSU needs this win (and maybe one more) to get an NCAA invite, so they will have plenty of motivation.  Hidden in LSU's 80-60 loss to Tennessee is that they are actually a sharp defensive team thanks to their team height.  Meanwhile, Alabama has struggled to find offense all year long and, other than a 92-point outburst against Arkansas to close the season, failed to break 70 points in conference play.  Like the first game, I do not see reason for the trends to change, and LSU will pick up a much needed win as they bolster their resume for the NCAA selection committee.  LSU 72, Alabama 57

#12 Ole Miss vs. #5 South Carolina, 7:30 PM EST

This game is the secondary interest game for Tennessee; these teams are on the UT side of the bracket and could potentially play the Lady Vols on Saturday.  Ole Miss has been beset with injuries all year long, but unlike Tennessee, did not have the depth to recover.  Unfortunately, health may be too late and they are very much behind the curve with player development due to the loss of on-court experience.  Meanwhile, South Carolina has played themselves onto the bubble despite having the shortest roster in the conference.  They are coming off two tough overtime losses to LSU and Vanderbilt, but are playing better now than at the beginning of conference play and will give most SEC teams a good game.  South Carolina 68, Ole Miss 55

#11 Mississippi State, #6 Auburn, 10 PM EST

Also known as the "hardcore fans only" game, the MSU / AU tilt closes the opening day games.  The teams have played twice this year, with each winning on their home court.  Auburn has more talent and is rightly expected to win, but are just 3-6 in conference in games following their loss to Tennessee.  The key to this game will likely be MSU's ability (or inability) to score; they are one of the weakest offensive teams in the league and have struggled to score 60 points in conference play (achieving a high of 68 against Alabama).  I don't think an upset will happen here, but I do believe this is the game that an upset is most likely, as Auburn is one of the more inconsistent teams in the league.  They need this game for their NCAA resume, however:  Auburn 67, Mississippi State 57