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SEC Women's Basketball Tournament: Assessing the Odds

On Tuesday, Hooper covered the likely opponents for the Lady Vols during the SEC tourney. Still, there's more to the conference than the likely Kentucky-Tennessee tilt on Sunday; there's a very real chance the SEC can get 8 teams into the NCAA tournament, which is no mean feat (unless you're the Big East, in which case you just stack your conference so full of teams getting eight happens as a matter of course). Since tournament action tips off today - and yes, that sentence sounds weird to say on March 1st, it's not just you - it's probably a good idea to assess the odds of each team taking home the trophy.

  • Auburn (13-16, 5-11), Mississippi State (14-15, 4-12), Ole Miss (12-17, 2-14), Alabama (12-18, 2-14): 200-1. It's probably even a stretch to call their chances at 200-1, but strange things happen. Somehow, Alabama beat Kentucky at home three weeks ago; this still makes no sense. Ole Miss comes in on an 0-11 skid, MSU didn't beat anyone who's not in this group, and Auburn has a win over South Carolina. Really, the Bama win over Kentucky makes absolutely no sense; that shouldn't have happened. The odds of that happening four days running for any of these teams is low.

  • Florida (18-11, 8-8): 40-1. Florida's the best example of conference depth by far; they've been tough outs in nearly all their conference games, They also have three good wins (swept the season series against LSU and a home win against Georgia). They also have a multi-game conference winning streak to fall back on, but facing a path that likely includes Kentucky, LSU, and Tennessee, that's tough sledding. The best I can see for them will be getting to the finals before getting steamrolled by Glory Johnson.
  • Vanderbilt (21-8, 9-7): 33-1. Vanderbilt's got a favorable draw - they obliterated Tennessee in Nashville the last time they faced, and there's a reason I'm writing off the games today (but I do expect someone to randomly fall - for purely selfish reasons, I'd be happy to see Vandy take the tumble), and the tournament's in Nashville. They have a multi-game conference winning streak (5 games in their case, including wins over LSU, Georgia, and the aforementioned Tennessee win), so they certainly can do it. Kentucky gave them fits, though; the best case I can see, like Florida, is getting to the finals, but Tennessee's also done well in return games after losing - ask Kentucky fans about that.
  • South Carolina (21-8, 10-6), Arkansas (21-7, 10-6): 20-1. Both these teams surprised me a bit, mostly because I wasn't paying attention as they got hot. Then again, both also won in Knoxville. There isn't much separating these squads (they split the season series too, each winning at home), both have an extended conference winning streak against good teams, but neither has great matchups. The Gamecocks have a decent matchup against Georgia before running into the Tennessee-Vandy winner, which looks ugly; the same goes for Arkansas, who gets LSU (they oddly won at each other's arenas in the season series) and then Kentucky, so good luck with that. I'm not sure either team has the depth to go from there unless there's chaos around the world.
  • LSU (20-9, 10-6): 15-1. Yeah, see if I say anything bad about Future Lady Vol Head Coach Nikki Caldwell's squad, who scared the crap out of Tennessee in Knoxville and have wins over nearly all the top eight seeds (Tennessee and Florida being the lone holdouts). They're peaking at the right time, but will get to start against a red-hot Arkansas team before running into either Kentucky (who they beat) or Florida (who beat them twice). At the end of the day, I don't see this year's LSU team being able to get by likely Kentucky and Tennessee in back-to-back games. (But soon enough, Nikki won't have to worry about that.)
  • Georgia (22-7, 11-5): 10-1. Georgia is a good, talented team, who gets absolutely rolled whenever they run into Tennessee. Probably isn't the best thing for them that they get the Lady Vols on their side of the bracket then, is it? There won't be a batch of louder Vanderbilt fans on Friday than the Lady Bulldogs, whose path to the conference title gets a lot easier without the Vols; they can handle Vanderbilt, but they also got housed by Kentucky. Maybe it isn't their year.
  • Kentucky (24-5, 13-3), Tennessee (21-8, 12-4): 3-1. This is what it had to come down to, didn't it? Kentucky's playing closer to their talent peak, Tennessee has a higher talent peak (it's getting in the way a bit, to be honest), they split the season series, they were pretty clearly the best two teams over the course of the conference season, and they're on a collision course for Sunday. Obviously, the path won't be easy but I'd feel a bit deprived if we don't see a rubber match (which I see as more of an even match - no more than 5 points either way).
This will also double as the open thread for the women's tourney games. We get started with Auburn / Florida at 1 EST (currently going on), move into Mississippi State / Vanderbilt at 3:30 EST, start the evening session with Ole Miss / Arkansas at 7:30 EST, and Alabama / Arkansas gets the evening shift at 10 EST. (For those concerned, Tennessee will tip at 3:30 EST Friday regardless, so clear your calendars accordingly.)