The 2013 Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament begins Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. Yes, I know I said Wednesday.
With the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC this year, the conference has adopted the 14-team conference tournament format that extends the event by one day; Wednesday.
The bottom four teams in the conference standings will be handed the unenviable task of having to win five games in five days if they want a punch card to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
The No. 12 seed South Carolina faces off against the No. 13 seed Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. ET and the 11 seed Texas A&M plays the No. 14 seed Auburn at 10 p.m. ET.
Do any of these four teams have a shot at destiny?
No. 11 Texas A&M (17-14, 7-11 SEC)
The Aggies have the best shot for a couple of reasons. To win the SEC tournament Texas A&M will have to win five games in a row and the Aggies are the only one of the bottom seeds to win at least five conference games in 2012-13.
But the Aggies’ path is also laid out with teams they’ve had success against. Texas A&M will have to beat Auburn, which it did on Feb. 20, Missouri, which it did on Feb. 7, and Ole Miss, which it did on Feb. 13, to make the semifinals.
If Texas A&M reaches the semis, they’ll face either Vanderbilt, Arkansas or Kentucky. Vanderbilt is the only team of those three that the Aggies didn’t beat this season.
No. 12 South Carolina (14-17, 4-14 SEC)
South Carolina and Mississippi State split their games this season, but both were close contests. If the Gamecocks beat the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament they’ll face Tennessee. The Volunteers beat South Carolina on Feb. 10, but only by five points.
If South Carolina get’s by both its first two games the Gamecocks face Alabama. The Crimson Tide won their earlier contest over South Carolina by 10 points.
No. 13 Mississippi State (9-21, 4-14 SEC)
Mississippi State beat South Carolina by two at home early in conference play and then lost by seven in Columbia, S.C. on March 6. If the Bulldogs beat the Gamecocks they’ll face a Tennessee club that thrashed them by 15 points on Jan. 19 and then if they beat the Vols, an Alabama team that beat them twice by a combined total of 40 points.
No. 14 Auburn (9-22, 3-15 SEC)
Auburn has won just three games this season, so winning five in five days seems outlandish. To add to the despair, none of the three teams Auburn has wins over this season on the Tigers’ side of the tournament bracket.