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SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: What to watch for

The postseason officially begins today.

Saul Young-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament begins today in Nashville, Tenn., and while the No. 8 South Carolina Gamecocks won’t play until Friday courtesy of a double-bye, here’s a quick look at what to expect as the event unfolds.

Mississippi State is gunning for the title

The top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Bulldogs haven’t lost a game since falling to South Carolina in last year’s national championship, completing the SEC’s first undefeated regular season since Tennessee did it in 1997-98. They’re undoubtedly the class of the conference, and the Gamecocks lost their only matchup against the Bulldogs this year, taking a 67-53 defeat in Starkville, Miss. South Carolina’s bid at a fourth straight SEC Tournament title could be in jeopardy.

The Gamecocks need A’ja Wilson to get healthy

Second-seeded South Carolina is more grateful for the double-bye now than ever, given the health of their star. A case of vertigo kept Wilson at home for the Gamecocks’ season-ending 65-46 defeat at Tennessee, throwing her status this week into some doubt. It goes without saying that South Carolina’s hopes only go as far as the reigning three-time SEC Player of the Year can take them. The Gamecocks will face the winner of Auburn vs. Tennessee on Friday.

The SEC is a deep league

The SEC currently has five teams in the Top 15 and seven teams altogether in the Top 25: No. 2 Mississippi State, No. 8 South Carolina, No. 12 Tennessee, No. 14 Missouri, No. 15 Texas A&M, No. 19 Georgia, and No. 24 LSU. Each should be comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, although there’s very little potential for the bottom half of the conference to make a push: Alabama is the only team with a winning record with a 17-12 mark. Still, half the league getting a ticket to the Big Dance is impressive.

Tournament Schedule

Wednesday

First round

Game 1: No. 12 Vanderbilt vs. No. 13 Arkansas, noon (SEC Network)

Game 2: No. 11 Florida vs. No. 14 Ole Miss, 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Thursday

Second round

Game 3: No. 8 Alabama vs. No. 9 Kentucky, 1 (SEC Network)

Game 4: No. 5 Texas A&M vs. Vanderbilt/Arkansas winner, 3:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Game 5: No. 10 Auburn vs. No. 7 Tennessee, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)

Game 6: No. 6 Missouri vs. Florida/Ole Miss winner, 9:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Friday

Quarterfinals

Game 7: No. 1 Mississippi State vs. Alabama/Kentucky winner, 1 (SEC Network)

Game 8: No. 4 LSU vs. Game 4 winner, 3:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Game 9: No. 2 South Carolina vs. Auburn/Tennessee winner, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)

Game 10: No. 3 Georgia vs. Game 6 winner, 9:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Saturday

Semifinals

Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)

Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Sunday

Championship

Game 13: Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)