The precursor to March Madness is upon us, as conference tournaments started in earnest this week and the SEC opens its annual showdown this evening.
The Gamecocks, by virtue of their fourth-place finish in the standings, secured a double-bye into the quarterfinals and won’t play until Friday. But there’s still some intrigue over the next couple of days, as their opponent has yet to be determined. The first step toward that matchup will be taken tonight, when Missouri and Georgia face off, and then South Carolina will see the winner of the second-round contest between Missouri/Georgia and Auburn.
Should the Gamecocks make it to Saturday, they’re on top-seeded and regular-season champion LSU’s side of the bracket. However, the Bayou Bengals are missing their coach, suspended in wake of the college bribery scandal.
Meanwhile, Kentucky and Tennessee will be competing for a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, with the Wildcats looking to win a fifth straight SEC Tournament crown. Florida, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State will also be jockeying for a place in the NCAA field. Barring a miraculous run to the title, the Gamecocks won’t make the Big Dance, but could improve their positioning for a possible NIT appearance.
First Round, Wednesday
Game 1: No. 12 Missouri vs. No. 13 Georgia, 7 p.m. (SECN)
Game 2: No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Vanderbilt, 25 minutes after Game 1 (SECN)
Second Round, Thursday
Game 3: No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas, 1 p.m. (SECN)
Game 4: No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12-13 winner, 25 minutes after Game 3, (SECN)
Game 5: No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama, 7 p.m. (SECN)
Game 6: No. 6 Mississippi State vs. No. 11-14 winner, 25 minutes after Game 5 (SECN)
Game 7: No. 1 LSU vs. Game 3 winner, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 8: No. 4 South Carolina vs. Game 4 winner, 25 minutes after Game 7 (ESPN)
Game 9: No. 2 Kentucky vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m. (SECN)
Game 10: No. 3 Tennessee vs. Game 6 winner, 25 minutes after Game 9, (SECN)
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 25 minutes after Game 11 (ESPN)
Game 13: Semifinal winners, 1 p.m. (ESPN)