The first day of the SEC Basketball Tournament features a number of games that could range from blah to downright horrendous, but the third game of the evening, Tennessee vs. Arkansas, might actually feature some decent hoops. Click here for a complete bracket, and here's today's TV schedule:
Tennessee (18-13, 8-8 SEC) was supposed to be a prime contender for the SEC title, but had a major monkeywrench thrown into their season when Bruce Pearl was suspended for the first half of conference play for making improper recruiting contacts. Weirdly enough, they went 5-3 during Pearl’s suspension and just 3-5 with him back on the court (though that has a lot to do with the fact that Pearl’s first two games back were road games at Florida and Kentucky). Thanks to big early-season wins over Villanova, Pitt and Memphis, as well as a sweep of Vanderbilt in SEC play, the Vols’ presence in the NCAA tournament field is probably assured — SB Nation’s Blogging the Bracket projects them as a #9 seed — but a strong SEC tourney run might improve that a bit.
Meanwhile, Arkansas, with an 18-12 overall record and a 7-9 record in conference play, probably doesn’t make the NCAA field without winning the SEC tourney title. They do possess conference wins over Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee (they beat the Vols by three points in January), but those are balanced out by a bad loss to LSU and sweeps at the hands of Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The Razorbacks are likely headed to a middling seed in the NIT.