Of the four teams that have advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals, only one, Alabama, hails from the SEC West; the other three, not coincidentally, finished 1-2-3 in the regular-season Eastern Division standings. Here's today's schedule:
Both should be good games, but the first of the two is even more intriguing. The Wildcats (23-8, 10-6 SEC) have had a so-so season by Kentucky standards but closed the regular season with five wins in their last six games, and handled a 20-win Ole Miss squad last night to advance to the tournament semis; they may be peaking at exactly the right time. Of course, the same could be said for the Crimson Tide (21-10, 12-4), who suffered some embarrassing early losses against a less-than-imposing non-conference slate but dominated their division once SEC play began. The coaches, too, are a study in contrasts -- Kentucky's John Calipari, of course, needs no introduction, while Alabama's Anthony Grant is in just his second year at the helm of a major-conference program but already appears to have the Tide headed in the right direction.
Grant clearly has the bigger burden on his shoulders today -- a high seed is virtually assured for the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament, according to Blogging the Bracket, while Alabama still resides among the "First Four Out." Tide fans are no doubt fuming that 20 wins, a 12-4 conference record and a comeback win over a tough Georgia team in the second round of the SECs still may not be enough to lock down an invitation to the Big Dance, but if the Tide succeeds in knocking off Calipari's team to advance to the SEC tourney championship, that probably won't be an issue.