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SEC Basketball Fever, NCAA Tournament edition

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Consider this your Thursday NCAA Tournament live thread:

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Tennessee vs Arkansas Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Some SEC and NCAA Tournament thoughts for you as the tourney gets ready to begin.

  • A record eight teams made the tournament this season from the SEC. It’s a pretty incredible turnaround considering just two years ago, only three teams made the field. But the money from the SEC Network started flowing and the investment into good coaches who can recruit has paid off.
  • Experience and winning atmospheres lead to the dismissals of two coaches who had done slightly more than tread water during the down period of the league. Mark Fox and Andy Kennedy helmed two programs which put little effort into their basketball programs and managed to sustain enough success in the league to avoid getting pushed out (until now).
  • Ole Miss is turning the keys over to Kermit Davis, a great basketball coach who did a lot at Middle Tennessee. But he’s basically an older version of Kennedy. Davis succeeded by finding under-the-radar recruits, JUCO prospects and transfers, which is how Kennedy was able to cobble together competitive rosters in Oxford. The only difference is that Davis will get to recruit to a nicer, newer facility.
  • Thad Matta turned down Georgia, which is good for Georgia. I love Matta as a coach, but he was clearly on a decline due to his health. What Georgia needs is a grinder who can compete for recruits in-state. Georgia has a chance to find a better fit, which is good.

Today’s SEC schedule:

  • 11:40 am CT: Tennessee vs. Wright State (TruTV)
  • 6:10 pm CT: Kentucky vs. Davidson (CBS)
  • 8:20 pm CT: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (TNT)
  • 8:57 pm CT: Florida vs. St. Bonaventure (TruTV)

Tomorrow’s SEC schedule:

  • 11:15 am CT: Texas A&M vs. Providence (CBS)
  • 2:10 pm CT: Arkansas vs. Butler (TruTV)
  • 6:27 pm CT: Auburn vs. Charleston (TruTV)
  • 8:50 pm CT: Missouri vs. Florida State (TBS)

Buy or Sell

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Boise Practice Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Which SEC teams might make a run to the Sweet 16?

  • BUY: Florida. Tough guards should be able to match up against the Bonnies, and match up well against Texas Tech in round 2.
  • SELL: Auburn. The downhill slide started when Anfernee McLemore got hurt, and they’ll have a tough time reaching the Sweet 16.
  • BUY: Arkansas. The Hogs are tough when Daniel Gafford, Daryl Macon, and Jaylen Barford are all going strong.
  • SELL: Texas A&M. A tough matchup against a Providence team full of good guard play and tough defense.
  • BUY: Tennessee. People really undersell the Vols’ toughness and capacity for timely offense.
  • SELL: Kentucky. Davidson is a really difficult first-round matchup, and Arizona is super talented, and ... oh, DeAndre Ayton.
  • BUY: Alabama. The Tide found their stride a bit before running out of gas in St. Louis, and Collin Sexton was nearly uncontainable.

SELL: Missouri. - Sorry, everyone, Unless Michael Porter Jr. suddenly finds himself — and he might! — it’s hard seeing Missouri winning more than one game.