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NCAA Bubble Watch At Zero Hour: Defending Champs on the Outside

832136Last year’s NCAA Tournament champion Kentucky Wildcats spent an agonizing day on Saturday and will have another one today. They could do nothing more to help themselves after being bounced out the SEC Tournament on Friday in embarrassing fashion by a sub .500 Vanderbilt Commodores team 63-45. The Wildcats looked good going into the SEC Tournament with a #2 seed after beating the number one seed Florida Gators in the final regular season game last week. Nashville’s Bridgestone Center was two-thirds full of people dressed in blue to watch the Kats against a team they had beaten twice already this season. UK fans were so looking forward to this tournament, many of them showed up to watch the bottom feeders play on Wednesday. The arena was awash in blue all day on Thursday as well with the Wildcats awaiting the winner of the Vanderbilt game with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Then these fans sat through two more games on Friday before their team took the floor. That’s eight basketball games over a 48 hour stretch waiting to see their team play in what would be the biggest game of the season.

And they waited all that time for what? They showed up on Wednesday to watch a team try to at least get back into the tournament after winning it a year ago, only to watch them not show up at all. So the conference with the most “bubble teams” coming into the week, watched as a team with no post season aspirations popped the biggest of them all.

The Tennessee Volunteers fans who showed up hoping to see their team make a statement were also left empty-handed. At least their team did provide them with one win on Thursday over the Mississippi State Bulldogs before flaming out against their hated rivals, the Alabama Crimson Tide. It has been said all week the Tide must get to the championship game at least to have a shot at getting an invite to the Big Dance. For a while it looked as if they would get there on Saturday in their semifinal game against the Gators. Alabama led by 10 points in the second half before Kenny Boynton woke up from his season long slumber and lit them up with 16 second half points as he personally led the Gators into Sunday’s final.

The Gators will face the big winners of this tournament in the championship game, the Ole Miss Rebels. After a thrilling second half comeback on Friday over the Missouri Tigers and another late charge over Vanderbilt on Saturday, the Rebels came in on the bubble but are leaving with a ticket regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

This leave’s the Missouri Tigers. All week it has been stated the Tigers are safely in the field of 68. Why? The Tigers were sixth in the SEC regualr season. That’s behind Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Alabama. The Tigers lost to Kentucky and Tennessee and now Ole Miss twice. Why are they not sweating out Selection Sunday like the rest? Is their win over the VCU Rams carrying that much weight?

We are not saying we would not take the Tigers. We might,but a lock before the tournament even began? What if they had lost to the Texas A&M Aggies on Thursday? Are they still safe? They shouldn’t be.

A case can be made to keep the Tigers out just like the Vols, Cats and Tide. A case can also be made to let the Vols, Cats ad Tide in. Tennessee got a nice non-conference win over the Wichita State Shockers. It may not be VCU, but it’s close. They also lost to the Georgetwon Hoyas on the road by one point. Maybe a loss is a loss as far as the Selection Committee is concerned, but the reality is that is not the case. If teams like Alabama or penalized for “bad losses” such as the Tulane Green Wave and Mercer Bears (and they should), then Tennessee losing at Georgetown by one point should be considered a “good loss”.

The teams from the SEC who should be in, in our opinion are Florida, Ole Miss and Missouri. The teams that should go to the NIT include Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and the LSU Tigers. But we would have no quarrel if Kentucky, Tennessee or Alabama got an invitation to the Big Dance.

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