1. Alabama and Texas A&M will meet up for the second consecutive game. The two played on the final day of the regular season in College Station with Aggies winning 68-66. This amounts to a ‘must-win’ for the Crimson Tide as Bama enters the day at 56th in the RPI. The glaring concern for Avery Johnson and the Tide isn’t so much the 17-14 record, rather it’s the five straight losses. The selection committee no longer weighs a teams record in its final 10 games but it’s hard to ignore a five-game losing streaking heading into the postseason. The Crimson Tide already own five Quadrant 1 wins and can add another with a win over A&M. If they don’t, it would likely spell a trip to the NIT, as Joe Lunardi has the Crimson Tide as his final team into the field in his latest Bracketology. For A&M, the Aggies are still a team that I think can do damage in the NCAA Tournament. Before they get there, there’s a good chance that the Aggies could make a deep run in St. Louis, as they’re coming off of a win against Alabama and defeated Auburn in their lone meeting this year.
2. The long-awaited return of Michael Porter Jr. is finally here! The McDonald’s All-American and likely lottery pick in this summers NBA Draft has only played two minutes this season before a back injury sidelined him until now. The question for Missouri is how will the Tigers utilize Porter Jr. on both the offensive and defensive end. Mizzou ranks in the top 50 of both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Conventional wisdom would tell you that Porter Jr. would only elevate their play but anytime you incorporate a new player at this time of the season, there’s a chance that things could go awry. The case for Missouri is a tad different than that of Notre Dame. Like the Irish, who lost preseason All-American for over two months due to a foot injury, they missed their star player for the majority of the season. The difference is that the selection committee has seen multiple games before and, now, after Colson’s injury. While Porter Jr. would be debuting, making it more difficult to factor in how good of a team the Tigers are with him, particularly if it is for only one game in St. Louis. Either way, how Missouri looks with Porter Jr. in the lineup could elevate not only their SEC Tournament ceiling but potentially their NCAA Tournament seeding.
3. For Georgia, they’ll have to figure out what is the best way to slow Porter Jr. Head coach Mark Fox said that his biggest concern is not knowing what position he’ll play offensively. Another question for UGa is how Yante Maten matches up against Mizzou. Maten had arguably his worst outing of the season back in January in Columbia, scoring nine points in a 68-56 loss. Adding in another body in Porter Jr. could make things more difficult for the senior big man.
4. Mississippi State finds themselves in the same position as Alabama having to win in order to keep their bubble hopes alive. The Bulldogs enter the day at No. 72 in the RPI and own only two wins against Quadrant 1 teams, meaning they’ll likely need to be the last team standing on Sunday if they want to play in the Big Dance. Ben Howland’s team will have familiarity with LSU, as the two met Saturday in Baton Rouge with the Tigers having their way with MSU, 78-57.
5. Arkansas and South Carolina will be in the nightcap after the Gamecocks held off Ole Miss 85-84, behind a double-double from first team All-SEC selection Chris Silva. The Razorbacks enter the tournament shorthanded after Mike Anderson dismissed senior forward Daryl Thomas on Monday for a violation of team rules. In the two teams only meeting this season, the Razorbacks handled the Gamecocks 81-65, thanks to Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford combining for 49 points, which is likely to be the key for success again tonight. The matchup between Silva, who was co-Defensive Player of the Year and Arkansas freshman center Daniel Gafford should be one to watch out for. Silva only had 8 points in the first meeting while Gafford scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds.
No. 9 Alabama vs No. 8 Texas A&M 12:00 PM CT SEC Network (KenPom Prediction: 70-68 A&M)
No.12 Georgia vs No. 5 Missouri 2:30 PM CT SEC Network (KenPom Prediction: 65-63 Mizzou)
No.10 LSU vs No. 7 Mississippi State 6:00 PM CT SEC Network (KenPom Prediction: 74-73 LSU)
No. 11 South Carolina vs No. 6 Arkansas 8:30 PM CT SEC Network (KenPom Prediction: 77-72 Arkansas)
For updates throughout the SEC tourney follow me on Twitter, @JulianCouncil.