Now that Sweet 16 play is here, it seems pretty obvious that the SEC is a dominant force. Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida are all undefeated and they each have threats that will keep them alive in tournament play for awhile. But, why are they so dominant and can they continue their winning streak? Here’s a breakdown of each team’s reason for success.
Head coach Cuonzo Martin says that playing in the SEC is tough and he thinks its unfortunate that there are only three in the tournament. The Volunteers became the third team to advance to the Sweet 16, spiking conversation that Tennessee could become the Cinderella team. But don’t mention that to players like Jeronne Maymon or Jordan McRae. Both are tournament veterans and they don’t want to “put a ceiling” on how far the team can go.
This team is extremely dynamic but they’ve been through lots of ups and downs to get to where they are now. Luckily, the Vols have the offense to remain unstoppable. They just need to stay focused and ignore all the Cinderella talk.
The Gators are preparing to face UCLA for a shot at the Elite Eight and coach Billy Donovan has reason to be disappointed with how his team started the tournament in the first place. When the Gators faced Albany, they were quite sluggish and did little to impress. Luckily for them, they’ve picked up the speed and now their journey to the top continues.
Florida is stacked well on defense, which will aid in their success against the Bruins. In the game against Pittsburgh, the Gators held the Panthers to 37% shooting. It was Scottie Wilbekin who scored the buzzer-beater to close the first half and helped to coast the Gators to an eventual victory.
Wilbekin is lucky to be playing for the Gators since he was suspended from the team for violating team rules that were never publicized. After plenty of begging and pleading, coach Donovan let him back on the team. Luckily for both Donavan and Wilbekin, the decision paid off. The senior has helped the Gators win two national titles and now hopes to assist in the third.
The wildcats ended Wichita State’s dream of going all the way when they beat them in a Sunday night competition. Coach John Calipari commented that his team played so well, he thought it could have been an Elite Eight game that should be sending his team to the Final Four.
Kentucky will be playing Louisville on Friday and since they were ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls, they want that top spot back.
The Wildcats won it all in 2012 and then lost in the NIT last year so 2014 is a year of the comeback for them. The team is being led by freshman guard Andrew Harrison, who led the team with 20 points on Sunday. His twin brother, Aaron, has been a huge asset to the team as well.