So, the SEC had three teams in the NCAA’s round of 16. Go figure.
And while the dust settles on South Carolina’s second-round bounce of Duke, it’s time to rethink perceptions of SEC basketball. Just maybe, after years of mediocrity, it’s on the rebound.
Of the five SEC teams to make the NCAA tournament this year, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida remain through the first weekend. Eighth-seeded Arkansas gave South Regional top seed North Carolina all it wanted before falling 72-65 in the second round.
Only Vanderbilt went home without a win, and that thanks to an inexplicable foul to stop the clock when the Commodores led Northwestern.
By comparison, nine Atlantic Coast Conference teams made the tournament. Only North Carolina survived the first weekend.
Four leagues got more teams in the NCAA tournament than the SEC — the ACC with nine, Big East and Big Ten with seven apiece and Big 12 with six. None have more teams left than the SEC has through two rounds.
The Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC each have three teams left. So does the Pac-12, which got four teams in the tournament.
We’ll no doubt hear familiar arguments about how teams from supposedly better leagues beat up on each other during the regular season, as if SEC teams don’t. Alabama beat South Carolina twice, and Auburn beat Alabama twice.
Alabama projects to get better next year with key additions including John Petty, so the SEC just might be playing out of its slump of recent years.