Women’s SEC Tournament full of NCAA Tournament-caliber teams


Kentucky plays defense during the game against Mississippi State on Saturday, February 24, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Roman West

The women’s basketball SEC Tournament begins on Wednesday at noon in Nashville when Vanderbilt takes on Arkansas. The tournament includes all 14 SEC teams fighting for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

While there are many “locks” for the NCAA tournament (Mississippi State, South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M), the rest of the teams in the conference will be playing for their seasons.

Kentucky’s first matchup comes against Alabama on Thursday at 1 p.m. after earning a first-round bye. Kentucky won the first game of the season against the Crimson Tide 79-54 behind a 20-point, 10-assist performance from Taylor Murray.

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The winner of this game will take on No. 1 seed Mississippi State on Friday at 1 p.m.

Teams to watch

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are the defending national champions and have won the past three SEC tournaments. They have the SEC Player of the Year on their roster in A’ja Wilson. Keep an eye on her health as she missed the season finale against Tennessee due to vertigo.

Mississippi State: This is one of two undefeated teams left in college basketball and the first SEC team to go undefeated in regular season play in 20 seasons. They were also the last team to defeat UConn, before falling to South Carolina in the 2017 national championship game.

Players to watch

Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State: The 6–7 Bulldog center has been on a tear all season. She posted a career-high 41 points against Mississippi Valley State early in the season. In the final game of the regular season, McCowan had 20 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks against Kentucky. She was a unanimous First Team All-SEC selection.

A’ja Wilson, South Carolina: She is SEC Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. She averages over 22 points and 12 rebounds per game, ranking first and tied for second in the SEC, respectively. She was a unanimous First Team All-SEC selection.

Sophie Cunningham, Missouri: The junior guard with a long line of Missouri Tiger athletics in her blood is averaging 18.6 points per game on the season. She is doing so with splits of .561/.475/.837, numbers that no other player in the NCAA can match.

Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M: The only freshman selected to First Team All-SEC honors has averaged 21.6 points per game at Texas A&M this season. She scored 46 points against USC back in December, the second most by any player in the NCAA this season. In that game, she also hit the game winner with 10 seconds left on the clock.

The women’s SEC tournament runs from Wednesday through Sunday. All rounds of the tournament will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.