Across the (By)Line: SEC Tournament


Kentucky Wildcats guard Kellan Grady (31) high fives forward Keion Brooks Jr. (12) after a Grady three pointer during the UK vs. Florida mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 78-57. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

The “Across the (By)Line” series will give Kentucky basket- ball fans an in-depth look at the other 13 teams competing at the SEC Tournament — from the mind of the opposing schools’ sports editors.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 9, the 14 members of the Southeastern Conference will pile into Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida, with one one goal on their minds — winning a championship.

The Kernel spoke with sports editors and basketball beat writers from each student publication in the SEC, asking one question: Who’s going to win the SEC Tournament Championship, and why?

Austin Hannon, The Crimson White, Alabama

Kentucky is the popular pick, and I have to say I agree. Auburn is a great team, but I think BBN will show out in full force in Tampa, and the Wildcats will use it to their advantage. Look out for LSU, I like them getting to Saturday but losing in a close one to Auburn.

Mason Choate, The Arkansas Traveler, Arkansas

This year’s SEC Tournament should be as competitive as any in the past few years. I could see any of the top four seeds taking home the title, but Kentucky strikes me as the favorite. Of all the teams I have watched play this year, Kentucky is the most talented. If it is able to play to its full potential, I do not think any team will take Kentucky down. As long as the Wildcats remain healthy, they will likely earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Henry Zimmer, The Auburn Plainsman, Auburn

I think Tennessee pulls out the upset in the tournament and wins it all. The Vols are on a solid streak right now and have shown that they can beat Auburn and Kentucky. Tennessee is hitting on all cylinders lately and I think it’s highly possible they keep up the solid play and take it all the way.

Jackson Castellano, The Alligator, Florida

I think Kentucky mens basketball will join women’s hoops as SEC Tournament champions. Oscar Tshiebwe is in the midst of a season deserving of the NPOY award and shows no sign of slowing down. Despite Auburn topping the SEC rankings, Kentucky outranks the Tigers in NET and KenPom. UK will claim the title somewhat handily.

Cole Aycock, The Red and Black, Georgia

I have a feeling that the winner of the SEC Tourney won’t be an obvious choice like Auburn or Kentucky. I think Arkansas makes a run and wins the SEC tourney. March is always madness so I got a sleeper pick of Arkansas winning it.

Hunter Shelton, The Kentucky Kernel, Kentucky

Any of the top four seeds have a legitimate shot at winning this year’s tournament. All four teams have shown that they can get it done at home, but we’ll now see what happens on a neutral court. I think Kentucky got the worst draw of the four by having to play Tennessee in the semi-finals, as the Vols are one of the hottest teams in the country. It hasn’t played its best down the stretch of the season, but Auburn holds the regular season crown for good reason. I think Jabari Smith propels the Tigers past the Volunteers in the championship, cementing Auburn as a No. 1 seed.

Peter Rauterkus, The Reveille, LSU

For me, I have to lean Kentucky. When healthy, I think the Wildcats have the best and deepest roster and are solid on both ends. Add … National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, who gets 15 points and rebounds on an off night, and you have a team that’s hard to bet against.

Tanner Marlar, The Reflector, Mississippi State

My pick for the SEC Tournament is the Auburn Tigers. I think Bruce Pearl has done a great job recruiting, so much so that he’s got the best player in the country suiting up for him, in my opinion. It’s either them or Kentucky’s league to lose this year, even as the SEC continues to gain strength on the national level.

Ethan Burke, The Maneater, Missouri

I think Kentucky is going to win the SEC Tournament as long as they are at full strength. When the Cats are at their best, they are hard to stop as they are a complete team with talented guards in Savhir Wheeler and TyTy Washington, and dangerous in the paint with Oscar Tshiebwe, of course. When Kentucky is at its best, I believe it could be the best team in the nation, and I think it’ll be winning the SEC Tournament this year.

Catherine Jeffers, The Daily Mississippian, Ole Miss

I’m going to have to take the favorites, the Auburn Tigers, to win this year’s SEC Tournament. Bruce Pearl has kept his team atop the conference standings and taken down huge basketball powerhouses. I think their recent losses to Arkansas and Tennessee have lit a fire beneath them, and they’ll make a lot of noise in the tournament. If they match up with Florida in the Semifinals, it could lead to another defeat by the Gators, but I think Auburn has the talent to take the SEC and make a big run in the NCAA Tournament.

Lawson Murrell, The Daily Gamecock, South Carolina

Following Auburn’s dominance throughout the regular season, it would be hard to bet against them in the tournament. However, it is March. I predict that the mens tournament will mirror the womens tournament, in that the winner of the Kentucky-Tennessee semifinal matchup will go on to cut down the nets in Tampa.

Josh Lane, The Daily Beacon, Tennessee

I think Kentucky will win the tournament. I don’t love Auburn right now, and I’m not willing to take Tennessee on a neutral site. Oscar Tshiebwe was the best player in the conference, and I think he’ll lead the Wildcats to a title.

Kay Naegeli, The Battalion, Texas A&M

I think Auburn will win the tournament! Undefeated at home, SEC Champs … Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler have been balling all year and will dominate the tournament.

Justin Hershey, The Vanderbilt Hustler, Vanderbilt

I have a pick that Kernel readers might enjoy: Kentucky takes the championship in Tampa. When SEC play began, I may not have made this pick. But now the Wildcats truly look like the most well-rounded team in the conference. Top to bottom, this Kentucky roster has the experience, length and guards to get the job done this weekend. With Tennessee’s scoring droughts and Auburn’s inconsistent guard play, I like the Wildcats to prevail en route to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.