Getting you ready for the SEC women’s tournament, which runs Wednesday-Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee:
Five players to watch
• A’ja Wilson, South Carolina: First in the SEC in scoring (22.9) and second in rebounds (12.0), she chould put USC in the tournament final. However, the vertigo that kept her out of Sunday’s game at Tennessee is a concern.
• Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M: An easy choice to be SEC freshman of the year, Carter is second in the conference in scoring (21.6) and third in assists (4.6).
• Victoria Vivians, Miss. State: The engine that makes the unbeaten Lady Bulldogs go, the junior guard is third in the SEC in scoring (19.7).
• Chloe Jackson, LSU: Her smooth jump shot can fill up the basket, as evidenced by her 31 points Sunday against Alabama. If she’s hot, the Lady Tigers have a chance.
• Sophie Cunningham, Missouri: First in the SEC and third nationally making 3-pointers at a .475 clip, Cunningham is a matchup headache for anyone.
Team to beat
Mississippi State made national headlines by shocking Connecticut in the 2017 Final Four. The shock in this year’s SEC tournament will be if the 30-0 Lady Bulldogs don’t cut down the nets in Nashville. Only two SEC teams have gotten within 13 points of State: LSU 83-70 in Baton Rouge, Missouri 57-53 in Columbia.
No bubble to watch
Oddly, the SEC doesn’t have any teams on the verge of playing themselves in or out of the NCAA tournament. ESPN’s Charlie Crème projects seven SEC teams in the NCAA field, none lower than a six seed (LSU). SEC No. 8 seed Alabama (17-12) might be on the watch list except it has to play Mississippi State if it beats Kentucky.
Is there a dark horse?
Missouri tied for fourth but lost the tiebreaker to LSU, dropping to the No. 6 seed. If anyone can shoot their way out of an extra game it’s Mizzou, which has made the second-most 3-pointers (236) with the second-best 3-point percentage (.384). And there’s that narrow four-point loss to Mississippi State.
Rocky top indeed
No one has had more success in the SEC tournament than Tennessee, which has won 17 of 38 titles. No team is a bigger enigma, either. The Lady Volunteers are 5-5 against the RPI top 25, lost at home for the first time ever to Alabama, then smoked a Wilson-less South Carolina on Sunday by 19. Tennessee is, for Tennessee, a lowly No. 7 seed, but it will have as many or more fans in Nashville than anyone.
The hot seat
Coaching changes are all the rage in Mississippi. The next may collect Ole Miss coach Matt Insell. He has two winning seasons out of five in Oxford but is 69-86 overall, 1-15 in the SEC this season.