Getting you ready for the SEC men’s basketball tournament, which runs Wednesday to Sunday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis:

Five players to watch

• Grant Williams, Tennessee. The 6-7 forward was the coaches’ player of the year after averaging 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He was a big reason UT, picked 13th in preseason, shared the regular-season title.

• Yante Maten, Georgia. The league’s top scorer (19.4) and second-leading rebounder (8.8) is a force inside and was the AP SEC player of the year. He’s the first to win for a team with a losing league mark in 47 seasons.

• Daryl Macon, Arkansas. Well-rounded 6-3 guard was fourth in scoring (17.1) and tied for fifth in assists (4.0), while leading the SEC in 3-point shooting (43.8 percent) and free-throw accuracy (86.3 percent).

• Bryce Brown, Auburn. If you like the long ball, you’ll love watching this 6-3 guard. Brown, a first-team AP All-SEC pick, hoisted 253 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and hit 100 in averaging 16.4 points a game.

• Collin Sexton, Alabama. The AP freshman of the year, Sexton is projected as an NBA lottery pick and will vie with Kentucky’s Kevin Knox to be the SEC’s first draftee. Sexton was second in scoring in the league (18.3).

Team to beat

In a wide-open tournament, No. 2 seed Tennessee may have an edge — but it’s a slim one: The Vols bring the longest winning streak into the event at just four games. Auburn, which has depth issues but shared the regular-season title with UT, could be there, too, but may be gassed by playing three consecutive days.

Bubble watch

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi's updated bracket has eight SEC teams in the 68-team NCAA field. He has Alabama in a play-in game as a No. 11 seed, which means the Tide could drop out with a loss in St. Louis. Missouri has the next-lowest seed at No. 8 and is safe along with Auburn (3), Tennessee (3) Florida (5), Kentucky (6), Arkansas (7) and Texas A&M (7).

Who's the dark horse?

Sixth-seeded Arkansas gives up points, but the Hogs can score a lot when their three senior guards are on. They lead the SEC in field-goal accuracy (48.1) and make 40.2 percent of their 3-pointers — 13th-best in the country. They had won six of seven until falling Saturday at Missouri.

Cats’ pause

Believe it or not, but Kentucky may well be dark horse No. 2. For once, the Wildcats, who have won 30 SEC tournament titles, aren’t favored after an up-and-down season netted them the No. 4 seed. They finished in a three-way tie for fourth at 10-8 and will be motivated to make up for it this week. Also, they had no first- or second-team AP All-SEC picks for the first time since 2007.


Twelve of the 13 full-time coaches in this year’s SEC tournament have coached teams to the NCAA tournament. Also, nine have been to the Sweet 16, seven have gotten to the Elite Eight and five have coached in the Final Four.

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.