It’s never too early to discuss the potential field for the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is an expert on the topic. Lunardi released the January edition of his “Bracketology” projection, and he listed five SEC teams within his field of 68.
Kentucky led the way for the conference as a No. 2 seed in Lunardi’s projection. The Wildcats have rebounded nicely with two victories over Louisville and Ole Miss after sustaining its second loss of the season to Ohio State in late December. The Wildcats were placed in the West regional with their first two games being played in St. Louis.
The next-highest SEC team in Lunardi’s field was Texas A&M, who received a No. 5 seed. The Aggies are winners of four straight and are ranked 21st in the latest Associated Press poll. Texas A&M would travel to Denver for an East regional game against Arkansas-Little Rock in Lunardi’s projection.
The undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks earned a No. 6 seed in the bracket. The Gamecocks (13-0) would face either Arizona State or Texas in Providence, R.I. South Carolina has been the most pleasant surprise in the SEC up to this point, but will have to prove itself further in conference play.
Florida also made an appearance in the bracket as the ninth seed in the Midwest regional. The Gators (9-4) scored an impressive home victory against Georgia last weekend to tip off SEC play. However, the Gators have lost four of their six games against major conference foes, including four losses to ranked opponents. Florida was paired up with Utah in Des Moines, Iowa, in Lunardi’s bracket.
The final team to represent the SEC was Vanderbilt. The embattled Commodores were given a No. 10 seed and slated to play California in the South regional. Vanderbilt has played a cutthroat schedule and has been without center Luke Kornet for most of the season. The Commodores will have plenty of work to do in SEC play as they have lost games to Kansas, Baylor, Dayton and Purdue.