NASHVILLE — Maybe this will be the tournament nobody wins.
Maybe after Saturday’s SEC tournament semifinals, commissioner Mike Slive will congratulate the participants, thank the fans, and wish everyone a happy NCAA tournament.
Go ahead. Pick a winner.
And for every reason you think that team will win, I will give you three reasons why it won’t.
There’s not a sure bet in the field — not when the field is on the road.
Take the average SEC team out of its home arena, and you might as well send it to Mars. It’s a league of homebodies.
Ten of the 14 teams failed to win more than one conference road game in the second half of the SEC season. Only Tennessee, which begins tournament play this afternoon, had a winning road record in the second half of the conference season.
Combine that with an 8-1 record leading up to the tournament, and that’s enough to convince you UT can cut down the nets at Bridgestone Arena.
I know the history.
You’re more likely to witness a tornado hitting the tournament venue than see UT holding the championship trophy.
A successful SEC tournament for the Vols usually means they won one game and didn’t get blown out in the second.
And that’s when they’re good.
When they’re bad, Kentucky beats them by 61 points (1993).
The Vols last won the tournament in 1979. Maybe it went to their heads.
In the 33 tournaments since then, they have won more than one tournament game only four times. In 13 of those tournaments, they were one and done.
Tennessee won two SEC tournament games in six years (2002-07). Georgia won two SEC tournament games on one day in 2008.
So why you would pick such a proven failure to win the tournament championship?
Check the competition. While UT has been building momentum, more acclaimed teams have been tripping all over themselves.
Florida is the No. 1 seed and the highest ranked team in the field. But look what the Gators have done lately.
They have lost three of their past six games and were last seen shooting as though blindfolded against Kentucky.
The Gators didn’t score in the last 7½ minutes against the Wildcats. A Florida offense hasn’t looked that bad since the Sugar Bowl.
Based on tournament history, you could make a case for Kentucky, a No. 2 seed. And if I hadn’t seen it all but roll over and assume the fetal position in a 30-point loss to UT, I might go along with you.
This Kentucky team is so un-Kentucky like, celebrity ’Cat Ashley Judd should send a stand-in to the tournament. Or wear her best disguise.
No. 3 seed Ole Miss at least has a shooter’s chance. The shooter, of course, is Marshall Henderson, who taunts better than he shoots and already has celebrated one victory in Nashville as is if it were the Final Four.
But after a 17-2 start, which included two victories over UT, Ole Miss is 6-6 in the last 12 games, and Henderson hasn’t come close to triggering a riot in an opposing arena.
Fourth-seeded Alabama has lost three of its last five games. And no team that could score only 37 points at Auburn wins three games in three days.
Missouri, a No. 6 seed, might be a better tournament pick than the top four seeds.
At least, the Tigers have come close on the road. Three of their last four road losses were by two points and the other was in overtime.
So, in a repeat of the regular-season finale — and I think the Mayan calendar will back me up on this — Tennessee will edge Missouri for the tournament championship.