Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC Teams Didn't Play Their Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC Teams Didn't Play Their Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

CHICAGO -- The road to Atlanta is packed with Southern teams.

On their way home early.

The big winners of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament: Duke, Kansas, Maryland and, yes, Southern Illinois.

The big losers: Cincinnati and the Southeastern Conference.

The Missouri Valley Conference has as many teams in the Sweet 16 as the SEC. So does the Mid-American Conference.

One.

For all the talk of upsets, only four of the 12 teams seeded third or better fell. And three came from the SEC. Throw in the first-round tumble of No. 5 seed Florida and this sure looks like your father's SEC. Kentucky and a bunch of football schools.

"It shows that anybody can beat anybody on any given night," Georgia forward Jonas Hayes said.

Well, not anybody. Butler and Ball State never were given a chance by the NCAA selection committee. And after what happened at the United Center, you have to wonder if a few more small schools might have deserved a spot in the 65-team field.

It's a dog-eat-dog month. And yesterday the Salukis (an Egyptian dog, in case you were wondering) gobbled up the Georgia Bulldogs, coming back from a 19-point deficit to earn a trip to Syracuse and add to a dismal postseason for the SEC.

For years, the SEC has been complaining, sometimes with good reason, that it doesn't get enough respect when it comes to hoops.

This year it got respect.

It got six of the 65 spots in the tournament. It got four teams seeded fifth or better. It got what looked like AAA road map to Atlanta.

Then it got lost.

Creighton, Kent State, Texas and Southern Illinois.

These are the teams that eliminated Florida (No. 5 in the Midwest), Alabama (No. 2 in the South) Mississippi State (No. 3 in the Midwest) and, finally, Georgia (No. …

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