Randy Smith: Renaming The SEC Tournament

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
We should probably go ahead and change the name of the SEC Mens' Basketball Tournament. From this day forward, it should be called the "Kentucky Invitational." After all, it's the Wildcats' tournament. Kentucky  has won four of them in a row, and the 'Cats have won 31 all-time while the rest of the league has won just 27. That is total dominance; more dominant than any other sport. Kentucky has more fans who travel than any other SEC school. No matter which venue is selected, the "Big Blue Nation" makes it a huge home court advantage. That was the case as usual last week as Kentucky defeated Tennessee 77-72 in the championship game in St. Louis. The Vols had beaten the Wildcats twice during the regular season but remember that old adage that it's hard to beat a good team three times in one year.

It appears that head coach John Calipari has gone away from the "one and done" approach to recruiting, at least for the last couple of seasons. Having a group of talented freshmen who play for Kentucky one season and in the NBA the next wasn't conducive to winning national titles. Calipari has posted a 273-63 record at Kentucky in nine seasons, with his 2014 squad winning the NCAA Championship and finishing 38-2.  The 2018 squad just a few weeks ago was teetering on the NCAA bubble as far as getting in the "Big Dance." A four game losing streak late in the season, gave way to a streak that produced seven of eight wins, taking them to their SEC title win. 

Kentucky has as much overall tradition as any school in the country. The Wildcats are 2,237-688 all time; tops on the list.  It all started with the late Adolph Rupp who won 890 and lost just 190 games from 1930-1972. That included four NCAA titles, 27 SEC regular season titles and 13 SEC tournament  crowns. The "Baron of Bluegrass" was the dominant coach in college basketball for many years, until UCLA's John Wooden won nine NCAA titles in the 1960's and 70's. Joe B. Hall followed Rupp at Kentucky winning the 1978 NCAA crown and Rick Pitino Tubby Smith and John Calipari each claimed one national title. The bottom line is this; Kentucky has dominated SEC basketball as much or more than Alabama has dominated the leagues' football fortunes. 

As we enter the world of "March Madness" this week, I don't see Kentucky advancing past the first two rounds of the tournament. The 2018 Wildcats are 24-10 on the year and they're seeded fifth in the South Region of this year's "Big Dance." Then again, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the "Big Blue" advancing all the way to the Final Four. They're playing their best basketball of the season at just the right time. After all, it is Kentucky, it's basketball season and the Kentucky fan base is excited. And when it's over, they can look past football season and look forward to next year's "Kentucky Invitational" in Nashville.    
  

* * *

Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


PREP SCHEDULES

FOOTBALL   FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 Brentwood Academy at Baylor Boyd-Buchanan at Chattanooga Christian McMinn Co. at Bradley Brainerd at Signal Mountain Howard at Central Cleveland at Maryville Heritage Copper Basin at South Pittsburg Sequoyah at East Hamilton Anderson Co. at East Ridge Grace at Ezell Harding ... (click for more)

UTC Football Hosts No. 17 Samford Saturday

The Chattanooga Mocs (3-0) football team hosts No. 17 Samford at Finley Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22.  This is the annual Academic Night, where all UTC student-athletes who posted a 3.0 or higher in the spring semester are honored prior to the 7:00 p.m. (E.D.T.) kickoff. Saturday's game is sponsored by the hard working men and women of Iron Workers Local 704. With exemplary ... (click for more)

Judge Collier Denies New Trial For Ex Pilot Travel Centers President Hazelwood; Did Not File Within 14 Days Of Verdict

Federal Judge Curtis Collier has issued a 48-page order denying a new trial for former Pilot Travel Centers president Mark Hazelwood. He said initial Hazelwood attorney Rusty Hardin of Houston, Tex., did not follow federal rules of filing notice of an appeal within 14 days of the verdict. Judge Collier also denied a request by Brad Henry, the new Hazelwood lawyer, for time ... (click for more)

Juvenile Shot On East 14th Street On Friday

A juvenile was shot Friday evening on East 14th Street. The Chattanooga Police Department responded at 6:45 p.m. to a person shot in the 2000 block of East 14th Street. Upon arrival, Officers located a male victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Hamilton County EMS responded to the scene and transported the victim to a local hospital. Members of the Violent ... (click for more)

Arming Teachers With Guns Will Be Too Dangerous - And Response (4)

Arming teachers with guns in the classroom, as Bill Lee proposes, would be the single most dangerous thing to happen to students in Tennessee history. Students and teachers in close proximity to loaded firearms daily? Across this state, in middle schools alone, there are probably hundreds of student/teacher conflicts a day. What if a student got hold of gun in a struggle with ... (click for more)

The Saturday Funnies

Before we get into this week’s edition of The Saturday Funnies, I want to share a fun chunk of information that we can have a lot of fun with tonight. Our pals at the website timeanddate.com were good enough to pass along the fact today marks the September Equinox. And – get this -- if you play this right, it will be just like the farmer says: “On the field of opportunity, it’s ... (click for more)