SEC in the “Big Dance”

When the college football “Bowl Season” rolls around each year, I generally find myself pulling for the SEC teams to win their games.  The SEC is pretty much regarded as the premiere football conference in the nation, and as a Georgia fan, I enjoy watching the other teams achieve success when they play outside of the league.  If SEC teams perform well in the bowl games, then it makes us Georgia fans feel a sense of pride about our team since they compete in this conference.

My question to everyone is – does this logic apply to the NCAA basketball tournament?

The Southeastern Conference only sent four teams to the Dance – Kentucky, Vanderbilt,  Tennessee and Florida.

The Big East got eight teams in; the Big 12 sent seven; the ACC is being represented by six of its teams.

Even the Big Ten got five teams into the tournament, meaning that the tournament committee feels that their brand of basketball is better than the SEC’s – in head-to-head this year, Big Ten teams mustered a 3-5 record against the Southeastern conference.

Should the SEC feel slighted (Mississippi State probably does)?

Should Georgia Bulldogs fans be pulling for the ‘Cats, ‘Dores, Vols and Gators to play well as they represent our conference?

Personally, I am having a hard time finding the energy to cheer on several of Georgia’s conference foes.

Vanderbilt I am ok with.  Woo hoo!  Go Vandy!

As far as Tennessee goes, I guess I could cheer quietly for them to win their first round match-up with San Diego State (although I do love a good tournament upset).  Bruce Pearl and his thuggish little boy, Steven, are not exactly the kind of personalities that will win over fans with their charm.  However, I still feel some sympathy for Tennessee considering that they lost their leading scorer to crime (Tyler Smith) earlier in the season, yet they have been resilient (minus their last game against Kentucky in the SEC tournament).

The others, not so much.

Kentucky’s John Calipari is a rule-breaker (he left UMASS and Memphis just before impending NCAA sanctions) and I cannot root for his Wildcats to win this tournament.  Coaching legend, Bob Knight, questioned Calipari’s “integrity” earlier in the season at a fundraiser in Indiana.   Last Summer, DeMarcus Cousins had committed to play for Memphis.  John Wall had all but signed his Letter-of-Intent to play there as well, until Coach Cal quietly scurried out of town.  Both these players jumped ship and took off for Kentucky, using the university as a one-year stepping-stone into the 2010 NBA Draft.  If you think either Cousins or Wall cares about Kentucky or the SEC (or has attended a class in the past 3 months), then you are a tad bit naive.

Pulling for Florida?  No way.  The Gators have enjoyed enough success in football and basketball over the past decade to last a lifetime as far as I am concerned.  I’d much rather see BYU go on to play Kansas State in the second round than watch Billy Donovan’s squad advance.

Hopefully next year’s NCAA Tournament will include the Georgia Bulldogs, a team that we can all cheer for.