By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
The SEC Tournament has a history that extends back to 1933, and Adolph Rupp’s Cats dominated the SEC Tournament winning 13 of the 19 tournament championships awarded before the SEC decided to discontinue the annual Kentucky Invitational.
Then, the conference renewed the post season tournament in 1979 under Coach Hall’s tenure. The first five champions after the tournament’s renewal were Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Georgia before Kentucky reclaimed its crown in 1984. At that point, the total record was 14 championships for the Cats in 25 tournaments. Since the Cats won this tournament for the first time in the modern era in 1984, the Cats have won 19 of the last 35 tournaments.
Coach Rupp won seven consecutive titles between 1944 and 1950. Coach Pitino was four in a row, and Coach Calipari currently owns a 4 game tournament championship streak. Alabama won three in a row between 1989 and 1991, and Florida won three in a row between 2005 and 2007.
Overall, the Cats have claimed the SEC Tournament trophy 32 times out of the 59 tournaments played. Alabama has won this championship 6 times.
Tonight, the Cats will open their defense of the SEC Tournament title against Alabama, a second round winner over Ole Miss on Thursday evening by 5 points.
The Cats played the Tide in their first SEC game of the season in early January, and left Tuscaloosa on the short end of a 2 point decision. Since that win over the Cats, Alabama finished the SEC season 8-10, including losses in their last 3 games of the regular season. Nevertheless, the Tide found a way to survive and advance in the SEC Tournament’s second round.
#39 Alabama enters this game with a 18-14 record. The Tides’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.1039 ppp (#24). The Alabama’s ANE for the season stands at 0.120 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0..103 ppp.
The Cats’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.1051 ppp (#23). The Cats’ ANE for the season stands at 0.282 ppp, their season ANE since game 7 has been 0.326 ppp, and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.272 ppp.
The ANE analysis based on Kentucky’s ANE since game 7 indicates a Kentucky margin of 14 points, 80-66, in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions. As a matter of record, the traditional ANE analysis indicates an 11 point Kentucky advantage and a “last 5” analysis indicates a UK advantage of 11 points.
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