Advanced Model Projects Tennessee to Win SEC Tournament

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    NCAAM 2/26 Recap: #17 Tennessee Brings Down #3 Auburn 67-62

    The Athletic has come up with an advanced system that uses 100,000 simulations to predict the winner of the upcoming SEC Tournament. According to contributor Austin Mock’s model, the algorithm says that the second-seeded Tennessee Volunteers have the best chance to come out of Tampa with an SEC Championship.

    Mock’s algorithm that he created is wildly fascinating in that its simulation is on a massive scale. The model isn’t based on superstition, curses, or gut feelings – just the data from the season up until this point.

    “Austin Mock’s college basketball model factors in a plethora of metrics, adjusts them for opponent and home/away, and takes into account injuries,” The Athletic’s article stated. “He then uses those metrics and simulates the conference tournaments 100,000 times.”

    According to the model, Tennessee has the highest SEC Tournament win percentage among all of the simulations, coming in at 30.3 percent. In order, the model’s projections are as follows:

    1. Tennessee – Win % – 30.3
    2. Auburn – Win % – 24.3
    3. Kentucky – Win % – 22.2
    4. Arkansas – Win % – 13.2
    5. LSU – Win % – 4.9
    6. Alabama – Win % – 2.1
    7. Florida – Win % – 1.3
    8. Mississippi State – Win % – 1.1
    9. Texas A&M – Win % – 0.3
    10. Vanderbilt – Win % – 0.1
    11. South Carolina – Win % – 0.1
    12. Ole Miss – Win % – 0
    13. Georgia – Win % – 0
    14. Missouri – Win % – 0

    “I will say, though, that Tennessee’s offense can get ‘stuck’ at times and go minutes without generating much, but the defense is tough as nails,” Mock said in the article. “If the offense finds any consistency, this team can easily win the SEC and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.”

    Tennessee has not won the SEC Tournament since 1979, but they have been the runner-up in two of the last three tournaments. Regardless, though, this Tennessee team isn’t worried about what has or hasn’t happened in the past. If Tennessee can stay focused throughout the weekend, play their game with an emphasis on defense, and find production in the paint from their young big men, the Vols have as good of a chance as anyone.

    While there are potential upset spots littered around the Friday matchups, it does look like the tournament will trend toward Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, and Arkansas in the final weekend games.

    Tennessee had a shaky stretch, although not as shaky as Arkansas did, in the middle of the season as the Vols were transitioning through the Christmas break and into SEC play. However, since the Vols’ loss to Texas, Tennessee has been one of the most elite teams in the country. Tennessee handled their business on the road in all but one game (Arkansas) and defended their home court against every challenger that came to Knoxville this season.

    When it comes to a tournament at this level, guard play is one of the most make-or-break things that can happen to a team.

    “If you go back and look at the last 25, 30 years, it’s evident that you don’t win a lot of championships without good guard play,” Basketball legend Grant Hill said in 2017. “Guards dictate the style of play. Look at (national champion) Villanova last year. Ryan Arcidiacono wasn’t an All-Star or off-the-charts talent, but he was really good at what he did and what they wanted him to do.”

    Tennessee boasts three of the best guards in the conference as shown by Tuesday’s awards from the SEC.

    Santiago Vescovi is on the eight-player All-SEC first team, with Kennedy Chandler on the All-SEC second team. Meanwhile, both Chandler and Zakai Zeigler made the All-SEC freshman team as well.

    With those three guards leading Tennessee’s team, the Vols should feel as good as anyone heading into the tournament. If the young Tennessee big men (Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Jonas Aidoo) can bring the physicality and toughness to the paint like they did last month, the Vols will be able to hold their own against anyone in the upcoming SEC Tournament.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.