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SEC Championship: Day 1 Preview

EDIT - 2:35:  LSU has moved on 4-2 over South Carolina and will play Ole Miss tomorrow.  They won the the doubles point, followed by a win in straight sets at #5 singles and third set wins by #1 Michael Venus and at #3 singles.

Alabama dispatched SEC #12 Vanderbilt 4-0.  The Commodores never really had a chance.  Alabama will play Florida tomorrow, the winner of which will be matched up against the Ole Miss/LSU winner.

I'll drop another update on you at 6:30 or 7:00 after the other two matches go final.

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The SEC Tournament begins today in Auburn, and the Rebel netters are one of four teams with byes.

The difference between the teams taking today off - Ole Miss, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida - and the teams playing tomorrow is stunning.  Florida looks vulnerable, but every one will be surprised if the Rebels, Vols, and Eastern Division Bulldogs are not still playing on Saturday.  And Florida, ranked #10 in the country and coming off a 7-0 finger-lickin'-good chomping of South Carolina, has looked impressive enough for the top seeds to still be the top seeds in the semifinals.

This is all to say that I will be surprised if anyone playing on Thursday is still playing on Saturday, but below are some match blurbs for the 5 - 12 seeds:

#10 Mississippi State v. #7 Auburn For whatever reason, Ryan Farlow was demoted from #1 singles in the Bulldogs regular-season finale against Ole Miss, which didn't help any.  The Western Division Bulldogs have been woeful all season long, while Auburn has actually showed some guts.  Their early-season loss to Mississippi State (3-4) is not indicative of their potential.  They did beat Florida last weekend, and I expect them to play on another day.  NEXT UP:  GEORGIA

#11 Arkansas v. #6 Kentucky Arkansas is another team that has really been in the dumps.  Their only wins are against South Carolina (more on them later) and Vanderbilt.  Kentucky, meanwhile, is a team that looks like it could have had a different season with some breaks.  The Wildcats have a win over Tennessee and lost a close non-conference match to Ole Miss in the ITA Tournament earlier.  They are a team that might need to do some work to get into the NCAA Tournament, and so have something to play for in Auburn.  NEXT UP:  TENNESSEE

#12 Vanderbilt v. #5 Alabama Vanderbilt has one lone SEC win against fellow bottom-feeder Mississippi State.  Meanwhile, Alabama is a strong team who has beaten who they were supposed to beat.  The Tide's four conference losses are against the top four seeds in the tournament, and they beat everybody else.  They also gave highly-ranked Pepperdine a run for their money early in the season.  NEXT UP:  FLORIDA

#9 South Carolina v. #8 LSU Here is a classic case of one team that's hot and another that's not.  Since dropping an epic doubles point (and, subsequently, all their singles matches) against Ole Miss, the Gamecocks have been awful.  They are the only team in the SEC without a win in April, and have, in fact, only won 3 points in April.  This team was ranked in the Top 20 when they visited Oxford.  LSU, meanwhile, has won three-out-of-five and has Michael Venus ranked in the Top 10 and and Top 20 doubles team.  With fortunes heading in the opposite direction, I see LSU moving one.  NEXT UP:  OLE MISS.