The 2013 SEC Tournament is widely believed to host the country's biggest array of bubble teams, and the conference's quarterfinal round on Friday could be a very solid stepping stone towards the NCAA Tournament for those who advance.
The quarters get going at 1 p.m. ET on ESPNU, as the top-seeded Florida Gators meet the No. 9 LSU Tigers. LSU withstood a second-half rally from the Georgia Bulldogs in the second round to get another crack at the Gators. Florida blew out the Tigers in the team's only meeting of the year in Baton Rouge, 74-52, on Jan. 12.
In the 3 p.m. ET afternoon pairing (also on ESPNU), the fifth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers face the fourth-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide in a true bubble battle. Each team won tight contests against the other on their home floor in the regular season, and the loser of this one figures to take a sizable hit to their tournament resume. The Volunteers got by the 13th-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second round.
The first game of the night session tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3, featuring the second-seeded Kentucky Wildcats against the tenth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores -- the tournament's lowest remaining seed. Kentucky's win over the Gators last Saturday certainly helped their NCAA Tournament standing, but they probably can't afford a loss to a Vanderbilt team they've already defeated -- albeit in close contests -- twice in the regular season.
And finally, in the quarterfinal nightcap at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN3, the sixth-seeded Missouri Tigers meet the third-seeded Ole Miss Rebels. The regular season series between the schools was split, with both sides winning on their home floor. Missouri, though a lower-seed here, is considered a more-likely tournament lock, breezing past Texas A&M in the second round, while the Rebels could certainly use a deep run in the SEC tournament to get their name back on the good side of the bubble.
A full bracket is available here. Friday's complete schedule (all times Eastern):
No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 LSU, 1 p.m., ESPNU
No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Tennessee, 3 p.m., ESPNU
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 10 Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network/ESPN3
No. 3 Ole Miss vs. No. 6 Missouri 10 p.m., SEC Network/ESPN3