It's last call for the Tigers if they want to go dancing. This is going to be a gargantuan task, but not an entirely impossible one (trying to be optimistic here guys, don't drag me down just yet and remind me that Johnny Jones is still the coach.) It's been a disappointing season to say the least, but as we all know, in college basketball more so than any other part of life, it's not over till the fat lady sings. Let's take a quick look at what needs to happen for Simmons to not be the first #1 pick to miss the tournament since the 70's.
Step 1: Florida needs to win it's first game, and then go on to upset A&M.
I just don't see this Tiger team keeping up with an Aggie squad that's finally found its rhythm offensively again in the latter parts of February. Any path to the championship game cannot lead through SEC coach of the year Billy Kennedy and his team. Johnny Jones cannot handle that task. We've seen enough to say that for sure.
Step 2: LSU needs to beat Vanderbilt in their first game.
This actually isn't as tough as it may look. Though the Commodores have been hot to close the year, aside from the major mismatch in the middle, there isn't much that really scares me about this match-up for the Tigers. Simmons and the rest of the team should be motivated as all hell to avoid further embarrassment by losing this first game (though it wouldn't surprise me if Benny has completely checked-out mentally by now), and Jones knows that it may seal his fate in Baton Rouge if they put in a lack-luster performance. This is a VERY winnable game, even in what should be a hostile neutral environment.
Step 3: USC finds a way to upset Kentucky
Again, this is actually maybe more likely than many may think. Kentucky has solidified their spot in the top echelon of the seeding (for which this year is going to be an all-time toss up) and the Gamecocks are exactly the type of team that could stymie this Wildcat offense. Maybe Skal takes a step-back (unlikely based off his extremely encouraging last two showings), UK has an off night shooting (distracted by the flames spewing from each of Frank Martin's orifices), and the South Carolina offense finds just enough scoring to put them over the top. It could happen.
Step 4: Beat Florida, and win the tournament.
If things go according to plan (unlikely, to say the least), and you get the Gators and the Gamecocks in games 2 and 3, you have a shot at winning it, like, for real. Easier said than done, but the door isn't closed entirely just yet. That's the only path, though, because you have to get the AQ to get into the madness. This is not a team that showed you should count on them when the chips are down. You can talk me into a scenario where the Tigers lose a facsimile of the Oklahoma game to Kentucky (would have to be a buzzer-beater to put down the Tigers at the end of an overtime, though) and find a way to sneak in because Alleva is on the committee and Ben Simmons is ESPN's latest man-crush. Realistically, though, you got to win the thing, and that only happens if you find a way to dodge those top two seeds.
God speed, Tiger fans.
Level of Difficulty?