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2013 SEC Men’s Tournament Preview
Wednesday, 04/17/2013
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SEC Championship.jpg
Bobby Knight picks Georgia to win 2013 SEC Championship

It has been a wild and crazy year of tennis in the Southeastern Conference as the only 2 constants have been the performances of Georgia and Arkansas with the Bulldogs posting an almost flawless record of 11-1 while the Razorbacks are still seeking that 1st conference win and are sitting at 0-12.  Georgia is definitely the favorite to repeat as SEC Champions but they are by no means a lock.  Ole Miss is the host so you can’t count the Rebels out as they are the only team to defeat both Georgia and Tennessee this year.  Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina each finished strong while Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt struggled on the last weekend of the season.  As this year has taught us just about anything and everything is possible in an SEC dual so you can throw the seeds out the window and sit back and soak it all in.

Let’s dive right in and take a look at the schedule with my match by match predictions.  Follow along with the Live Scoring link and Live Blog provided by Ole Miss.   As a side note the weather could play a role on Thursday and Friday with a 40% chance of rain on Thursday followed by a cold front that will drop temps on Friday into the 40s and 50s. 

Live Scoring
Live Blog 
SEC Tournament Home Page

Weather Forecast for Oxford Mississippi: 
Wednesday:  Sunny and 83,
Thursday: Scattered storms/Windy and 82
Friday: Partly Cloudy with temps in the low 40s in the morning and warming to 57
Saturday: Sunny and 64
Sunday: Mostly Sunny and 71

1st Round  - Wednesday:
#12 Alabama vs. #13 Arkansas – 2pm est/1pm cst – The Crimson Tide rolled over Arkansas 6-1 in Fayetteville on March 8th and I don’t see this one being much closer.  Bama will take the doubles point and pick up singles wins at 2, 3, and 4. Prediction:  Alabama 4-0

2nd Round – Thursday :
#6 South Carolina vs. #11 LSU – The Gamecocks knocked off LSU 4-1 in Columbia on March 31st and I see a similar result coming in this one.  I like South Carolina in doubles and look for Harry Menzies, Kyle Koch, and Tsvetan Mihov to pick up singles wins.  Prediction:  South Carolina 4-0

#7 Vanderbilt vs. #10 Auburn – Auburn beat Vanderbilt 4-2 in Nashville on March 29th and even though both teams got swept on the final weekend of the season Auburn put up a fight in their matches while Vandy did not.  I think that effort and lack thereof will carry over this week and will play a role in this one.  I’ll take Auburn in doubles with Lukas Lopasso, Dennis Lengsfeld, and Lukas Ollert picking up singles wins.  Prediction:  Auburn 4-1

#5 Ole Miss vs. Alabama – These 2 met in the conference opener and it came down to a 3rd set tiebreak at #4 singles which was won by Ole Miss’s Stefan Lindmark.  I don’t think this one will be as close as Ole Miss will take the doubles point and pick up wins from Nik Scholtz, Jonas Lutjen, and Johan Backstrom.  Prediction:  Ole Miss 4-0

#8 Kentucky vs. #9 Mississippi State – The Wildcats will be attempting to beat State for the 3rd time this year (4-0 in Seattle & 4-2 in Starkville) but in both of those previous meetings they had Alejandro Gomez in the lineup.  Without Gomez in the 3 spot the Wildcats have struggled as everyone else has had to move up a spot.  I like State in doubles and look for James Chaudry, Jordan Angus, and Pedro Dumont to win in singles with Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai winning for Kentucky.  Prediction:  Mississippi State 4-2 

Quarterfinals – Friday:
#6 South Carolina vs.  #3 Florida – South Carolina knocked off Florida 4-3 in Columbia back on March 8th in a thriller that came down to a 3rd set at #2 singles.   Florida made a few lineup changes  down the stretch by moving Stephane Piro from 3 to 1, Florent Diep from 1 to 2, and Bob van Overbeek from 2 to 3 and those changes paid off as the Gators closed the regular season out by winning 4 of 5.  I look for Florida to sweep the top 3 courts in addition to taking the doubles point to pull out a narrow victory.  Prediction:  Florida 4-2

#10 Auburn  vs. #2 Tennessee – These 2 met in the regular season finale last Sunday and it was Tennessee coming away with the 4-0 shutout.  I don’t see the result of this one being much different though I think Auburn will play a little better.  Prediction:  Tennessee 4-1

#5 Ole Miss vs. #4 Texas A&M – These 2 also met in the regular season finale last Sunday and it was Texas A&M getting the win at home 4-1.  The change of venue should help Ole Miss and I look for the Rebels to take advantage of the home crowd and get wins from Nik Scholtz, Jonas Lutjen, William Kallberg, and Stefan Lindmark to come away with a razor thin win.  Prediction:  Ole Miss 4-3

#9 Mississippi State vs. #1 Georgia – Georgia beat State in Starkville 4-1 back on March 10th in a match where doubles wasn’t played due to pending weather.  In the 1st meeting State’s Romain Bogaerts wasn’t at 100% and had to retire in the 2nd set and State was also playing without James Chaudry.   I think this is a very intriguing matchup and I think this one could be a real dog fight (pardon the pun).  If Georgia puts Nathan Pasha and Ben Wagland at 2 and 3 then I like both of them to win over Malte Stropp and Chaudry but if the spots are reversed they might only get a split.  I like Hernus Pieters to win at either 4 or 5 and would like Austin Smith at 5 but not necessarily at 4 if he faces Jordan Angus.  I’d give the edge at 6 to State’s Pedro Dumont.  I will go with the Bulldogs from Georgia but I see State really pushing them hard.  Prediction:  Georgia 4-2

Semifinals – Saturday:
#3 Florida vs. #2 Tennessee – The Gators came into Knoxville on March 17th and came away with a 4-3 upset in a match that was decided by a close 3rd set at #6 singles.  I think the Gators will be a little tired after their match with South Carolina while Tennessee won’t have as much a struggle against Auburn.  I look for the Vols to take the doubles point this time and I like Mikelis Libietis, Hunter Reese, and Jarryd Chaplin at 1, 2, and 4.  I think Florida will have the upper hand at 3 and 5 but it won’t be enough.  Prediction:  Tennessee 4-1

#5 Ole Miss vs. #1 Georgia – The Rebels handed Georgia its lone conference loss when they came from behind to win 4-3 at home back on March 8th.  There should be a huge crowd in Oxford for this one and both teams may be a little worn out from playing grueling matches the evening before.  Despite the rowdy crowd I look for Georgia pull out the doubles point and take 5 and 6 singles while I like Ole Miss at 1.  The battles at 2, 3, and 4 will come down to the individual matchups.  If Georgia puts Pasha, Wagland, and Pieters at 2, 3, and 4 I think the Dawgs will have the upper hand on at least 2 of the 3 courts and will win going away.  If Georgia keeps the same lineup that they put out on March 8th of Wagland, Pasha, and Smith then we could be in for a barnburner.  I think Georgia makes the adjustments needed and comes out on top.  Prediction:  Georgia 4-1

Championship – Sunday:
#2 Tennessee vs. #1 Georgia – These 2 met in the conference opener back on March 1st in Athens and it was Georgia rolling to a 4-1 win.  Georgia played without its #1 KU Singh in that one but picked up wins at 2, 5, and 6 in addition to taking the doubles point while Tennessee’s lone win came at 1.  I look for Tennessee to come out strong and take the doubles point but I think the singles matchups favor Georgia and I see the Bulldogs winning at 3, 4, 5, and 6 to bring the title back to Athens for the 2nd straight year.  Prediction:  Georgia 4-1

Who do you think will come out on top and which upsets do you see happening?   Put your comments below and we will all have our answers by Sunday evening.