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#pounditFriday, March 31, 2023

Bruce Pearl thinks he knows reason for SEC’s struggles in NCAA Tournament

Bruce Pearl coaching Auburn

Several conferences are having a March Madness to forget, and the SEC has become one of them. The league sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament, but only one is still standing after the first weekend of action.

The Auburn Tigers are one of the five that did not survive, losing to Miami in the Round of 32. After the game, Tigers coach Bruce Pearl excused his team’s performance, along with the rest of the SEC. He suggested that the league’s regular season was so tough, all the tournament entrants were too drained to make a deep postseason run.

Pearl’s reasoning does not really hold up under scrutiny. Kentucky lost to a No. 15 seed in Saint Peter’s, which cannot simply be blamed on a tough schedule. Alabama lost to a Notre Dame team that had played two overtimes two days earlier, while Tennessee fell to Michigan, a team from a conference that has made similar excuses. Meanwhile, the ACC, which sent five teams, got three of them into the second weekend.

The SEC is taking less heat than another power conference is, but it’s been a bad tournament for them. Few are likely to have sympathy for Pearl and his reasons.

Photo: Feb 8, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas won 80-76. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports


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