LSU hoops roundtable: Can women’s hoops improve its seeding? Can men’s hoops finish strong?

LSU hoops roundtable: Can women's hoops improve its seeding? Can men's hoops finish strong?
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March is officially here and postseason play in college basketball is starting to heat up.

LSU women’s basketball begins SEC Tournament play later this week and the men’s team closes out the regular season this week looking to secure a top half spot in the SEC going into the tournament.

Both teams are coming off a successful week and still have a lot to play for as post season play heats up.

Our basketball beat writers at The Reveille got together to discuss what’s new in each program.

What does LSU women’s basketball have to lose and gain from the SEC tournament?

Tyler Harden: To be quite honest, there isn’t a ton of upside or downside for LSU headed into the SEC Tournament. This team has solidified itself as a solid 3-seed winning its last eight games of the regular season. 

To me, the only way to get to a 2-seed would mean both LSU has to defeat South Carolina in the SEC Tournament and lots of other chaos has to happen with teams around the country, especially in the Pac 12. 

With six top 25 teams in the Pac 12, a team outside the top 25 would either have to win the conference, or make it to the championship game. The odds of these both happening are very low, but it very well could happen. That’s why tournaments like these matter.

Tre Allen: I think they can gain more than they can lose from the tournament. If they win the whole thing beating teams like South Carolina, Ole Miss and Alabama then people are going to give them more respect and solidify themselves as a true title contender. 

If they lose then I still don’t think it will change the spectrum that much since LSU lost last year, but ended up winning the national championship. It will be interesting to see how they look in a postseason style of play.

Is LSU men’s basketball better without Jalen Cook in SEC play?

Jason Willis: I think when all is said and done, LSU’s ceiling is higher with Cook in the lineup. The problem is between lineup shuffling and Cook’s inconsistent shot selection and passing, we never got to see that.

LSU is playing its best basketball of the season and that’s happened without Cook, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a causal relationship. I think Trae Hannibal has played with a remarkable combination of calmness and energy, which has made the team settle down and run a more effective and deliberate offense. 

Tre Allen: I wouldn’t say LSU is better without him entirely, but as far as a starting spot, I believe so. Jalen Cook is still a good scorer, he’s a tough shot taker and tough shot maker so you have to take the good with the bad. 

He’s averaging 15.6 points per game this season and even though his percentages aren’t the best, you still appreciate 15 a game on any team. Trae Hannibal is the better point guard in my opinion with initiating the offense and not turning the ball over, but I don’t think they are better without him as a whole.  

How much of a concern is Mikaylah Williams’ injury going into postseason play?

Tyler Harden: It’s not much of a concern at all from what Mulkey told the media following their win over Kentucky. Williams could’ve played, but it was definitely the right move that she didn’t. Despite who you’re playing on Sunday, there was no point in risking Williams’ injury getting worse. 

The team’s SEC tournament seeding was already solidified. Definitely the right move keeping her sidelined until the SEC Tournament, and she should be able to suit up based on what we’ve been told.

Tre Allen: I don’t think it’s a concern. They said her hitting out was precautionary which I understand since they have to play again until Friday, and with the depth of this team, you can’t afford injuries in the postseason. 

I also think having her see the game from the bench as well can be a way for to continue to develop and adapt to the game since she’s still a freshman.

Arkansas is coming off a close loss at Kentucky and LSU men’s basketball travels to Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday. How much would a loss hurt LSU there?

Jason Willis: A loss to Arkansas would be understandable at the very least. It’s a team that’s playing very good basketball right now and is always well-coached. Let’s not forget the game is played in Fayetteville.

The loss would certainly hurt LSU, as the Tigers are currently fighting to earn a spot in the NIT either as an automatic qualifier or as an at-large bid. In both cases, a win could boost LSU’s NET ranking and give it a stronger case. It could also secure LSU a more favorable matchup in the SEC Tournament. However, a loss wouldn’t be embarrassing by any means.

Tre Allen: I don’t think a loss is the worst thing in the world since Arkansas is still very talented but just having an up and down season. Obviously LSU wants to go out there, win every game and fight for a tournament spot, but a loss wouldn’t derail the team.

It’s a road game against a team that LSU blew out the last time they played and Arkansas will come ready. However, if LSU loses this game, I don’t think it will be a huge deal since we see how LSU has been improving all season long.

Can LSU women’s basketball move higher than a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament?

Tyler Harden: Like I said earlier, it would take a ton of chaos around the country for that to happen. The technicalities are there that it could happen, but my guess is that the team heads into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed. LSU is in a good position right now, as the risk-reward factor for the SEC Tournament is very low. 

The biggest opportunity the team has is to show the country they’re as close to the team everyone expected them to be. And that would come in the biggest way with a win over South Carolina, and a seed increase may come alongside that.

Tre Allen: The only way I can think of them getting a higher seed would be if they won the SEC Tournament, beating South Carolina.

If you win the conference, defeat the No. 1 team in the country and already be inside the top 10 then it’s going to be a conversation to boost them up to a No. 2 seed. Outside of that, I think they are locked in for the most part with where they are.

How much would a top half finish mean for LSU men’s basketball in Year 2 under McMahon?

Jason Willis: McMahon said himself that a top half finish is a big deal to the team as a benchmark for how far the program has come, according to the broadcast of Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt.

It’s a clear step in the right direction for the program, but also sets a high bar for next year’s team to overcome with the graduation of key players.

When you look at the standings, finishing above teams like Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M is still in play. Even though those teams may see their seasons take them to the NCAA Tournament, LSU finishing on top of them is meaningful. 

Tre Allen: I think it would mean a lot. Looking at this team last year, the talent was simply not there and McMahon could only do so much with what he was given. Granted no one wants to hear that but it’s the truth. In his first season, they won two conference games last year and finished last in conference standings. 

Now you go into the transfer portal and get players who can score and have a bigger role on a new team and now you are .500 in conference including big wins over South Carolina, Kentucky and Ole Miss.

With two games left to play, the goal of finishing in the top half is real and now you can show how far this team has come from a season ago. 

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About Marc Lemoine 1841 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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