The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is more synonymous with football than with basketball. The University of Kentucky is an exception–they’ve been a powerhouse team dating back to the 1940’s–but the SEC’s success in basketball is a fairly new phenomenon. The SEC competes in 14 varsity sports for men and women and is arguably the best all around athletic conference in the country. That being said, football is almost a religion in the South and the SEC year in and year out plays the sport at a higher level than anyone else. In the sixteen-year history of the football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) the SEC won in nine of those years.
The University of Kentucky is still the flagship basketball program in the SEC. In fact, Kentucky is the winningest college basketball program in history and is second to UCLA in national championships won (8). Two other SEC schools have won the NCAA basketball championship–Florida (2000, 2006, 2007) and Arkansas (1994, 1995).
THE SEC CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT:
The SEC first held a postseason tournament in the mid-1930’s, but the conference would abandon it in 1956. In 1976, the SEC decided to revive the conference championship tournament and have contested it annually since then. The host for the 2015 SEC tournament is the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The arena is the home ice of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and thanks to a deal with the SEC will host the conference basketball tournament in seven of the next ten seasons.
All fourteen SEC schools qualify for the tournament. The top four seeded teams get a ‘double bye’ into the quarterfinals while the bottom four seeds face off in a ‘play-in game’. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic NCAA tournament bid. The Florida Gators are the defending SEC tournament champion, but the conference has enjoyed significant parity over the past few years with six different teams winning the last seven tournaments.
HOW TO WATCH SEC TOURNAMENT BASKETBALL ACTION:
Tickets for the 2015 SEC Conference Basketball Tournament are sold out through the official channels–the SEC and the Bridgestone Arena box office. The bulk of the tickets ended up with the SEC member schools meaning some tickets could become available depending on the level of student turnout. Typically, the conference and/or the host arena will announce this secondary ticket availability shortly before the tournament begins.
Alternately, tickets are available on the secondary market through websites like StubHub and SeatGeek. Demand for tickets is strong, however, so expect to pay a premium over the ‘face value’ session price of $350. Currently, StubHub’s SEC tournament tickets are selling for $770 up to $7500 for a front row center seat location.
SEC TOURNAMENT TELEVISION AND STREAMING COVERAGE:
The Southeastern Conference basketball tournament will attract interest from fans all over the country. The recently launched SEC Network will broadcast the first three days of the tournament. ESPN will take over coverage for the semifinals and championship games. Live streaming of the games will be available on ESPN3 and the SEC Network’s online platform. Both platforms offer a variety of formats including Apple OS, Android, Roku, X-Box, etc.
As is usually the case with ‘official’ network broadcast streaming the above-referenced live coverage will be available only to cable/satellite TV subscribers. ESPN3 offers subscription access to viewers in certain foreign countries. In addition, some countries may have broadcast affiliates covering the games on television and via online streaming.
OTHER WAYS TO STREAM THE SEC TOURNAMENT:
If you’re not able to view the SEC tournament stream using any of the methods outlined above there are several alternative ways to get in on the live action. It’s possible to use a US based proxy server to access geographically restricted streaming though it does have a significant ‘degree of difficulty’. It’s a handy thing to know how to do but does require some technical know how.
For most people, the best option will be one of the many live sports streams available online. Since the SEC basketball tournament is a very high profile event there should be no shortage of sources for live streaming access. Not only will individual games be available but with a little work you can locate a 24/7 network feed for ESPN and the SEC Network.
To locate SEC tournament games online, you’ll need to search one of the websites that index live sports streaming. Some sites of this type include Stream2Watch, FrontRowSports, and ADTHE. A Google search is the best place to start to make sure that you have the most up-to-date information and site addresses.