HOUSTON - MARCH 28: Detail of basketballs before the third round game of the South Regional between the Stanford Cardinal and the Texas Longhorns as part of 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on March 28, 2008 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The football powerhouse Southeastern Conference is trying to reclaim that status in hoops.
A year after the SEC had only three NCAA tournament teams, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings says "don"t be surprised if this year is dramatically, dramatically different."
Stallings said at media days Wednesday he believes six or seven teams could make the NCAA field. Missouri's Frank Haith expects at least five SEC teams to get into the NCAA.
Regaining that kind of March presence has been the focal point league-wide since only Florida survived the tournament's first weekend. That includes strengthening nonconference schedules.
Even perennial power Kentucky had to settle for the NIT, and was one and done there. Wildcats coach John Calipari has his team again the preseason SEC favorite with a prized recruiting class.