John Calipari: SEC will put 7 in NCAA

The SEC's addition of Missouri and Texas A&M has put the league in a position to field more teams in the NCAA tournament than it ever has before,
Kentucky coach John Calipari said Monday.

"Last year's league was really strong and prepared us to do what we did, to win a national title. There's no question about it," Calipari said on the SEC coaches teleconference. "You think about our league and the teams that we had, now you add Texas A&M and Missouri.

"Think about what happens now. Now we start moving up a notch in where everybody is. I think, again, seven teams in our league, half of our league is going to be in the NCAA tournament. That's what I believe. And I think that will be from here on in."

The SEC has never had more than six schools in the tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985, according The Associated Press. Only four teams -- Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama -- made the NCAA tournament last year.

Missouri went 30-5 last season, won the Big 12 tournament and was a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, where it was upset by 15-seed Norfolk State.

"We have a really good tradition here and we're excited about what we bring to the table," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "I think that we have a really good fan base, a great arena and hopefully we'll be very competitive in the league. ...

"I think being in the Southeastern Conference -- obviously Mizzou is a national brand and we can recruit nationally -- but I think there's no question it does open some doors in the Southeast from a recruiting standpoint."

Texas A&M missed this year's tournament but made six straight NCAA appearances before 2012.

Calipari wasn't alone in his assessment of the newcomers and their effect on the SEC.

"I'm excited about the future of the SEC," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "We've got some very good teams. There's the potential for this year to be one of the best in quite a while for our league.

"If you would poll the coaches across the league, I think you'd hear consistently that this could be a banner year for our league -- in terms of how many teams we can potentially get into the postseason."

Said Auburn coach Tony Barbee: "It's going to be a special year for the SEC, no question. ... It's as strong as any conference in the country. ... I think this year coming up could be a banner year, the best ever in the SEC where we're looking at getting six, seven, maybe even eight teams into the NCAA tournament."