Southeastern Conference basketball teams begin practice in October, otherwise known as when conference play for football is heating up. They open their seasons in November, roughly when fans start projecting how many of the SEC's football teams will claim Bowl Championship Series berths. They open conference play in January, about the time when the league's best football team is being fitted for national championship rings.
But if the SEC's basketball lineup has trouble garnering attention early in the season, it's showing in 2014 that it can't be ignored at the end.
Through three rounds, the SEC's three entrants — overall No. 1 seed Florida, No. 8 seed Kentucky and No. 11 seed Tennessee — are a combined 7-0. They have given the conference three spots in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007.
Five conferences — the Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, Big East and Pac-12 — were ranked ahead of the SEC in the Sagarin Ratings, and all landed more teams in the field. The Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 doubled the SEC's invites.
But the conference that comes closest to the SEC's perfect win percentage so far is the Pac-12 at .778 with Arizona, UCLA and Stanford advancing.
Wins this weekend extended Florida's streak of Sweet 16 berths to a nation-best four and allowed Kentucky to tie Duke with the second-most Sweet 16 berths all time at 23. Tennessee is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010, when it reached the Elite Eight.