The Auburn Tigers (15–14, 8–8) have tickets to the Music City, though the team will have to work their way through the brackets.
The Tigers’ seventh–place regular season finish in conference play was not enough to earn a first–round bye in the tournament.
Following the Tigers’ 76–62 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats, their most likely spot will be the sixth seed versus the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs Thursday night.
Auburn and Mississippi State split the series during the regular season, with the Tigers winning the first game in January 45–41 in Starkville and the Lady Bulldogs winning the second match in February 57–45 in Auburn.
All 12 Southeastern Conference teams participate in the tournament.
The teams are not split into divisions. Rather, they are placed in a pool and those teams with the best records in conference play receive higher seeds.
The top four seeds receive first-round byes.
The championship game will be played March 6.
The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The NCAA tournament will travel through Auburn regardless, as the newly-built Auburn Arena will host two games of “March Madness.”
The Tigers were in a good position midway through the season to earn a high seed in the SEC tournament as well as a bid to the NCAA tournament.
However, a 3–7 stretch at the end of the season made the Tigers’ only likely shot at a tournament appearance achievable with a victory in the conference championship.
“We just learned how to fight for each other,” said junior guard Morgan Jennings of the late-season slide.
Tennessee (28–2, 16–0) holds the top seed and is the early favorite to win the tournament, but head coach Nell Fortner said everyone can compete.
“From 2–12 (seeds) anybody can win that tournament,” Fortner said.
The tournament is single elimination and one loss will knock out the losing team.
“It doesn’t matter what seed you are,” said senior Alli Smalley. “You have got to show up ready to play.”
Smalley is the team’s leading scorer with 350 points in 29 games.
The Tigers have averaged 61.6 points per game this season as opposed to their opponents’ 61.0 points per game.
The Tigers also force 18.8 turnovers per game and average 8.8 steals per game.
The Tigers have won the conference tournament four times before—in 1981, 1987, 1990 and 1997.
In addition, the Tigers emerged as regular season SEC champions in 1981, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 2009.