Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2010

Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.

SEC Standings

EAST

  1. Kentucky 27-2 (12-2)
  2. Vanderbilt 22-6 (11-3)
  3. Tennessee 21-7 (9-5)
  4. Florida 20-9 (9-5)
  5. South Carolina 14-14 (5-9)
  6. Georgia 13-14 (5-9)

WEST

  1. Mississippi State 21-8 (9-5)
  2. Mississippi 19-9 (7-7)
  3. Arkansas 14-15 (7-7)
  4. Auburn 14-15 (5-9)
  5. Alabama 14-14 (4-10)
  6. LSU 10-18 (1-13)

It was an interesting week in the SEC as the “titans” spent most of the week knocking each other off. Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee all went through 1-1 weeks this week and Vanderbilt went a perfect 2-0 as the SEC East race got a bit tighter while Mississippi State emerged in the SEC West. Overall. the SEC is a bit improved over last year with four teams certain to make the NCAAs, and as many as six or seven possible when the dust clears. Despite their loss to Tennessee, Kentucky is still on pace to wrap up their 44th regular season SEC title. They just need a win or a Vanderbilt loss to clinch a tie and combination of two of those things to win the title outright. In the West, Mississippi State has clinched at least a tie.

Kentucky fell just one spot with the loss and now is ranked third in both polls. The pollsters seemed a bit confused about what to do with Vanderbilt and Tennessee. The AP Top 25 rewarded the Commodores’ 2-0 week with a jump up to 13th while the ESPN/USA Today poll has them at 19th. Tennessee moved up in both polls as the voters weighed the win over Kentucky more than the blowout loss to Florida earlier in the week. The Vols sit at #13 in the ESPN/USA today poll and #16 in the AP Top 25. No other SEC teams are ranked, although Mississippi State is the equivalent of #35 in the AP Top 25 poll yet they got no votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll. In the player recognition polls of the week, Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins was the freshman of the week and Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado was the SEC player of the week. Next week, we will look at my all SEC teams for the regular season.

Tournament wise, I would say that as of right now, four teams are solidly in… at this moment. Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee are a lock for the tournament. Kentucky should be a #1 seed while I would say that both Tennessee and Vanderbilt have a very good shot at being top four seeds. Both teams could move up to a three seed or even possibly a two seed by winning the SEC Tournament (although both teams would need a lot of help nationally to move up to a two.) Let’s say a three seed and a four seed await these teams. The fourth team I have in right now (if the season was over) is Mississippi State, although I would classify them as still a bubble team with work to do. The Bulldogs must travel to Auburn and then host Tennessee. The Bulldogs are low on quality wins, so a win over the Vols would lock up their status and maybe earn them a #6-#8 seed. A loss to Tennessee puts the Bulldogs solidly on the bubble again with 22 wins and I would say at least one to two wins in the SEC tourney would be needed. If they lose to Tennessee and win just one tournament game, they would have 23 wins… that may be enough but it will still be tenuous.

Another confusing team is Florida. Earlier in the week, they had a very impressive win over Tennessee and I had the Gators in the NCAAs. Then on Saturday, UF lost to Georgia and put themselves back on the bubble. The Gators are back in the position of having to beat either Vanderbilt at home or win at Kentucky. If the Gators lose both, they would sit at 20-11 and on a three-game losing streak to finish the season. They do have two big wins over Tennessee and Michigan State but I don’t see 20 wins being good enough. A win over the Commodores or Wildcats would probably punch their ticket. If not, the Gators may have to win two or three games in the SEC Tournament to feel safe. The Mississippi Rebels would be on the outside looking in right now. Wins this week over LSU and Arkansas would give them a 21-9 record and a four-game winning streak to finish the season. On the surface that may be enough to nudge out the Gators for the fifth spot, if the Gators do not win this week. The Rebels do have just one quality win (over Kansas State) and would be 5-5 in their last 10 games however. You could argue that even if Florida loses their next two games, they are a better tournament team as UF beat Ole Miss head to head and has two quality wins. I would say the Rebels need two SEC wins to seal the deal with 23 wins. I would say that both Florida and Ole Miss would have to win their way into the tournament, but if they play well, they will not be shut out.

So the SEC could have six NCAA teams in… or three NCAA and three NIT teams. There may not be any more teams for the NIT this year. South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama have had some good SEC wins on the year but are hovering at the .500 mark overall. I would think that each team would need to at least be over .500 to make the NIT. Georgia is a team to watch as a darkhorse in the SEC Tournament because despite their poor record, they have more quality wins (Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida) than all of the bubble teams.

Here is a look at this week’s top games to watch for as the SEC closes out it’s action:

  • 3/2- Vanderbilt @ Florida – 7 PM – ESPN
  • 3/3 – Arkansas @ Tennessee – 7 PM – ESPN 360
  • 3/3 – Kentucky @ Georgia – 8 PM – SEC Network
  • 3/3 – Mississippi State @ Auburn – 8 PM – ESPN 360
  • 3/4 – LSU @ Mississippi – 9 PM – ESPN
  • 3/6 – South Carolina @ Vanderbilt – 2PM – ESPN2
  • 3/6 – Mississippi @ Arkansas – 4 PM – ESPN 360
  • 3/6 – Tennessee @ Mississippi State- 6PM – ESPN
  • 3/7 – Florida @ Kentucky – 12PM – CBS
rtmsf (3725 Posts)


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