And Then There Were Three

Three games are all that remain in the SEC Basketball season and the latest round of results has certainly changed the picture as far as the SEC and the NCAA Tournament is concerned. Arkansas and Ole Miss certainly hurt their candidacy with Wednesday losses, while Florida, Kentucky and Mississippi State took steps in the right direction.

With Tennessee and Vanderbilt locks for tournament play and relatively high seeding, we will focus on the other seven SEC teams that are trying to get into the field of 65 with updates after each round of games. You will note that the five schools are much closer with regards to their RPI ranking, which is bad news for the two losers this week.

Also keep in mind that while 65 teams go to the NCAA Tournament, roughly 15 will be champs of weak conferences. So from an RPI standpoint the top 50 mostly get in, some below 50 might slide in if there are extenuating circumstances.

Mississippi State 19-8, 10-3, #41 --- The Bulldogs are not a lock but they are edging closer and one more win might do the trick. State got a solid win over Auburn and has a starting five as good as any in the SEC. Jamont Gordon is a strong contender for SEC Player of the Year and he'll bring his unique "power guard" game to the O'Dome Saturday afternoon.

Florida 21-7, 8-5, #51 --- The road win over Georgia actually did a lot of good for the Gators' RPI because road wins are extra valuable. The Gators are also getting a little boost from suddenly hot Florida State. A win over either Mississippi State or Tennessee ought to put the Gators over the top,

Kentucky 16-10, 10-3, #62 --- The Wildcats' RPI has been climbing gradually after a dreadful 6-7 pre-conference record that included a loss to Gardner Webb. Still you have to respect a 10-3 SEC record. Two more wins might get it done for big blue. Getting one at Tennessee Sunday would really be something.

Arkansas 18-9, 7-6, #45 --- John Pelphrey's team has definitely been like Sibyl this season. When you think they are ready to make a move they lose to an Alabama team that seemed to have folded up its tents. This is a very talented and dangerous basketball team, but they now desperately need a win at home against Vanderbilt Saturday.

Ole Miss 18-9, 4-9, #48 --- I keep asking everyone I can think of to explain why the Rebels' RPI is still high and I can't get an answer that makes any sense. They have wins over South Alabama and Clemson which are nice on-conference wins, but they are falling like a rock, having dropped eight of their last ten SEC games. I think Andy Kennedy is a fine coach and the folks in Oxford have always been very nice to me, but this team having an RPI higher than Florida or Kentucky is insane. They visit Alabama Saturday and if they lose I am officially burying their chances.

If you follow the Gators you know it's virtually impossible to get Florida coach Billy Donovan to talk about RPI or whether or not his team is "in" or "out". But, I thought I had a different way to get it done, asking Donovan if he thinks the SEC deserves five or six spots in the NCAA Tournament. I was wrong!

"Larry, it's amazing I have no idea, I really don't. Obviously Tennessee and Vanderbilt with the wins they've had those teams are talking about seeding. You have Mississippi State at 10-3 but other than that I just don't know. I couldn't tell you who Arkansas' non-conference schedule is, I don't know what Ole Miss' non-conference schedule is. I have no idea where any of those people are at RPI-wise. If I really thought that stuff had an impact on our team and could make us play better by all means I'd be talking about it every day. Whether we get five or six teams in, I really don't know. I can tell you right now there are some really good teams in our league based on the ones we've played against. The league is very, very good and teams have gotten better as the year's gone on."

Well, I tried.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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