SEC Picture Not Much Clearer

The latest round of games really didn't do much to settle the SEC pecking order as it relates to NCAA Tournament consideration. While Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State can all grab their dance card, you still have four teams with work to do to make the field of 65.

Kentucky 17-11, 11-4, #47 ----- The Wildcats have been remarkable in rebounding from a terrible start to post the second best record in the SEC. They've even handled the loss of star freshman Patrick Patterson, beating South Carolina after almost upsetting Tennessee. Still you can't put "Big Blue" into the field just yet. A win over Florida should seal the deal, but a loss might necessitate a pair of wins at the SEC Tournament in Atlanta.

Florida 21-9, 8-7, #61 ----- The Gators gave great effort in their loss to Tennessee, but it wasn't enough to get the win Florida desperately needs. Florida's RPI is still within hailing distance for at large consideration (Stanford got in last year at #65), but they probably need to wins to get in. A victory over Kentucky would be enough, but the Gators cannot afford a slip up against Auburn or Alabama in the SEC Tournament. Thus they have to get two wins. Looking ahead the Gators will play the first game of the evening session (7:30) in Atlanta and, if they win would face Mississippi State in the second round at the same time.

Arkansas 19-10, 8-7, #41 ----- Just when you think the Razorbacks are in they fall to Ole Miss and put themselves back on shaky ground. Their RPI should help, but this is a very poor team away from home and the selection committee is bound to notice. The Hogs simply must win their season finale' against Auburn, and they probably will. Then they have a first round bye at the SEC Tournament. Arkansas will likely face Kentucky or Vanderbilt on Friday in what would be a must win situation.

Ole Miss 20-9, 6-9, #43 -----A loss to Arkansas would have been the final nail, but Ole Miss refuses to go away. Assuming they beat Georgia in Athens on Saturday they will still likely need a win in Atlanta. They'll get Georgia or South Carolina in that situation, so you have to like their schedule compared to the other teams in the hunt.

My guess is the SEC ends up being a five bid league with the Florida/Kentucky winner getting one of the two additional invitations. Arkansas is the favorite for the other one since they will have earned the bye in the conference tournament, but Ole Miss and the Florida/Kentucky loser won't go away either. The bottom line is there will be at least one NCAA bid on the line when the SEC Tournament gets underway and possibly more.

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


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