SEC East: Still Advantage Gamecocks

South Carolina's win over Kentucky Wednesday night makes it even more likely the SEC Division titles will be won by rookie coaches. Trent Johnson of LSU has already wrapped up the West, and Darren Horn is in great position to bring a division title to Columbia, South Carolina.

Carolina (9-4) has a one game lead on Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee with three games left in the regular season. Looking at the schedules of the four contenders it's clear that the Gamecocks have a big advantage.

South Carolina ----- The Gamecocks play their road games against two teams with losing SEC records in Vanderbilt (5-8) and Georgia (2-11). The only contender left on the schedule is Tennessee and the Vols have to visit Columbia. The cumulative SEC record of the three teams is 15-24.

Kentucky ----- The Wildcats also have two games at home with LSU (12-1) and Georgia (2-11) visiting Rupp Arena. They end the season in the O'Connell Center in a game that could really solidify an NCAA bid for the winner while the loser might need two wins in the SEC Tournament. The combined SEC record of the Wildcats' three opponents is 22-17.

Florida ----- The Gators are the only contender in the SEC East that will play three teams with winning records. It's clearly a big plus that both Tennessee and Kentucky have to travel to the O'Dome, but a road trip to Starkville is no picnic. Florida has won all six of its SEC home games, but is just 2-5 away from Gainesville. Gator opponents have an SEC record of 23-16.

Tennessee ----- Bruce Pearl's Vols have to be the biggest disappointment in the SEC and they face tough road trips to Florida and South Carolina. A home finale' against Alabama is looking tougher with the Crimson Tide having won two in a row. Still, the Vols control their destiny and will share the East title if they win out. Their opponents are 21-18.


Here is an updated average of the ratings from, ESPN Inside RPI and Jeff Sagarin:

LSU 33
Tennessee 38
Florida 41
S. Carolina 46
Kentucky 47
Miss. St. 82

Historically teams in the top 40 can count on getting into the Big Dance, and 40-56 is pretty much the range of teams that will end up on "the bubble." Eventually about half those teams get in and half get left out. Florida's low strength of schedule will get a boost from all three games since each has a higher ranking than the Gators' current schedule strength rank of 132.

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