For LSU (19-12, 9-9), which beat Alabama Thursday night 68-56 to advance to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, there was some good news and some bad news from the second round of games in the Georgia Dome.
THE GOOD NEWS
- The best news, of course, is LSU won its own game. A loss to Alabama would've almost certainly crushed any chances the Tigers had of making any form of postseason. With the victory LSU stays alive for an NIT berth and technically an NCAA Tournament berth, the latter of which would still require the Bayou Bengals to win out in Atlanta. The Tigers now have 19 overall wins on the season, inching closer to that 20-spot that often is considered mandatory for postseason inclusion.
- Also helping LSU's prospects is the fact that Missouri hung on for the double-overtime win this afternoon over Texas A&M. Mizzou, along with Georgia, is already safely entrenched in the NIT. However, should Frank Haith's team pull the near-impossible and beat top-ranked Florida on Friday, the league's newest Tigers would re-enter Big Dance talk. And the more teams that crash the NCAAs, the better the opportunity for LSU to snag an NIT spot a team like Missouri left behind.
THE BAD NEWS
- Arkansas lost. Even though LSU winning helped its cause, this one stings a lot. The Razorbacks, losers of two straight to sub-.500 SEC teams, have the feel of an NIT team now. At some point, with only 23 NIT vacancies remaining, the SEC will run out of spots to take. It's not unprecedented, but it is unlikely that the conference get four teams into the NIT. So, knowing that only three teams are likely to make it to the NIT, here's how it's shaking out.
Arkansas (21-11, 10-8)
Georgia (18-12, 12-6)
Missouri (22-10, 9-9)
LSU (19-12, 9-9)
- Johnny Jones' crew entered this week behind all three of the others in the SEC postseason pecking order. Should the Tigers get past Kentucky for a second time this season on Friday night, it would seem hard to deny LSU a spot (maybe making the ultimate case for the SEC to get four into the NIT). Short of LSU going that route, and breaking down the NIT door so to speak, Tiger fans need to root for Missouri to keep winning ballgames, especially Friday's tilt against the Gators.
- For what it's worth, here was Jones' postgame comments on Arkansas losing and what it means to his team and the conference as a whole: "When you look at Arkansas and how well they've played down the stretch, they shouldn't be judged by this one game." If by some stretch he ends up being right, and the Hogs sneak into the NCAAs, then LSU's spot in the NIT may be secured now, before the Kentucky game. But it's hard for me to imagine the Tournament Committee will view Arkansas, which had a poor non-conference schedule, the same way Jones does.