"Can you tell me who does not make
the tournament or who hasn't put themselves in position at this point?"
"Anybody that wants to talk to me about how down the SEC is isn't really studying what we've done in our conference, particularly in the East. It's going to be challenging. I don't know who's going to falter."
For all of
That's three sure spots and three
possibilities. That means the SEC has three or four teams that need to play
there way in over the next three months, and as
The best example of a team with a
tough road to travel is
The Tide is also winless against
three top-25 teams, having lost to No. 4 Memphis, No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 13
North Carolina State.
"I don't want to play a soft
schedule, and the kids don't, either,"
"At the same time, we needed to win some of those games. You have to get some quality wins, and so far, we haven't done that."
Yet, in a story published last
Saturday in the Birmingham News, before
"We feel like we have a real good chance to be in the NCAA Tournament," Gottfried said. "If we take care of business."
How does he figure? Gottfried says it's a matter of finishing the SEC schedule with a winning record, then winning a game or two in the SEC Tournament and then hoping the NCAA selection committee will continue to favor strength of schedule or inflated records against weaker schedules.
In the long run, the Tide suffered an even bigger loss with when All-SEC senior forward Chuck Davis suffered a knee injury that will likely end his season – and his college career.
"My heart goes out to Chuck Davis," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said. "It's something you definitely don't want to see happen to a young man that carried himself with so much character for our league and his university. He always showed himself to be one of the most classiest guys in the league."
"On one hand, I'm not going to sit here and create excuses," Gottfried said. "On the other hand, Chuck's been the heart and soul for this particular team. Playing without him is hard."
OK, so we all just seem to "assume" Kentucky is on its way to another NCAA Tournament, but where would the tournament selection committee seed a team with a Kentucky team with a 10-4 record, a No. 19 ranking in the polls, a No. 27 RPI, wins over Louisville and West Virginia and losses to North Carolina and Indiana?
Now, throw in Saturday's ugly 73-46
Coach Tubby Smith's explanation? "We're just not very good," Smith said.
How did the team that beat
"You saw what I saw," said Smith, whose team produced only five assists. "Nobody was screening. No one was passing. Dribble, dribble, dribble. They pushed us out of our offense. You can't win at all like that. You have no chance of competing if you don't pass the ball."
"I think we were just manhandled," Smith said. "By that I mean they were physically stronger than we were. We talked of being more aggressive, more physical this year. That was our whole challenge to our team."
The Jayhawks also focused their defense on stopping Rondo and held him to nine points and three assists, his second-lowest total of the season in both categories.
"We did a great job of cutting off
That's not all.
"It disappoints me that we did not
defend very well," Smith said. "Not scoring is one thing. When you don't defend
at the other end ... So many easy baskets. Layups. Dunks. It wasn't just
Even worse, the Wildcats didn't act like they wanted to be there, especially in the second half.
"I was surprised
In the meantime, the Gators continue to improve as a team investing in chemistry and balance.
"That's the thing about this team," sophomore post Joakim Noah said. "Everybody scores pretty equally, and everybody gets after it defensively. We have so many weapons on this team. That makes it hard on the opponent. Who are you going to stop?"
So far the Gators have done a good handling their surprising success. They're not next challenge will be dealing with the No. 3 national ranking that is almost certain to come when the next polls are released this week.
"That's great," Noah said, "but at the same time we have to be humble because we know anything can happen."
It's always football season in the SEC and even as we turn the page on another season it's already time to consider the possibilities for another season. That includes taking a look at the underclassmen leaving early for the NFL draft.
No SEC team has benefited more from
juniors returning for their senior season in recent years than
That's why it's so surprising to see Auburn defensive end Stanley McClover pass up his senior season for the 2006 NFL Draft. McClover spent most of the 2005 season limping around on a high ankle sprain and really only had one big game, when he recorded 3½ sacks against Alabama, and is far from being a sure thing in the first two rounds at this point.
By the end of this week the SEC could lose as many as eight underclassmen to the draft, which is actually a relatively small number and a good sign for the SEC in 2006.