SEC Hoops Update

It's do or die time for some teams in the SEC, including Vanderbilt. VandyMania's Mike ONeill gives us a look around the SEC.

Tennessee: The magic game for UT comes tonight – they head to Gainesville to take on the Gators in a game that would clinch the SEC East title with and E1 seed with three games left to play before the tournament, in which they should have a hearty orange crowd. Should they lose to the Gators, they'll still be a game ahead of Florida and will probably take the tiebreaker; they'd be 1-1 head-to-head, it would be decided by division record, where UF would be 5-3 while UT would be 7-1. It looks like Bruce Pearl will indeed lead the Vols to the E1 seed and get to skip first round of games.

Florida: The Gators look to be fighting for second in the East (see UT) and battling with UK for the all-important E2 seed and the bye that goes with it. Florida has already beaten UK this year, and the regular season finale at Rupp could be huge, especially since the Wildcats will be winding down a rough schedule. Right now, the Gators have a slight edge thanks to being a game up, having beaten UK once already, and having the easier schedule down the stretch. The outcome of their two tough games this week (hosting UT and at Bama), however, could change that by this time next week.

Kentucky: Tubby's ‘Cats have a game to make up in order to challenge for the second spot in the East, and tonight is the right time to it. While the Gators are hosting a Vol team coming off a tough loss, UK is hosting Ole Miss that has only won 1 of their last 9 games and hasn't won a road game since January 7. Easy games end there, though, as Kentucky travels to Baton Rouge and Knoxville before hosting a huge battle against Florida to end the regular season. Hard to tell if they can string some nice wins together and get the bye or really struggle and possibly even drop in the East.

Vanderbilt: The ‘Dores are due for a streak, and the schedule lines up well for it. After hosting LSU tonight, Vanderbilt heads to Columbia to avenge their loss to the Gamecocks, then to Oxford to face the swooning Rebels. If VU can win 2 of those 3 games, they'll be 7-8 heading into their home finale against UT, who will probably have the East wrapped up and have little to play for aside from bragging rights. Plus, finishing anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the East means their Thursday opponent in Nashville would be either Ole Miss, MSU, or Auburn, two of which they've already beaten.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have the same record as Vanderbilt and have a similar schedule as well. They host Vandy on Saturday and LSU next week, games that are sandwiched between road games at Georgia and at Auburn. Should the Gamecocks beat Vandy, they'll have the season sweep and likely lock up the E4 seed and perhaps even challenge for the E3. South Carolina's been an inconsistent team this year, so no games are locks; their outlook should really clear up after the game against the ‘Dores.

Georgia: The Dawgs can tie South Carolina for fifth in the East by beating them at home tonight. A win would also give Georgia the season sweep and the edge in the all-important tiebreaker. Winning two of their remaining games at MSU, at UF and hosting Arkansas should keep Georgia out of the East's cellar (and, more importantly, avoid facing Arkansas/Bama on Thursday in the tournament).

LSU: If they win tonight, the Bayou Bengalis can clinch a share of the West crown (and probably the W1 seed) after Alabama lost at Arkansas lasts night. Should they lose in Nashville, they'll have shots to clinch when they host UK, travel to South Carolina, then return home to play Ole Miss. It's a good bet they won't go 0-4 to end the SEC regular season, so we can safely assume they'll have the W1 seed when they return to Nashville.

Alabama: The Tide lost big lead in the second half in Arkansas last night, leaving the door open for Bama to slip out of their first round bye. The week doesn't get any easier with Florida coming to town on Saturday, though games against Auburn and MSU are their last two games. The Florida game is huge, as a loss would give Arkansas the chance to tie up the race for second.

Arkansas: What a big night for Arkansas. Not only did they keep their hopes of getting the W2 seed alive, but they did it in exciting fashion and carried the momentum from the upset of Florida last Saturday. They have a tough task ahead by traveling to UT on Saturday, though UT may already have the E1 seed locked up if they beat Florida tonight. The season ends with games against MSU and at Georgia – the two road games left may scare Hogs fans, as Arkansas is only 1-5 on the road in the SEC this year.

Mississippi: Poor Ole Miss. After starting SEC play 3-1, they've since gone 1-7 and now play a spoiler role in their four remaining games. Their games at Rupp and against Vandy play a large part in the East seeding, while their West opponents are the cellar-dwelling Auburn Tigers and an LSU Tiger team that could have the W1 seed wrapped up by their season-ending game. Look for them to play tough when they host VU on Senior Night, but I wouldn't expect much from them come tournament time.

Mississippi State: While Ole Miss is on a 1-7 run, State is recovering from the 1-7 run that started their SEC season. At 3-9, not a lot has gone right in SEC play, though a win at Auburn tonight could be quick bright spot before hosting Georgia. Their two final games (at Arkansas and hosting Bama) should play a huge role in which team will finish in the W2 seed – of course, the ‘Dawgs will be on the outside looking in.

Auburn: When the only games you've won this season are home games against Georgia and Ole Miss, you know you've had a rough season. While their next two games are against fellow lower-tier West teams MSU and Ole Miss, they must next play at Bama and then host South Carolina, with both teams fighting for tournament position. The Tigers could play spoilers down the stretch, but odds are they'll limp into the tournament as the team with the worst record in the SEC


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