After the NCAA released their top 16 teams in mid-season for the first time ever this week, the SEC found out where it stood. The Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats were three seeds while the South Carolina Gamecocks and the rest of the league only knew they were outside of the top 16. After another week of hoops, the league has four teams in with the Arkansas Razorbacks returning to the field following their win at South Carolina.
All RPI and strength of schedule rating taken from ESPN. Seed projections from NCAA committee and my own.
Florida: 21-5 (11-2)
RPI: 8 ... SOS: 15 ... Seed: 3
Quality wins: Kentucky, Seton Hall and Miami ... Bad losses: None
Last weekend the Gators were announced as the number 11 team in the country, good enough for the number three 3rd seed. The Gators took care of business after the unveiling, winning at home against Texas A&M before scoring 114 in a win at Auburn. Those two wins put Florida’s winning streak at seven. The resume is solid with Vanderbilt being the only loss outside the RPI top 50. It’s hard to rank the Vandy defeat as a bad loss considering the Commodores’ solid RPI and number of quality wins, but it was at home, though. If the Gators can avoid a bad loss and add an SEC championship, regular season or tourney, they could be a two seed.
Kentucky: 21-5 (11-2)
RPI: 10 ... SOS: 11 ... Seed: 3
Quality wins: North Carolina, South Carolina and Arkansas ... Bad losses: None.
Kentucky was ranked at 12 by the selection committee, good enough for the fourth 3rd seed. The Cats won both games this past week, knocking off Alabama on the road and avenging an earlier defeat to Tennessee at home. They are in the same situation as Florida: avoid a bad loss, win an SEC title and they’ll get a two seed.
South Carolina: 20-6 (10-3)
RPI: 25 ... SOS: 40 ... Seed Projection: 7
Quality wins: Florida ... Bad losses: Memphis
The Gamecocks are reeling after dropping their third home game to a bubble team this year. With losses to Clemson, Alabama and now Arkansas at CLA this season, Carolina is sliding instead of surging. After sitting between a four and six seed for a few weeks, Carolina is now sitting between a six and an eight. The Gamecocks need to stop the skid before they find themselves on the bubble. The resume is okay, a lot of wins over bubbles teams like Georgia, Michigan, Syracuse and Tennessee. There is also a fair amount of losses to bubble teams like Clemson, Alabama, Arkansas and Seton Hall. They travel to Vanderbilt and Florida this week.
Arkansas: 19-7 (8-5)
RPI: 34 ... SOS: 34 ... Seed Projection: 11 (First Four)
Quality wins: South Carolina ... Bad losses: Mississippi State, Missouri
Arkansas was outside the field of 68 heading into the week after losing at Missouri and at home to Vanderbilt. They were also down at the half against LSU before coming back for a road win. They then picked up a win at South Carolina. That is good enough to put them in Dayton for the start of the NCAA tournament. They have Ole Miss, Texas A&M, at Auburn, at Florida, and Georgia left on the schedule. 3-2 with a couple wins in the SEC tournament may just be enough. Only lose to Florida and they’ll likely be dancing.
Alabama: 15-10 (8-5)
RPI: 64 ... SOS: 57
Quality wins: South Carolina ... Bad losses: Auburn (x2) and Texas
The Crimson Tide avoided a bubble bursting loss with a comeback win over Missouri. That followed a home loss to Kentucky. Now it’s plain and simple for the Tide: they must win out to make the NCAA tournament. All the games left on the schedule are winnable. They play LSU, Georgia, at Texas A&M, Ole Miss and at Tennessee. If they win out, that would give them 20 wins and at worst a fifth place finish in the SEC, and would set them up to need to add a win or two in Nashville. The overall resume is not good enough yet: only four RPI top 100 wins with losses to fellow bubble teams in Clemson and Arkansas. Also lost to Valparaiso, which if they fail to win the Horizon League would be a bad loss. They had chances earlier in the season, holding leads against Oregon and Florida late in games.
Georgia: 15-11 (6-7)
RPI: 48 ... SOS: 17
Quality wins: None ... Bad losses: Oakland and Texas A&M
Georgia is also in must-win mode as they picked up wins over Tennessee and Mississippi State this past week. They sit in seventh place in the standings. They are sandwiched between Alabama and Ole Miss due to their 20 points home loss to the Tide and 22 point road win against the Rebels. They host Kentucky this weekend before traveling to Alabama in the week. They finish up with LSU, Auburn and at Arkansas. They cannot afford a defeat to anyone besides Kentucky.
Ole Miss: 16-10 (7-6)
RPI: 66 ... SOS: 45
Quality wins: None ... Bad losses: Texas A&M
The Rebels won two this past week over Auburn and LSU. They sit in a similar position to Alabama and Georgia. If they win out, they would pick up road wins against Arkansas and Alabama as well as a win over South Carolina. Their best win on the year came against Tennessee on the road. Nine of their ten defeats have come against teams in the RPI top 50. An NIT team for sure, win out and they’ll finish fourth in the SEC with a 20-win season. Win a game in Nashville and they could make the tournament.
Tennessee: 14-12 (6-7)
RPI: 45 ... SOS: 2
Quality wins: Kentucky and Kansas State ... Bad losses: Mississippi State
The Vols were flirting with the first four a few weeks ago but they have since dropped three of four. They lost to Georgia at home and at Kentucky this past week. They’ll also need to win out to have a shot at the tournament but they also need to win a few more games to get into the NIT for sure. They play Missouri and Vandy this week before finishing up with South Carolina and LSU on the road and Alabama at home.
Auburn: 16-10 (5-8)
RPI: 71 ... SOS: 76
Quality wins: TCU ... Bad losses: Boston College
Auburn dropped two this past week, losing to Ole Miss and Florida. Their resume is full of losses to bubble teams like Ole Miss, Georgia and Tennessee. They also have a loss to Vanderbilt. One thing they can take is that their two wins over Alabama is what could end up costing the Tide an NCAA bid. They play at Texas A&M and at LSU this week before finishing up with Arkansas, at Georgia and Missouri. Anything less than 4-1 means Auburn will finish under .500 in SEC play and likely out of the NIT, especially if they fail to win in Nashville.
Vanderbilt: 13-13 (6-7)
RPI: 57 ... SOS: 5
Quality wins: Florida, Iowa State and Arkansas ... Bad losses: Missouri and Bucknell
If Vanderbilt could put together a winning streak they would be in the NIT with their resume. They have the most Quality wins of any SEC team not in the tournament but they are .500. Losing at Mizzou by 20 points this past week certainly did not help their cause. They knocked off Texas A&M last night. They still can play their way into the NIT with South Carolina visiting this weekend. They then finish up with at Tennessee, Mississippi State, at Kentucky and Florida. It’s just hard to see them finishing above .500 right now. They also have lost to Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Ole Miss.
Mississippi State and Texas A&M join Missouri and LSU in this spot this week. Both State and A&M will need to win out to have a shot at the NIT but they have fallen to 11 and 12 in the standings respectively. With the number of teams ahead of them at this stage, it’s unlikely they’ll make the NIT. Missouri has become a spoiler the last few weeks, knocking off Vandy and Arkansas while giving South Carolina and Alabama close games. LSU’s losing streak is now at 12 games. They do, however, still play Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee as they look to burst some bubbles.