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SEC Bracketology: Florida and Kentucky play for SEC crown, South Carolina and Arkansas are dancing

Four teams look set for March Madness. Can Vandy provide a fifth bid?

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Another week of SEC hoops is in the books and heading into the final week of the regular season, the SEC tournament picture is clear. Florida or Kentucky can all-but wrap up the regular season SEC title tomorrow when they battle it out in Lexington. Arkansas has put themselves in good position to make the tourney with a four game win-streak. South Carolina’s slide has them tumbling down the ladder, but they will still be at the tournament. Also, seeding for the SEC tournament is still up for grabs with only two games separating third from seventh place.

All RPI and strength of schedule (SOS) ratings taken from ESPN. Seed projections from NCAA committee and my own.

NCAA Tournament

Florida Gators: 23-5 (13-2)

RPI: 5 ... SOS: 16 ... Seed: 3

Quality wins: Kentucky, Seton Hall and Miami ... Bad losses: None

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Florida Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Florida pushed their winning streak to nine games after knocking off Mississippi State and South Carolina. They have a tough final three games with trip to Kentucky this weekend before wrapping up with Arkansas and a trip to Vanderbilt. Beating Kentucky and a split will give them the SEC regular season title. They are solid as a three seed. Winning out and winning the SEC tournament likely gives them a two seed.

Kentucky Wildcats: 23-5 (13-2)

RPI: 10 ... SOS: 24 ... Seed: 3

Quality wins: North Carolina, South Carolina and Arkansas ... Bad losses: None.

Kentucky is in the same boat as Florida. Wins over Georgia and Missouri pushed their winning streak to five games. After hosting Florida tomorrow, they finish up with Vanderbilt and a trip to Texas A&M. Like the Gators, win-out and they’ll likely be a two seed.

South Carolina Gamecocks: 20-8 (10-5)

RPI: 30 ... SOS: 37 ... Projected seed: 7

Quality wins: Florida ... Bad losses: Memphis

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Florida Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks slide continued this week, dropping games to Vandy and Florida on the road to give them four defeats in five games. They are in no danger of missing the field of 68... yet. But they need to string some wins together to avoid the big boys early. A six seed is still attainable. With a favorable schedule left (Tennessee, Mississippi State and at Ole Miss) the Gamecocks can finish fourth in the SEC, pick up a win over Arkansas in the SEC tournament and be in the semi-finals. That could push them to a six seed. But if they were to lose two, with one being Ole Miss, they could finish as low as seventh in the SEC. That would have them sweating on selection Sunday, probably making the field as a 10 seed at best.

Arkansas Razorbacks: 21-7 (10-5)

RPI: 34 ... SOS: 71 ... Projected seed: 10

Quality wins: South Carolina ... Bad losses: Mississippi State, Missouri

The Hogs are looking more like a tournament team. They picked up home wins over Mississippi State and Texas A&M this week. They finish up with trips to Auburn and Florida before wrapping up the regular season against Georgia. 2-1 and avoiding an early exit at the SEC tournament should be enough to get the Hogs to a nine seed. Anything else and they’ll likely be sweating it out on selection Sunday.


Alabama Crimson Tide: 16-11 (9-6)

RPI: 82 ... SOS: 72

Quality wins: South Carolina ... Bad losses: Auburn (x2) and Texas

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia put the final nail in the coffin for the Tide’s NCAA hopes. Going 2-1 against Missouri, LSU and Georgia plummeted their numbers. They can still finish as high as third in the SEC standings though. Finishing with a trip Texas A&M, hosting Ole Miss and a trip to Tennessee, they’ll have NIT basketball as long as they don’t finish 0-3 and lose their SEC tournament opener. Only way to make the NCAA now is win-out and beat Kentucky or Florida in the SEC tournament.

Ole Miss Rebels: 17-11 (8-7)

RPI: 66 ... SOS: 52

Quality wins: None ... Bad losses: Texas A&M

The Rebels split a pair of road games this week, losing at Arkansas before winning at Mississippi State. They finish up with Missouri at home before travelling to Alabama and hosting South Carolina. 2-1 will lock-up a spot in the NIT. If they win-out, they’ll finish no worse than fifth in the SEC.

Vanderbilt Commodores: 15-13 (8-7)

RPI: 46 ... SOS: 2

Quality wins: Florida, Iowa State, Arkansas, South Carolina ... Bad losses: Missouri and Bucknell

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Commodores are the SEC’s best chance at a fifth bid. With their solid numbers and remaining schedule, they can sneak into the field. They knocked off South Carolina and picked up a road win at Tennessee this week. They finish up with Mississippi State, a trip to Kentucky and then host Florida. They’ll need to win-out and make the SEC tournament semi-finals to do, but they have a path. They could also lose their last two and SEC tournament opener to finish 16-16 and likely out of the NIT.

Georgia Bulldogs: 16-12 (7-8)

RPI: 50 ... SOS: 12

Quality wins: None ... Bad losses: Oakland and Texas A&M

The Bulldogs NCAA hopes were dashed when they lost another close one to Kentucky. They followed it up though with a win at Alabama, likely putting them in the NIT. They finish up with LSU and Auburn at home before travelling to Arkansas. Win the two home games and they’ll have NIT basketball.

NIT Bubble

Tennessee Volunteers: 15-13 (7-8)

RPI: 63 ... SOS: 8

Quality wins: Kentucky and Kansas State ... Bad losses: Mississippi State

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Brianna Paciorka-USA TODAY Sports

The Vols are in a similar position to Vandy. With their numbers, if they were to win out and make a run in Nashville they could sneak into the NCAA tournament. But they are currently 2-4 in February and finish the month at South Carolina. They split a pair of home games this week, beating Missouri before losing to Vandy. They are more likely to miss postseason basketball all together than make the field of 68. After the trip to USC, they travel to LSU and host Alabama. 1-2 puts them at ninth in the SEC. Combine that with a loss in their SEC tournament opener and that puts them at 16-16. They’ll need to beat LSU and Alabama to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Auburn Tigers: 17-11 (6-9)

RPI: 78 ... SOS: 108

Quality wins: TCU ... Bad losses: Boston College

Auburn will need to win their remaining games to make the NIT. They have the overall record to make it but they could finish as low as 11th in the SEC. They were beaten by 19 at Texas A&M before winning at LSU this past week. They finish with Arkansas, a trip to Georgia and Missouri at home. 1-2 could have them playing on opening night at the SEC tournament. Under those circumstances, they would need to win two, maybe three games in Nashville to make the NIT.

No Postseason

Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Missouri and LSU will need to win the SEC Tournament for postseason play.