Over the last week, we saw the top three teams (Kentucky, Auburn, LSU) gain some breathing room over the rest of the conference.
There is also a battle brewing between Mississippi State, Florida and South Carolina for that highly coveted fourth double-bye in the SEC Tournament.
Rounding out the middle of the pack are teams like Texas A&M, Tennessee and Alabama who will put up a fight if you are one of the unlucky teams that have to play them in the final two games of the regular season.
As of right now, only Kentucky, Auburn and LSU likely have their tickets punched for the NCAA Tournament, and that leaves the rest pulling for resumé boosters.
Coming right before a week filled with likely drama, here is the final regular season edition of SEC rankings.
The Wildcats have won eight straight, good for the longest streak in the conference, and they just defeated a formidable Auburn team last Saturday. Kentucky is peaking at the right time, but they still have two games left on the schedule against Tennessee and Florida. Let’s see if they finish strong.
Auburn got out of their funk by beating Tennessee and Ole Miss, and they were then met with a true test: Kentucky. The Tigers dropped that contest, but let’s not forget who took that game earlier this year. If Auburn plays anyone on a neutral court, anything is truly on the table.
Having a firm grasp on that double-bye in the SEC Tournament, LSU has won two of their last three. Their guy, Skylar Mays, has been inconsistent as of late, but his teammates have been able to do just fine without his healthy dose of scoring. LSU finishes their conference slate with Arkansas and Georgia, two teams that have struggled mightily in SEC play. If those games go according to plan, LSU may even be able to snag the #2 slot away from Auburn.
How do you think the Gators followed up their win versus LSU? You guessed it, with an L to Tennessee. If Florida can’t play two quality games in a row, how can we expect them to win at least three straight in the SEC Tournament? They have loads of talent. They just need to find a way to use it more consistently.
5. Mississippi State
The rise of Mississippi State is upon us. The Bulldogs have won four of their last five, and they now look to close out conference play with two dubs. If they get their wish, they will most likely qualify for the big dance later this month. Will Reggie Perry take this team there? South Carolina stands in their way.
6. South Carolina
Speaking of South Carolina, their bubble has somehow not popped yet. Many would have assumed after the loss at Alabama that their season would have been done, but nope. The incompetence of the rest of the NCAA let them hang onto their “Next Four Out” title for at least another game. The Gamecocks look to get revenge on Mississippi State after the Bulldogs took round one in February. If USC wins this one, things could get interesting...
The Volunteers don’t have much to play for at this point, but they must not be thinking that way. Tennessee took down Florida last Saturday and were led by John Fulkerson in that contest. Other than that lone victory, they haven’t been playing too hot, though, and things aren’t getting much easier either as they have Kentucky and Auburn to close out their slate.
With John Petty Jr., Alabama is most likely up a spot. Without him, this team comes in at 8. Thankfully, it’s not a bad injury with Petty most likely returning for the SEC Tournament. The Crimson Tide doesn’t look too lost without him either as they still managed to beat South Carolina in their most recent game with Kira Lewis Jr. being the star in that one. This offense continues to rain buckets on opposing defenses, but sadly a team this fun won’t be seeing the NCAA Tournament this year.
9. Texas A&M
The Aggies may be the most surprising 8-8 team I can think of in recent memory. I sold all my stock with this team earlier in the season, yet they are set to finish around the middle of the conference. Texas A&M can be a tough team to compete with, and it was shown when they defeated a hot Mississippi State team two Saturdays ago. They did drop their last two games, but they were playing Kentucky and LSU. I want to see them finish strong.
Georgia has recently played like the team we thought they were going to be through the first half of the season. The Bulldogs have played inspired basketball ever since they beat Auburn, beating Vanderbilt and Arkansas in addition to playing the Gamecocks hard until the very end. This team has not quit on lottery pick Anthony Edwards, and I would love to see them rack up at least one more win before tournament play.
Right when we started feeling good about the Razorbacks after getting Isaiah Joe back, they drop one to Georgia. If only they had a defense as potent as this killer offense. Had they performed just a little better during conference play, we would be talking about a likely tournament team... but nope.
12. Ole Miss
The Rebels got hot for a bit, but they eventually started to turn back to who they really are: a pretty mediocre team who took advantage of a weak non-conference schedule. Ole Miss only has a win versus Vanderbilt to its name in this team’s last five games. The tank finally emptied in what could have been a good story. Once Breein Tyree got a tad cold, his teammates couldn’t take over.
Xavier Pinson continues to be a baller, but like... that’s it. Not a very good or interesting team here.
I still can’t believe they beat LSU.