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Thursday, February 28, 2008

SEC Teams and the NCAA Tournament - Round 2

Another disastrous road loss by the Hogs last night to Alabama has them sitting squarely on the bubble. Right now Arkansas is 18-9 overall, 7-6 in SEC play, 6-6 in their last 12 games, and a woeful 2-6 in true road games. Onto the SEC breakdown:

SEC East
1. Tennessee (11-2, 25-3, RPI 1)
2. Kentucky (10-3, 16-10, RPI 60)
3. Vanderbilt (9-4, 24-4, RPI 7)
4. Florida (8-5, 21-7, RPI 51)
5. South Carolina (4-9, 12-15, RPI 147)
6. Georgia (3-10, 11-14, RPI 139)

SEC West
1. Mississippi State (10-3, 19-8, RPI 41)
2. Arkansas (7-6, 18-9, RPI 45)
3. Alabama (4-9, 15-13, RPI 123)
4. Auburn (4-9, 14-12, RPI 127)
5. LSU (4-9, 11-16, RPI 164)
6. Ole Miss (4-9, 18-9, RPI 48)

Tennessee - The Vols won at Memphis and lost at Vanderbilt this week. Tennessee is ranked No. 1 until the polls come out next Monday, and they are still No. 1 in the RPI. Tennessee's lead in the SEC East and overall standings has been trimmed to one game over Kentucky and Mississippi State. Tennessee should lock up a No. 1 seed if they can win the SEC regular season title with wins against Kentucky, Florida, and South Carolina. Depending on how the other teams vying for a no. 1 seed do down the stretch, Tennessee may need to win the SEC Tournament as well for a chance at the overall no. 1 seed. Tennessee is a stellar 11-3 in road/neutral court games, 3-2 against the RPI Top 25, and 9-2 against the RPI Top 50.

Vanderbilt - Vandy's win over Tennessee makes them a lock for the NCAA Tournament, and they can claim a top four seed if they finish strong. The Commodores are No. 7 in the RPI, and have quality wins against Tenn., S. Alabama, UMass, Wake Forest, Ga. Tech, Ky, and Florida. Vandy's road/neutral court record is a respectable 6-4.

Mississippi State - MSU moves into the lock category on the Razorpod Blog. The Bulldogs clinched at least a share of the West Division Title with their win over Auburn last night. If MSU can finish strong, they have a shot at a share of the SEC overall title. Their road/neutral court record is 8-5 with a 5-3 record in true road games, and they are also 9-3 in their last 12 games. The Bulldogs so-so non-conference record may prevent them from getting a high seed as well as their 2-7 record against the RPI Top 50.

Should Be In
Nobody is in this category

Work Left To Do
Arkansas - Arkansas has gone from playing for seeding to the outside of the bubble by losing 4 of their last 5 games (all four losses were on the road). The Hogs have a huge opportunity to right the ship with Vanderbilt coming to Fayetteville on Saturday. Arkansas' RPI is an okay 45, and they own quality wins over Baylor, Mississippi State, VCU, and Florida. The road/neutral court record is 5-8 with a pathetic 2-6 record in true road games. Losses to South Carolina, Georgia, and Appalachian State also hurt. The Hogs can slide comfortably back inside the bubble by winning their final three regular season games - Vandy, at Ole Miss, and Auburn.

Florida - The Gators are 8-5 in SEC play and 21-7 overall. However, they only have one marquee win - a home win over Vanderbilt. They are 1-5 against the RPI Top 50. However, Florida can secure a berth if they can win 2 of their final 3 against Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Kentucky. MSU and TN will be home games, while the Gators can sweep the season series if they can get a win at Kentucky. If Florida loses 2 of 3, it may take a couple of solid wins in the SEC Tournament to get them back into the NCAA Tournament picture.

Kentucky - Kentucky is coming on strong down the stretch. Two more wins this week put the Wildcats at 10-3 in the SEC with a chance to win the regular season title if they can upset Tennessee in Knoxville on Sunday. Once considered a longshot just to get onto the bubble, Kentucky can stake its claim to an at-large bid with 2 more regular season wins. Their RPI has climbed to 60, and they are 4-5 against the RPI Top 50. Kentucky's margin of error still remains razor thin, however. A loss at Tennessee coupled with another loss either at South Carolina or home against Florida could leave the Wildcats in need of an SEC Tournament Title to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Ole Miss - At 4-9 in SEC play, the Rebels have pretty much squandered their 14-0 start. It's hard to imagine a team receiving an at-large berth with a losing conference record this year as the SEC is perceived to be a little down when compared to the other BCS conferences. However, Ole Miss can at least give the committee something to think about if they can manage to win out against a relatively easy schedule. Alabama and Arkansas visit the Tad Pad, and the only road game left is against East cellar-dweller, Georgia.

Automatic Bid Only - South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SEC Update

Arkansas got just what they needed after two tough losses on the road - a home date with last place LSU. Sparked by some torrid outside shooting in the 1st half, the Hogs went on a 21-0 run to take a 23 point lead into halftime. The second half was all for show as Arkansas improved to 18-7 overall and 7-4 in the SEC with a 87-61 win.

Other SEC Games:
Ole Miss over Mississippi State
Florida over South Carolina
Tennessee over Auburn

Updated Standings:
SEC West
1. Mississippi State 8-3
2. Arkansas 7-4
3. Ole Miss 4-7
4. Alabama 3-8
5. Auburn 3-8
6. LSU 2-9

SEC East
1. Tennessee 11-1
2. Kentucky 8-3
3. Vanderbilt 7-4
4. Florida 7-5
5. South Carolina 4-7
6. Georgia 3-8

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

SEC Teams and the NCAA Tournament

With the NCAA Tournament just one month away, the Razorpod Blog will attempt to keep you informed of which SEC teams will make the Big Dance. First, a look at the SEC standings with each teams RPI.

SEC East
1. Tennessee (23-2, 10-1, #1)
2. Kentucky (14-10, 8-3, #69)
3. Vanderbilt (22-4, 7-4, #10)
4. Florida (19-7, 6-5, #58)
5. South Carolina (12-12, 4-6, #116)
6. Georgia (11-12, 3-8, #131)

SEC West
1. Mississippi State (17-7, 8-2, #43)
2. Arkansas (17-7, 6-4, #32)
3. Ole Miss (17-7, 3-7, #47)
4. Auburn (13-10, 3-7, #147)
5. Alabama (14-12, 3-8, #124)
6. LSU (8-15, 2-8, #185)

Taking a cue from's weekly watch, the Razorpod Blog will put SEC teams into the following categories - locks, should be in, work to do, and better win the SEC Tournament and snag that automatic bid.

Locks - Tennessee and Vanderbilt
Should Be In - Mississippi State
Work Left to Do - Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky
Automatic Bid Only - Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, LSU

Tennessee is 23-2, 10-1 in SEC play. The Vols are the class of the SEC, and if they finish 4-1 in SEC play they'll win their first outright SEC Title in 41 years. I'm assuming that MSU will not run the table and finish 14-2 in league play, since the Bulldogs play 4 of their final 6 on the road. Tennessee can get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they beat Memphis Saturday night and win the SEC regular season title. Even if the Vols lose at Memphis, they can still garner a No. 1 seed by winning the rest of their regular season games and winning the SEC Tournament.

Vanderbilt is a lock with a 22-4 record and No. 10 ranking in the RPI. With just a little help, the Commodores should slide up to No. 2 in the SEC East and get a first round bye in the SEC Tourney.

Mississippi State should win the West as they have a two game lead on Arkansas with six games left to play. However, the Bulldogs hopes of a high seed could take a hit with games at Ole Miss, at South Carolina, at Florida, and at Vanderbilt. MSU's rough start could (5-5 non-conference) cost them as well.

Arkansas is in the best position of those teams that still have some work left to do. The Hogs are 17-7, 6-4 in SEC play. With three home games remaining, Arkansas should secure a bid by winning those games. However, a slip up at home will cause some concern if the Hogs losing road ways continue. Arkansas can all but secure a berth with two wins this week. A home victory over LSU followed by a road win over Kentucky would most likely secure a 10 win SEC season and NCAA bid. Watch out for a home date with Vanderbilt.

Florida is in a precarious position after 3 losses in their last four games. The Gators are only 1-5 against the RPI Top 50, and they still have games remaining against MSU, Tennessee, and Kentucky. An 8-8 SEC record coupled with a weak non-conference schedule would leave the two-time defending national champions in the NIT.

Ole Miss has squandered its 13-0 start by collapsing in SEC play. The Rebels are 3-7 in the SEC, and a loss at home against MSU tonight would be a crippling blow to their NCAA chances. Ole Miss also has road games left against Kentucky, LSU, and Georgia as well as a home game against Arkansas. Andy Kennedy's team is staring at a 6-10 league record or worse. No NCAA bid will be forthcoming in that instance.

Kentucky provides the most interesting case. Billy Gillispie's first team was 6-7 in non-conference play with horrendous home losses to Gardner-Webb and San Diego. The Wildcats and the Big Blue faithful were left for dead when SEC play started. However, Kentucky is now 8-3 in the SEC, their RPI is starting to become respectable, and they should get to 10 or 11 SEC wins with the only likely loss being at Tennessee. Wins at home against Arkansas, Florida, and Ole Miss along with a road win at South Carolina is all that stands between them and a 12-4 SEC record. No team has been left out of the NCAA Tournament with 10 or more conference wins.

The Razorpod Blog will back with this feature every week between now and the tournament. Please leave your comments and thoughts on the NCAA Tournament prospects of SEC Teams.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Great Week

It was a good week to be a Hog basketball fan. A twenty point win over nationally ranked and West leading Mississippi State was followed by a 19 point domination of nationally ranked Florida. The Hogs increased defensive intensity and commitment to rebounding have keyed the surge. While the offense can still look questionable at times, Sonny Weems is growing into his go to player roll. If his hot shooting continues, look for Beverley to continue to benefit, as well as the big men, from a more spread out opponent's defense.

Now, it's Ole Miss. A team at the beginning of the conference slate that looked 15 points better than the Hogs. They're on the decline, dropping a game at home to USC on Saturday (sound familiar?). But they always play the Hogs tougher than most anyone, and another blow out would be surprise. The open Wednesday comes at a good time. Hopefully, Pel can bring the team back down to earth and get them ready for what will be a physical game on Saturday.