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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.

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