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Taking Care Of Business: Breaking Down The SEC East Race

The East is a beast and the West is a mess.  Such is the state of SEC basketball in 2011.  For that reason, we’ll take a closer look here at the East Division only.  (Handicapping the West seems unfair as that division is handicapped enough as is.)

Last night’s win by Florida in Athens was the second road game the Gators have stolen from an East rival this year.  First Tennessee, then Georgia, both in overtime… which says something for the Gators’ maturity. 

For an up-and-down team, Billy Donovan’s squad seems to have hit a prolonged up.  It looks like they’re in the driver’s seat in the East Division.  But are they really?  Here are the current division standings:


School
Overall Record
SEC Record
Games Back
Florida
16-4
5-1

Kentucky
15-4
3-2
1.5
South Carolina
12-6
3-2
1.5
Vanderbilt
14-4
2-2
2.0
Tennessee
12-7
2-2
2.0
Georgia
14-5
3-3
2.0



Now let’s look at each squad’s remaining games:

Florida 5-1
SEC Games Remaining: 10
Against SEC West: 3
Home Games: 5

Kentucky 3-2
SEC Games Remaining: 11
Against SEC West: 3
Home Games: 6

South Carolina 3-2
SEC Games Remaining: 11
Against SEC West: 4
Home Games: 5

Vanderbilt 2-2
SEC Games Remaining: 12
Against SEC West: 5
Home Games: 6

Tennessee 2-2
SEC Games Remaining: 12
Against SEC West: 5
Home Games: 6

Georgia 3-3
SEC Games Remaining: 10
Against SEC West: 4
Home Games: 4


Tennessee and Vanderbilt still have five West teams remaining on their schedules.  That’s a big plus.  Kentucky and Florida only have three games each remaining with West foes.  And that’s a minus.

To break things down further, let’s take a closer look at the games against the West and the remaining home games for each East Division team.  Any East team hoping to win the division title in 2011 needs to avoid losses to the weaker teams from the West.  Also, any team aiming for the division crown can’t afford to lose at home to their East Division rivals.  Consider those two areas to be a simple matter of “taking care of business” or “TCB” as Elvis would have said. 

The East championship will be decided by those two factors:

1.  Who slips up against the West?

2.  Who slips up at home against East foes?

If we count each team’s remaining West Division games as victories, the standings board looks like this:


School SEC Record (+ West wins)
Games Back
Florida
8-1

South Carolina
7-2
1.0
Tennessee
7-2
1.0
Vanderbilt
7-2
1.0
Georgia
7-3
1.5
Kentucky
6-2
1.5



Now let’s go ahead and hand out wins for each SEC East game a team has remaining in its own gym, too.

East vs East home games remaining:

Florida (4) — Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia

Kentucky (5)
– Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt

South Carolina (3)
— Florida, Georgia, Tennessee

Vanderbilt (4)
— South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida

Tennessee (3)
— South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky

Georgia (2)
— Vanderbilt, South Carolina


Clearly, Kentucky holds an advantage in this area as all five of its home games against East foes still lay ahead.  South Carolina and Tennessee have already played two East opponents at home and each lost one of those games.  That hurts.  But Georgia is in real trouble in this area.  The Bulldogs have just two more East Division games at home this year… and they’ve already lost two of the three East home games they’ve played.

Let’s go ahead and count each team’s East Division home games as victories and look at the updated standings:


School
SEC Record (+ West Wins, Home Wins)
Games Back
Florida
12-1

Kentucky
11-2
1.0
Vanderbilt
11-2
1.0
South Carolina
10-2
1.5
Tennessee
10-2
1.5
Georgia
9-3
2.5



So what does all this tell us?  It tells us that based on the games already played plus the remaining games versus the West and the remaining games at home versus East foes…  Florida is in the driver’s seat in the SEC East.  Kentucky and Vanderbilt are just a game back — waiting for a Gator slip-up — if they handle matters as they should.

The climb is a bit more steep for South Carolina and Tennessee.  And Georgia — having lost two East battles at home already — will have to do some serious road work to capture the division title this season.

If you’re a betting man, you might want to drop a couple of bucks on the Gators in the East.  The remaining schedule is setting up pretty nicely for Donovan’s crew.

 


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  1. [...] John Pennington of Mr. SEC: “The East is a beast and the West is a mess. Such is the state of SEC basketball in 2011. For that reason, we’ll take a closer look here at the East Division only. (Handicapping the West seems unfair as that division is handicapped enough as is.) Tuesday night’s win by Florida in Athens was the second road game the Gators have stolen from an East rival this year. First Tennessee, then Georgia, both in overtime… which says something for the Gators’ maturity.” [...]

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