There are 10 days remaining in the SEC’s regular season. Each team has three games left on its schedule. And a league expected to land five teams in the NCAA Tournament this year could land as few as three… if the dominoes fall in the wrong direction.
Heading into an important weekend of action, below is a look at the current tournament resumes for all 12 schools in the SEC. As we’ve noted on many occasions, recognizing NCAA Tournament teams is really just a matter of understanding the math. Bracketologists like Joe Lunardi don’t predict the field with 95% accuracy each year by getting into the minds of the selection committee members. They do it by understanding what the committee usually looks for in a team:
* An RPI of 67 or higher — In the last five years no team higher than RPI 67 has received an at-large bid
* A good strength of schedule
* Quality road wins over Top 50 and Top 100 RPI teams
Included in our chart is each team’s current overall record vs Division I opponents. (NCAA officials say conference record means little and you can ask Alabama about their 12-4 mark in the SEC last year for proof.) We also include the RPI and SOS numbers mentioned above. We show you each squad’s record against the Top 50 and Top 100 RPI. We show you each team’s quality road wins vs Top 100 RPI teams. But we do not list a team’s record in its last 10 games… a statistic that selection committee members says is not on their computer screens on Selection Sunday (again, ask last year’s Alabama squad how much hot finishes matter). We also show each team’s remaining schedule (home games in ALL CAPS). The schools are listed in alphabetical order:
|RPI||School||D-I Record||SOS||vs Top 50||vs Top 100||Road W vs Top 100||Schedule||Tourney Status|
|31||Alabama||18-9||15||2-5||9-8||1||MSU, AUB, um||NCAA Probable|
|95||Arkansas||17-11||63||2-5||4-8||0||aub, UM, msu||NIT Bubble|
|128||Auburn||14-13||78||1-7||3-12||0||ARK, ala, LSU||None|
|17||Florida||22-6||51||3-3||8-5||3||uga, vu, UK||NCAA Lock|
|119||Georgia||12-15||19||1-6||5-12||1||UF, uk, USC||None|
|4||Kentucky||27-1||47||6-1||13-1||4||VU, UGA, uf||NCAA Lock|
|62||LSU||17-10||59||2-6||5-8||0||um, UT, aub||NCAA Bubble|
|63||Miss. State||19-9||67||3-3||7-7||1||ala, usc, ARK||NCAA Bubble|
|71||Ole Miss||15-12||36||0-7||4-11||0||LSU, ark, ALA||NIT Bubble|
|177||S. Carolina||10-17||40||1-8||1-12||0||UT, MSU, uga||None|
|100||Tennessee||14-13||31||3-7||5-9||1||usc, lsu, VU||NIT Bubble|
|24||Vanderbilt||20-8||11||4-3||10-7||4||uk, UF, ut||NCAA Lock|
As you can see, the numbers suggest that Kentucky, Florida and Vanderbilt fit the traditional profile of an NCAA Tournament team. We consider them to be locks. Alabama — at this point — also appears to be probable for an at-large bid. The Tide have a good RPI and the 15th best strength of schedule in the nation. A win against Mississippi State on Saturday could move Bama into “lock” status.
For MSU, Saturday’s game is enormous. Their SOS will get a boost from playing the Tide. A win would not only help their RPI but it would provide them with a second quality road win. It’s so big — and State’s current numbers are so sketchy — that you can actually chalk up Saturday’s game as a must win for the Bulldogs.
LSU has also played itself onto the tournament bubble and the Tigers can’t afford a slip-up now. They desperately need to win at Ole Miss on Saturday to lock up at least one quality road win for the season. There’s a chance Tennessee could finish with a Top 100 RPI, so beating the Vols could help the Tigers in that category as well.
Of the three SEC squads on the NIT bubble, Arkansas has the better overall record, but Ole Miss and Tennessee have better numbers in most other categories. Remember though that the NIT committee — while using the same data as the NCAA selection committee — is comprised of former NCAA coaches. They have a tendency to rely more on the eye test. Also, schools with big arenas and good attendance numbers stand an advantage because the NIT thrives on gate revenue. Advantage: Arkansas and Tennessee.