Here’s a quick breakdown of this weekend’s SEC basketball schedule. More importantly, we’ll also look at what’s riding on each contest…
Ole Miss (18-4, 7-2, RPI 47) at Missouri (16-6, 5-4, RPI 35), 1:00pm ET – Ole Miss would be in the NCAA tourney if it began today. Realistically, Mizzou probably needs this game more. The Tigers struggle on the road and they’re 1-4 vs RPI top 50 teams. This is a chance for a solid win at home.
Arkansas (14-8, 5-4, RPI 83) at Vanderbilt (8-13, 2-7, RPI 157), 1:30pm ET – The Hogs have an outside shot of playing themselves back onto the NCAA bubble. The occasional road win would be nice, but that’s not exactly a highlight of Mike Anderson’s resume. Vandy is down and their postseason hopes are nil right now, so if the Razorbacks are going to steal a game on the road, this is the one to steal.
Auburn (9-13, 3-6, RPI 203) at Kentucky (16-6, 7-2, RPI 44), 4:00pm ET – Auburn’s fate appears to be sealed, but Kentucky is heating up. UK has won eight of its last 10 and four in a row. With the talent on the Wildcats’ roster, a long winning streak is certainly possible. A loss in Rupp to Auburn would be devastating for the Cats’ RPI score and confidence.
Mississippi State (7-14, 2-7, RPI 232) at Florida (18-3, 8-1, RPI 4), 5:00pm ET – Poor Ricky Ray will have to take his undermanned team to Gainesville were a group of smarting Gators will look to bounce back from a midweek loss at Arkansas. If there’s a ray of hope — a “Rick Ray of hope” if you will — for the Bulldogs, it’s the fact that Will Yeguete will be out. UF will have to learn to win without its second-leading rebounder and school starts tomorrow.
Texas A&M (14-8, 4-5, RPI 73) at Georgia (11-11, 5-4, RPI 118), 5:00pm ET – Last night’s win over Missouri was a season-saver for the Aggies. Their RPI suggests there’s still a slim chance of reaching NCAA bubble status. But they’ll have to knock off — on the road — a Georgia team that’s won four games in a row. UGA is playing for the NIT now, it appears, but Mark Fox’s team has shown some toughness in overcoming an ugly 1-4 SEC start.
LSU (13-7, 4-5, RPI 107) at Alabama (13-8, 6-3, RPI 69), 8:00pm ET – Alabama has beaten LSU eight times in a row. Considering LSU’s RPI score, the Tide had better make sure tomorrow’s game is #9. Alabama is barely in the NCAA Tournament bubble zone as it is. A home loss to LSU could be a killer. Johnny Jones’ Bayou Bengals have won three in a row to climb within a game of .500 in league play. Steal a win at Bama and LSU could start thinking NIT.
Tennessee (11-10, 3-6, RPI 105) at South Carolina (12-10, 2-7, RPI 196), 1:00pm ET – Blech. Carolina’s lost three in a row; Tennessee’s dropped back-to-back games including a home loss to Georgia. The Cocks are shorthanded due to roster woes. The Vols are shorthanded due to key injuries. Neither team has much hope of anything other than an NIT bid and even those hopes are fading.