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There’s No Room For Crying Across The SEC Today

crying-baby-boyThere should be no crying in the land of popped bubbles today.  No whining should emanate from Dixie.  The NCAA’s selection committee made its choices yesterday and 11 of the SEC’s 14 teams simply didn’t deserve to go dancing this year.

Alabama ended its season at 20-12 with an RPI of 60 and a strength of schedule of 76 (non-conference of 84).  Worse, the Tide was 0-6 against RPI top 50 teams and had three losses outside the top 100… plus another outside the top 200.  If Anthony Grant’s team wanted in, it needed more than a win over Tennessee in Nashville (as we told you on Friday).  UA needed to take down Florida but it didn’t/couldn’t.

Kentucky had a slightly better record at 21-11, but it’s RPI was 57.  It’s strength of schedule was 70.  It’s non-conference SOS was 73.  While the Cats did manage three top 50 RPI wins, they also suffered three sub-100 losses.  But the real undoing of John Calipari’s fourth squad was the season-ending knee injury to Nerlens Noel back on February 12th.  Needing to prove that they could thrive without their big man, UK instead went 4-4 down the stretch.  That includes three losses in the Wildcats’ last four games, all to teams with RPI of 95 or worse.

Tennessee had a bubble-worthy resume, but there should be no complaining from the Volunteer State.  Good enough for the conversation?  Yes.  Definitely better than some other teams who landed at-large bids?  Hardly.  UT’s strength of schedule was 58 and its RPI 59.  It’s non-conference SOS was a solid 47.  Tennessee was 3-5 against top 50 RPI foes.  All pretty good.  But the Vols had a pair of sub-100 losses.  Those twin losses to Georgia (RPI 140) and an annual SEC Tournament flop — this time against Alabama — sealed the Vols’ fate.  UT surely had its chances.  Even going back to November the Vols went three-of-11 from the foul line against Georgetown in a 37-36 loss.  Hit two more free throws and beat the Hoyas (RPI 11 and a #2 seed in the tourney) and the Vols might have made the field.  In the end, UT left too much fruit hanging on the tree.

As for Arkansas and LSU not making the NIT field, well, that’s just further proof that the NIT has improved since the NCAA has taken it over.  Still a bracket for also-rans, the NIT is now forced to take those teams who won their conference’s regular season title only to be upset in their conference tourney.  That’s a good thing for the little guy.  It’s a bad thing for all the middle-of-the-road, big conference teams that used to fill the field.

The Razorbacks won one game – one — outside their home state this year and that victory came at Auburn (RPI 252).  The Hogs were 3-6 against top 50 RPI foes and had a whopping four losses outside the top 100.  There should be no whining in the Natural State.

LSU lost three of its last five games with its two wins coming over Texas A&M (RPI 101) and Georgia (RPI 140).  The Tigers were a measly 1-6 against RPI top 50 teams and had two losses outside the RPI top 200.

The Southeastern Conference was supposed to be improved on the hardwood this year.  It was not.  Missouri earned a tourney bid, but they were hardly the top 10 team they were expected by many to be.  They couldn’t close out games away from home.  At all.

Ole Miss put together its best season ever with 26 wins and an SEC Tournament championship (to finally get people off Andy Kennedy’s back).  But the Rebels’ schedule was so weak (120) and its non-conference SOS so bad (280), that UM might not have made the field had it not cut down the nets in Nashville.  (And, no, we don’t buy what the selection committee sells post-bracket-reveal each season because their logic changes from season to season.)

The Southeastern Conference was littered with disappointments this season: Kentucky wasn’t a top five team even before Noel’s injury.  Tennessee was hurt by the loss of Jeronne Maymon for the season.  Arkansas was talking NCAA tourney before the season.  So was Alabama.  Auburn was far worse than expected.  Mississippi State was abysmal, though Rick Ray had to deal with injuries, suspensions, and a roster thinner than a dime.  South Carolina was as awful as predicted.  Georgia was down, then up for a bit, then back down.  Texas A&M started hot only to fall apart.  Vanderbilt got better as the year went on but there was really nowhere to go but up after the Commodores’ horrible start.

Think of it another way — What coaches deserve a slap on the back for the work they did this year?  Kennedy in Oxford.  Billy Donovan at Florida.  Johnny Jones at LSU.

Did anyone else live up to or exceed expectations?

No.  So there should be no weeping over burst bubbles in SEC territory today.  The league got what it deserved — three bids to the Big Dance.  No more.

 


10 comments
Holtbru
Holtbru

First thing Auburn could do for itself would be to get a NEW AD !!!!

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

Arkansas (and probably LSU) deserved NIT bids. This is not an issue for debate. There is no question.

 

Here's your eye test. "Eye" a comparison of St John's (NIT 5-seed) and Arkansas' resume:

 

Team          Record (Conf)      RPI      vs50   vs100    vs150+    Road  Best W    Worst L

Arkansas       19-13 (10-8)      88       3-6     7-10      9-1             1-9       #9        #224

St John's       16-15 (8-10)      93       3-7     5-11      8-2             4-7       #36       #215

 

Looking at the resume, my question is that if next year Arkansas goes 8-24 (and 8-3 on the road), will they be a 4-seed or a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament? That's where it appears they should be with the way the criteria is currently weighted.

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

March Madness is making basketball a tough proposition for middle-tier BCS schools. At this point, being Maryland, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, or Washington has proven to be a disadvantage relative to schools like Butler, Creighton, VCU, UNLV and Gonzaga. Doug McDermott would not be a 4 year automatic ticket to the NCAA tournament in Knoxville or Tuscaloosa. He is at a small school in Omaha. Sorry - that ain't right.

 

Everyone knows the rules, so you're right - no complaining about the lack of bids. Complaining about the system, however, is fine. Blow it up.

Robert Spurlock
Robert Spurlock

As a Tennessee fan, I freely admit that you hit the nail squarely with your analysis of them. They "left too much fruit hanging on the tree." If they had simply handled the Georges, they would have been a solid tournament team. That is to say, had they beat Georgetown and won either or both of the Georgia games, they would have been fine. As a matter of fact, winning both Georgia games might well have landed them a higher seed in the SEC Tourney. There were a few other close losses that could have helped, had they been wins. Having said that, I hope the Vols don't sleep through the NIT. I enjoy reading this site. Always great information here.

RoadTrip
RoadTrip

Too tied up in manipulated stats to see it for what it is IMO. Simply look at St. Mary's schedule/results. Go ahead and explain how they had a higher rating and try to keep from laughing. Five Mountain West teams in?! Please. 

 

It explains what UT should do today - right now. Schedule mid-major and lower on the road and then go win 90% of them. Make most of them real cupcakes like those other bubble schools play every game in their conferences and OOC's. Schedule only a few better OOC's with as many of them at home as possible. Then win 12+ in the SEC. Then tell Slive he no longer has any authority over basketball in the SEC and hire a separate leader. Someone who has the guts to tell the officials to call the games according to the rules of the game or be publicly fired. 

 

The last point applied to all of the games I watched for all of the SEC schools. Example: I spotted a half dozen obvious hacks on layups within the last 2 minutes of several games where no fouls were called and the shots were missed. Who are they kidding? Two handed shoves under the boards on dozens of occasions never called. Whatever they think they are accomplishing in Sliveville ain't happening in basketball. The SEC and PAC are the current laughingstocks of college BB because they do nothing to change it and let the power shift to the little guys. Guess Slive's too focused on his SEC network project.  

Statesman
Statesman

MrSec........News flash!!!   Mizzou made the tournament.  If anyone(including you) predicted a team that returned 1 player from last years's entire roster to be a top 10 team, they were delusional.  Even UK's champions & Final Four returned 3-4 role players to supplement the 1 & Dones.  Mizzou is in,(although playing Louisville in Lexington insures an early exit).

 

 SEC basketball has 3 issues:

1) the Horrible losses in November & December.  The coaches need to prepare their teams just as the other major conferences to beat the early season cupcakes.  In the SEC it appears folks are still celebrating football

2) Officiating......the inconsistent officiating hurts the teams and chances to make tournaments.  The home team has a decided advantage not because teams cant play on the road,but because the officials call 2 different games,one for the vistors and one favoring the home team.  This exist across the board throughout the SEC.

3) In conference Schedule- It lacks rhyme or reason.  If football can be broken into 2 leagues then why can't basketball.  At least have thedivisions play round robin against each other.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Statesman 

 

Missouri was ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll and they were ranked #7 in December.  They ended their season 8-6 over their last 14 games.  

 

SEC media members picked Missouri to finish in third place in the SEC (with one first-place vote).  Missouri wound up seeded sixth in the SEC Tournament.  

 

Guess a lot of people were delusional.

 

John

Statesman
Statesman

 @John at MrSEC

 

"Guess a lot of people were delusional".........That happens all the time.  Most folks have the herd mentality, even if it means being wrong.   Pressey is the only player on the team, with 5 transfers and Bowers(out last season) comprise the 8-man rotation.  No other team other than UK can say the same.  The conference underachieved, but  Mizzou did their part.

CowbellCruiser
CowbellCruiser

Considering Rick Ray was expected (before he was down to 6 scholarship players) to finish last and with 4 or 5 wins, yes, there are other coaches who deserve a pat on the back for what they did.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @CowbellCruiser 

 

Rick Ray had reasons for his troubles -- as did Frank Martin.  Stated that in the piece.  But MSU did not exceed expectations.  The Bulldogs were picked for last place.  The finished one game out of last place.

 

That's no knock on Ray who inherited a mess, but I don't think he exceeded expectations.

 

John

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