So much for improved basketball in the Southeastern Conference. A recent downturn in the number of NCAA Tournament bids sent to the SEC’s inbox prompted the league office to this offseason hire specialists to help with both scheduling and the hoops image of the conference. One problem: It takes time to bail water from a sinking ship.
SEC basketball just isn’t very good at the moment and no amount of scheduling or spin can quickly fix that situation.
Last night the SEC picked up a pretty good win with Florida’s takedown of Memphis, sure. But elsewhere Wichita State was beating Alabama (after topping Tennessee on Saturday), Vanderbilt was struggling with Austin Peay, and South Carolina was getting blown out by Manhattan. Hey, the Jaspers are 8-2, but still.
Below are the latest RPI rankings provided by ESPN.com. The network claims that Joe Lunardi and “his team of Bracketologists” have cracked the NCAA’s code and “have replicated the RPI” that they use during the tourney selection process. So how does the SEC stack up? Not well…
|RPI Rank||School||Record||Vs RPI Top 50|
Folks, that’s awful. The tournament bubble typically starts around the 35-40 mark. Which means if the NCAA selection committee were crunching the numbers today, Florida, Missouri and Arkansas would be the only locks from the SEC.
LSU, Kentucky and Ole Miss are all still alive. Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Alabama have a pulse, but the overall weakness of the SEC suggests their wounds are mortal. For the Dores, Vols or Tide to make the NCAA field they’ll need to win out through December and then win no less than 12 league games… probably no less than 13. Either that or win the SEC Tournament.
And the bottom of the league poses real problems for anyone now in the bubble zone. Beat an A&M, State, Auburn or Georgia and it will do absolutely nothing for the ol’ RPI. Lose to one of those teams and it’s an RPI destroyer.
Granted, we’re still in December. One of the 11 SEC squads currently playing catch-up could go on some sort of unforeseen win streak. But when there are more coaches on hot seats than there are RPI top 30 teams, it’s not a good sign for the conference. And Anthony Grant, Cuonzo Martin, Billy Kennedy, Tony Barbee and Mark Fox could all be gone by season’s end.
We’ll update these numbers from week to week, but the current data points to another disappointing Selection Sunday across Dixie.