There are 20 more days to go in December and that gives the SEC almost three weeks to improve its NCAA Tournament portfolio. Obviously, the league will need to avoid RPI-crushing losses to teams ranked below 75, below 100 or worse. The league will also need to string together more evenings like Tuesday when Florida downed Kansas and Kentucky stuffed Boise State.
Winning in December will give the league higher hopes for a higher number of tourney bids come March.
So which games still loom large as not-quite-but-almost-must-wins? Below are the SEC’s remaining games against non-conference teams ranked in the RPI top 75. The league needs to check as many squads off this list as possible:
Alabama: Wichita State (13), at UCLA (33)
Arkansas: No top 75 games remaining
Auburn: No top 75 games remaining
Florida: at Memphis (17), Richmond (70)
Georgia: at Colorado (5), at George Washington (43)
Kentucky: at North Carolina (19), Belmont (21)
LSU: UAB (59)
Miss. State: No top 75 games remaining
Missouri: Illinois (46)
Ole Miss: Mercer (65), Dayton (41)
S. Carolina: at St. Mary’s (9), Akron (44)
Tennessee: at Wichita State (13), Virginia (40)
Texas A&M: Oklahoma (36)
Vanderbilt: St. Louis (45)
How the SEC performs in those 18 games will loom large at tourney selection time… as will any December losses to teams outside that group.