They’re the bell cows of the Southeastern Conference this year — as expected — but the rest of the league’s cattle just aren’t following. Not closely anyway. Not yet.
Using RealTimeRPI.com — who we’ve used for years and who have helped us predict the correct number of SEC teams in the NCAA Tourney field numerous times — it’s clear that right now, UF and UK are the only Big Dance locks from the Southeastern Conference. So much for nixing divisions and strengthening schedules. As of yet, the league’s attempts to improve itself haven’t brought about the desired result.
Below we provide you with each SEC squad’s abbreviated tourney resume to date. But be warned. The results aren’t pretty.
|RPI Rank||School||SOS Rank||SEC Rec.||Overall Rec.||Top 50 RPI Rec.||Sub-100 RPI L||Rem. Gms Vs Top 50 RPI|
Alright, let’s start this breakdown with some help from Monty Python…
While some of these schools may believe they have some NCAA tourney life left, they’re pretty much already pushing up daisies: Georgia, Auburn, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Texas A&M, and South Carolina. To reach the tourney from outside the RPI top 100 requires a conference tournament victory. Good luck in Atlanta, folks. The holes these teams have dug for themselves are just too deep. It would be a miraculous turnaround — we’re talking Lazarus here — to see one of these teams land an at-large bid.
Moving up the chart, Arkansas hasn’t helped its cause with an 0-2 start in conference play. Tonight they host Kentucky in what’s basically a must-win game for the Hogs. Win it and they’ll have three top 50 RPI wins (good) and hope of reviving their NCAA chances. But they will only have three more games against teams currently ranked in the top 50 after tonight. Gotta make tonight count, Razorbacks.
Ole Miss and LSU are very similar. At #69 and #80 in the RPI, the Tigers and Rebels face steep climbs to get back onto the NCAA bubble. On the plus side, both squads have four games remaining against top 50 foes, so there are opportunities. On the downside, both teams are winless versus top 50 competition so far. Strength of schedule isn’t working in either team’s favor, either. LSU travels to Oxford tomorrow. It will be the only meeting of the two old rivals this year (thanks to the SEC’s ridiculously horrible scheduling format). Tomorrow’s winner will put a serious hurtin’ on the other squad’s tourney chances.
Tennessee has been a major disappointment — two losses to teams outside the top 100? — but the Vols might have the best shot at resuscitating their NCAA dreams. They’re currently #57 in the RPI which is typically life-support zone for at-large teams. But UT still has a full five games remaining against top 50 foes. They also have a strength-of-schedule rank of 29 (good) and a 2-2 record versus RPI top 50 competition (not bad). But if the tourney were selected today, the Vols would be a bubble team at best. They have a lot of work to do.
Missouri’s #49 RPI is bubblicious, too. Worse, the Tigers’ strength of schedule is sub-100 and they have just two games remaining against top 50 competition: Kentucky at home and Florida on the road in back-to-back games at the first of next month. The Tigers and Vols will face each other twice over the coming weeks. Duking it out for an NCAA bid, pay close attention to those games. If one team can pull a sweep over the other, it will definitely give its resume a boost and — possibly — knock a bubble rival off said bubble.