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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Five-Star Jefferson ‘Giving Everyone A Chance’

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxCeCe Jefferson has more college options than he can count.

The defensive tackle from Baker County High School in Glen St. Mary, Fla., holds offer from schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Florida State, Ohio State and Southern California. That’s just the start of it.

The amount of interest Jefferson is receiving is the reason he plans to keep his options open and wait until national signing day to announce his decision.

“I am still fairly even and that is why I decided to make my commitment on national signing day and don’t have a top five or anything,” Jefferson told “I am just giving everyone a chance to prove to me why I should go to their school. The more visits I take the better I will know what I like and don’t like.”

Jefferson, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle by Rivals, has already begun taking unofficial visits. He has recently taken trips to Florida, Florida State and Georgia.

Jefferson’s visit to Florida last weekend came with a similar message from the Gators’ staff: he is a top priority in the 2015 class.

“They made it real sure they let me know that Florida is going to be coming at me hardest,” Jefferson said. “They said to keep a lookout for them because they are going to come to one or two of my football games and I better get used to them because they are going to recruit me to the end.”

So will Georgia. New Bulldogs defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has developed a strong relationship with Jefferson dating back to Pruitt’s previous stop at Florida State. Jefferson visited Georgia’s campus for the first time earlier this month.

“It was my first time up there and they set the bar real high,” Jefferson said. “I talked with coach Pruitt about his change from Florida State to Georgia and obviously he saw something in their program that made him want to go.

“They showed me a real good time and a lot of great facilities and Coach (Mark) Richt is a real good guy. I wouldn’t mind playing for Georgia.”

Other schools are just hoping to remain in the mix as they try to improve their standing with Jefferson, who doesn’t claim a ranking of any of the schools he’s considering.

Jefferson told Rivals he plans to visit Alabama, Auburn, LSU and North Carolina during the spring. That will only be the start of it.


Livington likes the Wildcats

Kentucky continues to make a favorable impression on offensive/defensive lineman Levon Livingston from Ballou High School in Washington, D.C.

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Can Anyone Upset Florida In The SEC Tourney? Sure… But Will They?

crystal-ball2The SEC Tournament gets underway tonight in Atlanta.  If history is any indicator of who’ll win, put your money on Kentucky’s second-seeded Wildcats.  UK has snagged 15 of the 35 championship trophies since the tourney was resurrected in 1979.  Alabama has won five in that period which is good for second-best in the league.

Over the last 10 years, Kentucky (2004, 2010 and 2011) and Florida (2005, 2006 and 2007) have each won the SEC Tournament three times.  Georgia (through a tornado in 2008), Mississippi State (2009), Vanderbilt (2012) and Ole Miss (last year) have also cut down the nets.

But who’ll win the tourney this week?  Below is our game-by-game preview, sure to be completely, 100% incorrect…


Game One

12 Auburn vs 13 South Carolina:  The Tigers won by 16 over the Gamecocks at Auburn just a couple of weeks ago.  Both teams have won two of their last six games.  In what may well be the tournament’s least-interesting contest, we’ll take Auburn.


Game Two

11 Vanderbilt vs 14 Mississippi State:  MSU was the worst team in the league this year with a 3-15 conference mark.  While Vandy’s bench isn’t very long, Kevin Stallings has somehow managed to coax seven league wins out of his outmanned squad.  VU beat State by six in early-February in Nashville.  We’ll take Vanderbilt again.


Game Three

8 Missouri vs 9 Texas A&M:  Two old Big XII rivals square off for the right to face #1 seed Florida.  Missouri, as we noted earlier this week, still has an outside shot at an NCAA at-large bid.  But the Tigers have lost three of their last five and held off A&M by a lone point at home one week ago today.  The Aggies have lost three of their last four.  We’ll take Missouri to reach the quarterfinals.


Game Four

12 Auburn vs 5 Arkansas:  The Razorbacks, coming off a bye, will be fighting for their NCAA lives.  They whipped Auburn 86-67 in their regular-season matchup.  Take Arkansas into the quarterfinals as we see not reason to suspect a major Tiger upset.


Game Five

10 Alabama vs 7 LSU:  The Crimson Tide knocked off LSU by two points in Tuscaloosa back in late-January.  Both teams are up-and-down.  Bama’s last six games looked like this: L-W-L-W-L-W.  LSU’s last seven games looked like this: L-W-L-W-L-W-L.  This one’s a toss-up in our minds, but we’ll back Johnny O’Bryant and the Tigers.  Take LSU.


Game Six

11 Vanderbilt vs 6 Ole Miss:  The Rebels like to speed things up.  The Commodores are more deliberate.  In tourney play, the advantage often goes to the team that can force their foe out of their natural rhythm and tempo.  Vandy’s lack of depth could hurt it over a four- or five-day run, but we think they’ll have enough juice on Day Two of the tourney to pull the upset.  We’ll take Vanderbilt in a surprise, despite the fact that Ole Miss beat the Dores twice during the regular season.  For the record, UM has lost six of its last eight games and VU has lost seven of its last nine.  Neither team comes in hot.


Game Seven

8 Missouri vs 1 Florida:  Crazy things happen in tournament play, but Florida is just so darned experienced and tough on the defensive end that it’ll be very hard to pick against them.  Mizzou has lost five in a row away from home, including a 10-point loss at Gainesville in early-February.  Take Florida into the semifinals, leaving Missouri squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.


Game Eight

5 Arkansas vs 4 Tennessee:  This one might be an NCAA Tournament play-in game.  UA won six of its last seven games.  UT has won four in a row including its last three by 27 points or more (against Vandy, Auburn and Missouri).  The host Volunteers knocked off Arkansas by seven back in January.  Once again, this matchup features one team that plays at a break-neck pace and one that’s slow and deliberate.  We’ll tab Tennessee to reach the league semis behind Jarnell Stokes’ big body.


Game Nine

7 LSU vs 2 Kentucky:  Now is the time for the Wildcats to make amends for a disappointing regular season, right?  Wrong.  LSU is clearly a bad matchup for John Calipari’s Cats.  The Tigers beat UK in Baton Rouge and then lost by one point in overtime in Lexington last month.  The Tigers had four players in double-figures in each game.  O’Bryant scored 29 and 20 versus Kentucky.  Unless the Wildcats have found a way to negate LSU’s big man, we’ll take LSU in an upset on the neutral court.  (OK, it’ll seem like Rupp South in “Catlanta,” but we’ll still take the Tigers.)


Game Ten

11 Vanderbilt vs 3 Georgia:  What an incredible job by Mark Fox inside the conference this season.  After a 6-6 start out of conference, the Bulldogs went 12-6 in league play, landed the #3 seed in the SEC tourney, and will enjoy a double-bye.  If our picks hold, Vandy’s thin roster will be playing its third game in as many days by this point.  UGA has won four of its last five.  VU handed Georgia one of only two home losses all season, but we’ll take the team that plays superior defense.  That means we’ll take Georgia to reach the semifinals.

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SEC Hoops Roundup: Florida Hits 18-0; UGA Wraps Up 3-Seed

gfx-hoops-round-up2Florida 84 – Kentucky 65. Video Highlights

1. Florida is the first SEC team to go 18-0 in the regular season. Billy Donovan: “For me as the coach it’s the greatest regular season I’ve ever been a part of.”

2. Florida said goodbye to a strong senior class. It’s a group that played as close to its potential as possible, Donovan said.

3. Kentucky had a brief run on Saturday when it showed what people thought it would be this year.

4. Kentucky hopes to find its “mojo” when it goes to the SEC tournament in Atlanta.

Ole Miss 65 – Vanderbilt 62. Video Highlights

5. Marshall Henderson after the game: “I want to thank everyone for everything.”

6. Andy Kennedy earned his 170th win as the head coach at Ole Miss.

7. Vanderbilt blew another second-half lead in its loss to Ole Miss.

Auburn 69 – Texas A&M 64. Video Highlights

8. It was a rare road win for Auburn, which only had one other road victory in the SEC before Saturday.

9. Texas A&M guard Alex Caruso: “We’re not winning enough games right now.”

Tennessee 72 – Missouri 45. Video Highlights

10. Is Tennessee an NCAA tournament team? Cuonzo Martin: “Yes, but you’ve got to keep going.”

11. Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson after the game: “They blew us out. There’s not much you could say, really.”

12. “Frustration” was the mood Missouri coach Frank Haith used to describe his team.

South Carolina 74 – Mississippi State 62.

13. South Carolina’s Brenton Williams scored a game-high 27 points to help lead the Gamecocks on the road.

14. Mississippi State coach Rick Ray after the game: “We’re not very good. I mean, it’s just as simple as that.”

Alabama 83 – Arkansas 58.

15. Alabama dominated from the very beginning. “We played hard for 40 minutes,” guard Trevor Releford said.

16. The big win on Senior Day felt like the start of something special for Alabama, writes Kevin Scarbinsky.

17. “Scoring was the issue” for Arkansas, coach Mike Anderson said.

Georgia 69 – LSU 61.

18. Georgia finished the regular season with its most SEC wins since 1990.

19. LSU forward Jarell Martin credited the physical play of Georgia for the Bulldogs’ win.

20. LSU hopes it can turn things around when it goes to the SEC tournament.

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SEC Headlines 3/8/2014

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Report: Dan Mullen and Mississippi State in contract talk extensions.

2. Texas coach Charlie Strong wants to renew the rivalry with Texas A&M.  ”When there’s been so much tradition there, you’d like to see it continue on.”

3. No Johnny Manziel but still plenty of options at quarterback for the Texas A&M.

4. John Theus is moving from right tackle to left tackle for Georgia.

5. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on competition at the quarterback spot:  ”That competition, that’s how you get better, that’s how you grow.”

6. Plenty of options at running back for Ole Miss.

7. Early signing period for college football?


8. Couple of NFL draft analysts now have Johnny Manziel going fourth overall to the Cleveland Browns.

SEC Basketball

9. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: “One of the primary focuses that we have is changing the perception of our basketball over the next several years.”

10. Andy Staples on Florida: “These Gators won’t overwhelm anyone with their athleticism, but they might overwhelm a team with their defensive stubbornness.”

11. Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs will sit down with coach Tony Barbee at the end of the season.  Is his job in jeopardy?

12. An argument to keep South Carolina coach Frank Martin suspended until he cleans up his “expletive act.”

13. If LSU beats Georgia today, Tigers will clinch the sixth seed in the SEC Tournament. And if Georgia loses and Tennesse wins, Vols claim third place in the SEC.

14. Missouri has received more points and rebounds from this freshmen class than any of the past four seasons.

15. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy on the future of his program: “I’m really high on some of our young guys.”

16. Jerry Palm on bubble teams and potential bid stealers.


17. Paul Finebaum’s book on the SEC goes on sale in August.  Here’s a look at the cover.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 3/8/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Kentucky at Florida

1. As the Gators go for perfection in conference play, this Florida senior class has racked up some amazing numbers.  Another major milestone awaits.

2. Kentucky coach John Calipari on the challenge facing his team: ”It’s not going to be easy. There is nothing that’s going to be easy about it.”

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss

3. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings can’t understand  why some of his players are hesitant to shoot the ball.  ”There is a reluctance and you’re not sure why it exists.”

4. The “Marshall Henderson Show” is almost over.  Last home game for the Ole Miss senior guard.

Auburn at Texas A&M

5. At one point the SEC’s leading scorer, Auburn guard Chris Denson has scored just nine points in his last two games.

6. Status of senior guard Fabyon Harris uncertain today.  Coach Billy Kennedy: ”He’s limited in what he can do, so we are still unsure what he will be able to do.”

Missouri at Tennessee

7. Sitting on the bubble, a victory at Tennessee would be huge for Missouri’s NCAA Tournament chances.  Coach Frank Haith: “They’re an NCAA Tournament team, so if you beat them twice it definitely helps you.”

8. Tennessee is playing some its best basketball of the year.  But is this a “play-out” game for both these teams?

South Carolina at Mississippi State

9. Suspended South Carolina coach Frank Martin apologized Friday afternoon. “I understand that I represent this university and I have a duty to conduct myself in a certain way.”

10. Mississippi State senior Colin Borchert on what he’s learned from coach Rick Ray: “The biggest thing I’m going to take from is how you can succeed when you come from nothing.”

Arkansas at Alabama

11. Streaking Arkansas trying to win its fourth straight SEC road game.  Best Razorbacks road team in 20 years?

12. Last home game for Alabama guard Trevor Releford.  Coach Anthony Grant: ”He’s 6-foot on the outside but he’s like 6-8 on the inside.”

Georgia at LSU

13. A win for Georgia locks down third place in the SEC and a double-bye in the conference tournament.

14. LSU senior guard Andre Stringer is “the final vestige of the Tigers’ failed resurrection plan four years ago under former coach Trent Johnson.”


15. The Antlers at Missouri and other student groups get attention from ESPN’s Outside The Lines this weekend.


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SEC Headlines 3/7/2014

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Debate over number of conference games almost over.  Commissioner Mike Slive says decision for 2016 and beyond will come by the SEC spring meetings in May.

2. If a targeting penalty is overturned this fall, player will remain in game AND 15-yard penalty will no longer apply.

3. Nick Saban may deny it but Steve Spurrier still believes the 10-second delay rule originated with the Alabama coach: “He’s the guy that went out there and got them to put it on the table for discussion.”

4. Chris Low:  ”Saban will remain the lightning rod in this debate…”

5. Saban likes his group of early enrollees.“I’ve been really impressed with the eight freshmen that we have here.”

6. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin wouldn’t elaborate on Thursday’s dismissal of defensive back  Kameron Miles. ”There was a release today. That’s about it.”

7. There’s a change in style of quarterback at LSU: “the era of the statuesque purple and gold pocket passer looks like it has gone the way of single bar facemasks.”

8. Big focus for Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason - his footwork.

9. How is new Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt changing things?  Let us count the ways.

10. Kentucky makes it official - Craig Naivar is the new special teams coordinator and safeties coach

11. A low-key start as South Carolina begins spring practice.

12. He’s Deterrian – Not D.T. – Shackelford and he’ll begin his sixth season at Ole Miss this fall.

13. Three things to watch in spring practice at Tennessee.  Is this a 5-to-7 win team?

14. Coach Butch Jones: “They’re eager. They’re willing. They have no bad habits right now. They hang on everything you say.”

15. Six trends to watch in spring practice at Missouri.  Who will be the leaders of this Tigers team?

Stadiums and Alcohol

16. Ron Higgins on beer and ball games: “SEC athletic directors need to walk a straight line slowly and carefully when discussing selling at beer in stadiums.”

17. Kevin Scarbinsky: “I’m not sure the most passionate state in the nation needs any more of a buzz when it comes to college football.”


18. Johnny Manziel signs a multi-year deal with Nike - reportedly highest price paid for a rookie in this year’s class.

19. Clearing up some misinformation about the health of Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

SEC Basketball

20. Florida is a win away from SEC history – a perfect 18-0 conference.  Kentucky is the only thing standing in its way.

21. LSU was 17-0 in SEC play in 1981 when it lost to Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

22. Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs demanded “significant improvement.” Has Tony Barbee delivered?

23. During the current Arkansas hot streak, reserve guard  Anthlon Bell has caught fire.

24. Like a lot of SEC teams, Missouri tends to win at home and lose on the road.  ”This team hasn’t given us any reason to expect any more or less.”

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SEC Headlines 3/6/2014

headlines-thuNCAA 10-Second Rule Proposal

1. NCAA rules committee votes unanimously to withdraw proposal aimed at slowing down hurry-up offenses.

2. Jeremy Fowler: “Now officials and coaches can exhale, stop making movie parodies and have a sensible, year-long discussion about what’s best.”

3. Kevin Scarbinsky: “Give the short-lived 10-second proposal its due. It now has become the blueprint of how not to get a new rule passed.”

4. Nick Saban: “Look, I had nothing to do with the 10-second rule.”

5. “By the time (Saban and Bret Bielema) finally did speak, their villainous motives had widely been accepted as fact.”

6. Church marquee message: “Support the ban on slingshots.” — Goliath.  So was that a shot at Saban?

SEC Coaching News

7. Vavae Tata will not be a position coach at Vanderbilt this year- pleads guilty to drunk driving charge. Long-term status remains unclear

8. New deal official for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel - $3.1 million a season, extended through 2020. Now nine SEC head coaches making more than $3 million a year.

9. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s contract at Florida will pay him $590,000 a year through 2016.

SEC Football

10. Safety Kameron Miles reportedly dismissed from Texas A&M - goes on Twitter to apologize.

11. Could Johnny Manziel’s time at Texas A&M “turn out to be the low point of the Kevin Sumlin era”?

12. Georgia safety Damian Swann on new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt: “He’s going to be a great coach.”

13. Georgia running back Todd Gurley a Heisman front-runner?

14. LSU pushes the start of spring practice back to Saturday.  No clear favorite at quarterback for the Tigers.

15. Nick Saban on the quarterback battle at Alabama: ”We’re not going to be in any hurry to decide who the quarterback is.”

16. Was Tim Tebow the greatest SEC quarterback of the BCS era?

17. Ole Miss has four players who have never taken a college snap competing to be Bo Wallace’s backup.

18. JUCO stars expected to a play key role on the line for both Tennessee and South Carolina.

19. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on his 2014 team: “We only have 13 seniors, so we’re extremely youthful,”

20. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on sexual orientation and college football:  ”In our world, we treat people by their performance.”

21. SEC plans to review its alcohol policy for neutral-site games and home games off campus. Time to “enhance the fan experience”?


22. Texas A&M linebacker Nate Askew runs a 4.45 40 at the Aggies pro day on Wednesday.

23. NFL analyst Mike Mayock now believes Auburn’s Chris Davis could be an early-round pick.

SEC Basketball

24. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla on Kentucky: ”I just think they look like a team not having any fun.”

25. Missouri has three more transfers lined up to play next season.

26. LSU at Vanderbilt tonight.  Tigers look to be on course for NIT bid.

27. Tennessee’s new “Made in March” smokey gray basketball uniforms.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 3/6/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Missouri 57 – Texas A&M 56. Video Highlights

1. Earnest Ross gets two steals and scores Missouri’s final seven points in the last 1:06 of the game.

2. Texas A&M is 16-2 at home.  Aggies now just 1-11 away from Reed Arena.

Arkansas 110 – Ole Miss 80. Video Highlights

3. Razorbacks connect on 17 three-point shots.  Arkansas has now won six straight games. 110 most ever for Arkansas at home in conference play.

4. The Arkansas bench outscores Ole Miss bench 71-26.

Tennessee 82 – Auburn 54. Video Highlights

5. First three-game conference winning streak of the season for Tennessee.  In back-to-back games, Vols beat Vandy and Auburn by a combined 66 points.

6. Did Tony Barbee coach his final home game at Auburn? “I’m proud of the guys, the way they’re fighting and looking forward to coaching against Texas A&M.”

Georgia 66 – Mississippi State 45.

7. Georgia just a win away from wrappping up third place in the SEC.  But Bulldogs would lose tiebreaker to both Tennessee and Arkansas and fall to fifth place if they lose and those two win on Saturday.

8. Mississippi State will finish season with no true road game victories.  Bulldogs losing streak now at 12 games.

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SEC Headlines 3/5/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Ole Miss All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche suspended for season opener against Boise State.  Will also not participate in spring arrest after recent arrest. Bobby Hill no longer on the team.

2. Georgia will face a short-handed Clemson team in its opener.  Tigers suspend four players – including two returning starters. “That’s a nice change for the Bulldogs, who have been mocked before by certain SEC coaches for almost always having multiple players suspended early in the season.”

3. Tennessee wide receiver Alton “Pig” Howard taking a leave of absence from team. Coach Butch Jones says he’s ”dealing with some personal circumstances.”

4. Tennessee fifth-year senior defensive tackle Gregory Clark won’t be on Vols roster this fall - imoving on with his post-college career. Are  A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt one of the best linebacking duos in the conference?

5. Five players who won’t be returning to Missouri this fall.

6. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on proposed 10-second rule: “I’ve heard they’ve hopefully tabled it, but I’m not sure.”

7. There are several ways to impact safety in college football that have nothing to do with tempo.

8. Five SEC quarterback battles to watch this spring.

9. The majority of Florida’s spring practices will be open to the public this year.

10. Auburn hires a high school coach as director of high school relations.

11. Matt Hayes gives us 68 reasons why college football is better than college basketball.

12. Who gets back on top first - Alabama football coach Nick Saban or Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari?  ”The smart money would be on Saban.”


13. Pro day today at Arkansas - 14 former Razorbacks participating.

14. List of players that participated in Texas A&M’s pro day this morning – Johnny Manziel will have a separate workout later this month.

15. At Auburn’s pro day on Tuesday, 17 players took part. Former player Demetruce McNeal explains the circumstances of his dismissal prior to the season.

16. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn: “Each year, we’ll have guys that go to the next level.”

SEC Basketball

17. As Florida goes for conference perfection Saturday, ticket prices reportedly skyrocketing.

18. Texas A&M at Missouri.  Aggies have won just one true road game all year - at Tennessee.

19. Can Missouri’s Keanau Post build of his breakout game against Mississippi State Saturday?  “It has been a lot more difficult than I thought.”

20. Mizzou’s Senior Night won’t feature a single player who’s spent his entire career with the Tigers.

21. Mississippi State at Georgia.  MSU hasn’t won a road game since last January - and it came at Georgia.

22. Georgia a game ahead of Tennessee and Arkansas in SEC standings - what happens if they end in a three-way tie?

23. Ole Miss at Arkansas. Bud Walton Arena tough place to play for most - but Andy Kennedy’s teams have won four straight there.

24. Tennessee at Auburn.  Expect a close game. None of the four teams to win at Auburn did so by more than eight points

25. Final home game for Georgia’s Donte’ Williams.

26. C.M. Newton on Trevor Lacey’s transfer from Alabama to North Carolina State: ”The Lacey kid leaving the Alabama program was a mistake on everybody’s part, in my opinion. The kid should have stayed right here.”

27. Our earlier roundup of Tuesday night SEC hoops action.


28. Dementia and 83-year old Dean Smith.

29. Jay Bilas on playing professionally in Italy: “At halftime I went in the locker room and three of my teammates were smoking cigarettes. It was different.”

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Here’s The Skinny On SEC Tourney Possibilities

SEC_MBBall2014_FulClrWith one week to play in the regular season there are some genuine surprises across the SEC basketball landscape:


* Florida remains undefeated at 16-0 in the league

* Kentucky — a preseason pick by some to go undefeated — now have five league losses and eight overall

*  After a 6-6 non-conference start, Georgia is in third place in the SEC just one game behind Kentucky

*  Arkansas, Missouri, LSU and Tennessee have all managed to land squarely on the NCAA bubble and no better

*  Alabama and Ole Miss have disappointed

*  Did we mention Georgia is in third place in the SEC?


Below are the current SEC standings with the current RPI and strength of schedule numbers tossed in for good measure:


  School   SEC Record   Overall Record   RPI Rank   SOS Rank
  Florida   16-0   27-2   3   14
  Kentucky   11-5   21-8   19   9
  Georgia   10-6   16-12   84   69
  Arkansas   9-7   20-9   57   75
  Tennessee   9-7   17-11   48   16
  LSU   8-8   17-11   63   54
  Missouri   8-8   20-9   49   78
  Ole Miss   8-8   17-12   92   88
  Texas A&M   8-8   17-12   113   107
  Alabama   7-9   12-16   104   4
  Vanderbilt   7-9   15-13   94   58
  Auburn   4-12   12-15   191   101
  S. Carolina   4-12   11-18   176   65
  Miss. State   3-13   13-16   227   148


Next Wednesday at the Georgia Dome, the SEC Tournament will commence with the bottom four teams in the league battling it out to reach the main body of the event.  The league won’t say it, but these two games amount to play-in games.  Three of those slots are already open and waiting for Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi State.  The worst remaining record from the current bunch at 8-8 (LSU, Missouri, Ole Miss or Texas A&M) will join the other three on the tournament’s opening night.

On Thursday, the winner of the 12-13 game will face the league’s #5 seed.  As of today, that would be Arkansas.  The Razorbacks are currently tied with Tennessee, but the Volunteers beat the Razorbacks head-to-head in Knoxville to gain the tiebreaker.

Also, the 11-14 winner will battle the SEC’s #6 seed.  That could be almost anyone, but assuming Arkansas and Tennessee win out (which is a big assumption) the sixth seed will likely be one of those teams currently sitting at or 8-8.

Thursday also offers up an 8-9 game and a 7-10 game.  Again, those figure to match teams who are currently 8-8 or 7-9.

The top four teams in the SEC get double-byes into Friday’s action.  On the surface that’s a blessing, but the old Big East Tournament often saw lower-seeded teams get hot early and take down higher-seeded, double-bye teams that had gone a week between games.  That said, everyone wants a double-bye.

Florida has already secured the top seed overall.  For now, let’s keep the rest of the #2 through #4 battle simple.  If Kentucky wins one game this week — against Alabama or at Florida — the Wildcats will lock up the #2 seed regardless of Georgia’s finish.  The Wildcats knocked off the Bulldogs head-to-head.

Georgia can lock up the #3 slot if it wins out against Mississippi State and LSU on the road.  And as noted above, if Tennessee wins out at Auburn and at home against Missouri, the Vols will get the final double-bye.


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