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Tourney Outlook Remains Bleak For The SEC

calculatorTonight, Georgia will visit #7 Florida and #13 Kentucky will travel to Arkansas.

Florida… Kentucky.

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 — 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
  6   Florida   13   2-0   13-2   2-2   0   3
  16   Kentucky   12   2-0   12-3   1-2   0   3
  49   Missouri   108   1-1   13-2   1-1   1   2
  57   Tennessee   29   1-1   9-5   2-2   2   5
  69   LSU   95   1-1   10-4   0-2   1   4
  80   Ole Miss   92   1-1   10-5   0-3   1   4
  87   Arkansas   118   0-2   11-4   2-3   1   4
  107   S. Carolina   30   0-2   7-8   0-3   2   3
  111   Texas A&M   161   2-0   11-4   0-2   1   3
  124   Alabama   14   1-1   6-8   0-5   2   5
  131   Vanderbilt   106   0-2   8-6   0-2   1   3
  147   Miss. State   282   1-1   11-4   0-1   2   3
  178   Auburn   181   0-2   8-5   0-3   1   3
  180   Georgia   191   2-0   8-6   1-2   3   3


Alright, let’s start this breakdown with some help from Monty Python…


Monty Python-Bring out your dead!


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.

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Six NCAA Bids For The SEC? Looks Like Three Or Four To Us

calculatorEach year as the NCAA Tournament draws near, we do a pretty darn good job of telling you which SEC teams will land bids and which won’t.  That’s not because we’re blessed with a sixth sense or a high basketball IQ; it’s because we’re blessed with a calculator.

Season in and season out, about 95% of NCAA Tournament field can be predicted by us, by bracketologists like Jerry Palm and Joe Lunardi, and by you.  If a team’s RPI is within the top 30 in the nation, it’s pretty much a lock to make the 68-team field.  If it’s in the 40s, 50s or 60s, that team’s chances are slim.  If it’s 70 or up there’s a high probability it’s NIT time.

So when we saw ESPN’s Lunardi predict last week that six SEC teams would make the tourney field we did a double-take.  Six?  Try four.  At least going by the math as it currently stands.

Below are the up-to-date tourney resumes for each SEC squad as we enter the conference portion of the 2013-14 schedule.  You’ll see there’s a pretty wide gap between the top schools and those bringing up the rear.  We compare each team’s record, RPI and strength of schedule ranking (from, and record against top 50 RPI teams.  Finally, we tally each squad’s remaining games against top 50 RPI competition to see which teams have the most chances to improve their standing with the selection committee:


  School   Record   RPI Rank   SOS Rank   Vs Top 50 RPI   Rem. Gms Vs Top 50 RPI
  Florida   11-2   16   48   3-2   3
  Kentucky   10-3   19   12   2-3   3
  Missouri   12-1   29   105   1-1   2
  LSU   9-3   53   67   0-2   4
  Tennessee   8-4   54   27   2-2   5
  Ole Miss   9-4   79   86   0-2   4
  Arkansas   11-2   83   212   2-1   5
  Vanderbilt   8-4   94   108   0-1   4
  S. Carolina   7-6   95   37   1-3   4
  Alabama   5-7   119   9   0-5   5
  Auburn   8-3   161   259   0-2   4
  Texas A&M   9-4   177   242   0-2   3
  Miss. State   10-3   183   336   0-0   4
  Georgia   6-6   257   264   0-2   4


So what do we know at this point?


1.  The SEC is once again a pretty bad basketball league.  In fact, a terrible weekend dropped the league from sixth in conference RPI all the way back down to eighth, where it languished for most of last season.

2.  The SEC is just 11-28 versus current top 50 RPI clubs.  That’s horrible.  Especially considering the fact that eight of the conference’s teams have played two or fewer top 50 teams.  To generalize, most SEC teams haven’t scheduled well —  Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M, MSU and Georgia all rank below 200 in strength of schedule — and those that have tested themselves against stiff competition have mostly flopped.

3.  Looking at the far right column you’ll find that teams can’t expect to do a lot of real resume-boosting in conference play.  At the moment there are only three SEC squads in the top 50 of the RPI.  Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama all have five games against league-mates, but most schools will only play three or four top 50 teams inside the league.  Missouri will only play Florida and Kentucky once each… that’s it… no other top 50 RPI games for the Tigers.

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