February 11th, 2013 03:34 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Alabama, BCS, Elite Eight, Final Four, LSU, Mike Slive, Mississippi State, National Champion, Ole Miss, recruiting, RPI, SEC, Sweet Sixteen
The Southeastern Conference is known for football. Seven BCS titles in row. Five different schools with BCS crowns since the system’s inception in 1998. Big name coaches, famous stadiums, dominant recruiting.
Mention the words “college football” and the letters S-E-C will pop into most people’s minds.
But utter the words “SEC basketball” and a different three letters come to mind: B-A-D.
Spin it any way you like, Mike Slive’s league is struggling through an abysmal season. Florida has been dominant. Kentucky finally appears to be rounding into shape. Missouri has been a little worse than expected; Ole Miss a little better. After that, it’s unlikely any of the conference’s 10 remaining teams will receive at-large invitations to the NCAA Tournament. Saddled with a #8 RPI ranking among conferences, four bids might be generous.
In an age when the NCAA Tournament has been expanding, the number of SEC tourney berths has been declining. This is more than a down year… it’s a trend:
|Tournament||# of Bids (League Rank)||Tourney Record||Best Finish|
|2012||4 (5th among leagues)||10-3||National Champion|
|2011||5 (3rd among leagues)||7-5||Final Four|
|2010||4 (5th among leagues)||6-4||Two in Elite Eight|
|2009||3 (6th among leagues)||1-3||Round of 32|
|2008||6 (2nd among leagues)||4-6||Sweet Sixteen|
|2007||5 (4th among leagues)||11-4||National Champion|
|2006||6 (2nd among leagues)||13-5||National Champion|
|2005||5 (3rd among leagues)||5-5||Elite Eight|
|2004||6 (tied for 1st among leagues)||7-6||Elite Eight|
|2003||6 (tied for 1st among leagues)||6-6||Elite Eight|
From afar, the SEC has continued to have success — in most years — in the NCAA Tournament regardless of its dwindling number of bids. But in many of those seasons, the SEC was dominated by just one or two teams. That’s a far cry from the top-to-bottom toughness produced by the very same schools on the gridiron.
Using mathematician/hoops guru Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings as a guide, here’s a look at the SEC teams that finished in his top 20 over the past decade:
2012: #1 Kentucky, #12 Florida, #16 Vanderbilt
2011: #6 Kentucky, #16 Florida
2010: #3 Kentucky
2008: #14 Tennessee
2007: #2 Florida, #14 Kentucky
2006: #1 Florida, #10 LSU, #15 South Carolina, #17 Arkansas, #20 Kentucky
2005: #6 Florida, #10 Kentucky, #18 Alabama
2004: #9 Kentucky, #17 Mississippi State
2003: #2 Kentucky, #12 Mississippi State, #14 Florida, #17 LSU, #18 Georgia
As you can see, the number of top 20-caliber teams from the SEC has fallen drastically. There were 17 SEC teams in the final top 20 of Pomeroy’s rankings from 2003 to 2007. From 2008 to 2012, there have been just seven teams in his final top 20 rankings.
Worse, of the 24 top 20 slots filled by SEC squads in the last decade, 14 were filled by two schools: Florida and Kentucky. Compare that to the SEC’s football success where in the last five years Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and Texas A&M have all had top 10-type seasons.
(In case you’re wondering Pomeroy’s current hoops rankings have Florida #1 and Kentucky #18. No other SEC schools rank in his top 20. Same song, different verse.)
So why do 14 schools that recruit the same areas in both sports have such drastically different results when it comes to football and basketball?
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