SEC Bubbleology

Stats ripped from here.

1. Florida: 21-5 (10-2) RPI: 13 SOS: 15
Last seven: 6-1 Remaining Games: UGA, @UK, Bama, @Vandy

vs RPI top 50: 8-1

Key Wins: Kentucky (RPI 16), Xavier (RPI 24), Vanderbilt (RPI 17)
Bad Losses: Jacksonville (RPI 117), South Carolina (RPI 119), Mississippi State (RPI 132), Arkansas (115)

Florida is obviously the #1 team in the SEC right now, but consider these margins of victory: 4 at Florida State, 4 at Xavier, Overtime at Tennessee, 5 at Auburn, Double OT at Georgia, OT home vs Vanderbilt, 2 vs Kentucky, 1 vs Tennessee, 7 at LSU. In what has been a familiar thing this year, an SEC East team plays a ton of close games. Unlike other SEC East teams, Florida has been consistently winning them. The only loss Florida has to a top-50 RPI team is to Ohio State in the second game of the season, and that ain't too shabby a loss now as it was then. They've lost to teams they shouldn't have, and at home no less (OT vs Jacksonville? Really Florida?) but it's making me want to vomit that the media-day projections are proving true and that Florida sits alone atop the SEC and look to be well on their way to finishing out with a regular-season crown. I wouldn't call them the champs quite yet, though, as they'll be playing three teams they beat by in double Overtime (Georgia), by 2 at home (Kentucky), and by 4 at home (Vanderbilt) along with SEC West leader Alabama as their last four games. Each of those is a game Florida can very likely lose, and to see them go 2-2 in that stretch would not be too surprising. Anything greater than an 0-4 finish would still likely be enough to keep them ahead of Vandy in the SEC East, though. Status: LOCK.

2. Vanderbilt: 20-7 (8-5) RPI: 17 SOS: 18
Last seven: 5-2 Remaining Games: @LSU, @Kentucky, Florida

vs RPI top 50: 5-5

Key Wins: North Carolina (RPI: 11), Kentucky (RPI 16)
Bad Losses: South Carolina (RPI 119), Arkansas (115)

What you like about Vanderbilt is that they have taken care of business against bad teams. They've only lost once to SEC West teams, that one coming against Arkansas, and are 5-5 against the RPI top 50. They lost once, in overtime, on the road, to South Carolina as their only bad loss, and really that's not so bad. This is a team that is solidly in, but a .500 record against top 50 teams and no games against any truly "good" teams hurts them in the end. When North Carolina is the best team you've played, well.. I hate UNC. Winning even a share of the SEC crown is probably out of reach for Vanderbilt, as Florida would have to go 2-2 in their games and Vandy would have to win out for the Commodores to have a shot at the shared title, and with their remaining games at Kentucky and against Florida, I don't really see them going better then 2-1; I expect them to drop to both Kentucky and the Gators. Will they earn a first-round bye in the SEC tournament? That really remains to be seen. Status: LOCK.

3. Kentucky: 19-8 (7-6) RPI: 16, SOS: 17
Last seven: 3-4 Remaining Games: Florida, Vandy, @UT

vs RPI top 50: 4-6

Key Wins: Louisville (RPI 25)
Bad Losses: Arkansas (115)

Consider this: in true road games Kentucky is 3-7, with one games lost by 7 (UGA), one game lost by 4 (Vandy), four games lost by two (UNC, Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida), and one game lost by 1 (Arkansas). If Kentucky wins those one-possession games they'd be sitting around 24-3 right now and best in the SEC, but they have only beat Portland, Louisville, and South Carolina on the road. Youth has been a major problem for the Cats this year, and it just keeps seeming to be the same script over and over in bad defense and sloppy execution costing them on the road. The good news is that they play two of their last three at home and have a shot of overtaking Vanderbilt for a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament. The potentially bad news is those games come against Florida and Vanderbilt and they then play at Tennessee -- just in time for them to get a big road victory on us. Joy, right? Kentucky will need to close out 2-1 to have a shot at a bye, but due to the no-losses-outside-the-top-100 they are definately in the tournament even if they end up going 0-3 against their SEC East rivals. Status: LOCK.

4. Tennessee: 17-11 (7-6) RPI 33 SOS: 2
Last seven: 3-4 Remaining Games: MSU, @South Carolina, Kentucky

vs RPI top 50: 6-5

Key Wins: Villinova (RPI 24), Pittsburg (RPI 9), Vanderbiltx2 (17)
Bad Losses: Charlotte (RPI 216), Arkansas (115)

What Tennessee most benefits from right now is that the teams that have beat the Vols seem to be, at the very least, goodish teams. Considering that the only loss outside of the RPI top 100 came at Charlotte 49-48 (in the only game yours truly has ever attended in person. Yeah, I'm never going back) and that the Volunteers have the nation's number 2 schedule right now, and that the Vols have the best out-of-conference win easilly in schooling Pittsburgh, most would consider the Vols a lock. They aren't, not yet, but that win over Vanderbilt really, really helped in a major way. As long as the Vols can avoid letdowns against MSU or South Carolina, they are in with room to spare. Lose one of those and fail to win in the SEC Tournament and then things get dicey. A bye in the SEC Tournament still isn't out of Tennessee's reach: consider if Florida beats both Vanderbilt and Kentucky (which they will be 'favored' to do so) and Kentucky beats Vanderbilt (which they will be 'favored' to do so) and the Vols win out (which they will be 'favored' to do so, if you factor Kentucky's road vs home play into account). That would put the Vols at 20-11 and 10-6 in the conference with Vandy and Kentucky at 9-6 and 8-8. Even if Vanderbilt beats Kentucky, if the Vols can win out and the Dores can drop just one more game we'll have the head-to-head winner which, I believe, will give us the bye game over Vanderbilt. Let's not count any byes before they happen, though, but I would say I'd feel better betting on the Vols getting a bye than Kentucky. Much like Kentucky, though, Tennessee has struggled in close games, this time at home. They've lost by 1 point three times this year (and, somehow, were able to only jack up a crazy three attempt in each of those games) and by one possession one time (by 3 to Arkansas, in which a crazy three attempt was justified. It'd be like us to have gone for two there, though, wouldn't it?). Closing games out has been an issue for the Vols, but they've shown they can play with an beat anybody; beating Pittsburg by 8 is deceivingly close, and losing by 11 to UConn is deceptively large. Status: NEAR LOCK.

5. Alabama: 19-8 (11-2) RPI 77 SOS 128
Last seven: 6-1 Remaining Games: @Ole Miss, @Florida, Georgia

vs RPI top 50: 2-2

Key Wins: Kentucky (RPI 16)
Bad Losses: Iowa (RPI 166), St Peter's (116), Providence (137), Arkansas (115)

Want to know why I'm not so worried that Tennessee will miss the dance? It's because teams like Alabama are going there right now. Make no mistake about it, though: Alabama is here only on the 11-2 drubbing they've put on the SEC, including wins over Tennessee and Kentucky. Starting off the season 4-5 and going 8-6 in non-conference does not a dancer make, though, and Alabama needs to win at least two of their remaining games and get a win in the SEC Tournament to feel really nice and comfortable about getting into the dance. The good news? Goes 2-1 will very possibly mean they'll win the SEC crown, especially if they find a way to win in Gainesville on March 1st. Circle that date on your callender, because it will likely determine the outcome of the SEC regular season banner. Alabama really, really, really avoided a killer tonight, too, as they pulled a Tennessee in winning the hardwood version of the Iron Bowl. Get this: with 9:56 left in that game the score was 41-30 Auburn. I didn't watch the game, and frankly I don't want to but Alabama did end on a 21-8 run in the final ten minutes to win on a last-second tip-in that wasn't as awesome as B-Will's Breadsticks. Still, I don't think the selection committee can leave a 13-3 SEC Team out of the tournament this year. I just don't. Going 2-1 will put them at 3-3 vs the RPI top 50 at worst. Status: BUBBLE, IN.

6. Georgia: 18-8 (7-5) RPI 37 SOS 31
Last seven: 4-3 Remaining Games: @Florida, South Carolina, LSU, @Alabama

vs RPI top 50: 3-8

Key Wins: Kentucky (RPI 16)
Bad Losses: None.

The only team on this list with truly no "bad" losses, Georgia also has the honor of easilly the worst record against the top-50 teams in the league. The win at Tennessee in their last game was so huge for them, and might come down to be the difference between these guys watching and playing later on in march. Still, my personal outlook isn't too hopeful. If they go 2-2 over their next four, winning the games they should and falling on the road to the conference leaders of Florida and Alabama, then they will be sitting at 9-7 in SEC play but will be 3-10 against the RPI top 50. Is that enough to get in? If it is, then just barely. Georgia desperately needs to upset Florida or Alabama and win a game in the tournament to feel even hap-hazardly safe with their chances of getting into the Big Dance, as that record against top teams is about as shaky as Georgia's ability to maintain a big lead in the second half. (What I'm trying to say is that they suck at maintaining a big lead in the second half). Status: BUBBLE, OUT.


Disagree with anything here? Think another team has a snowball's shot in Egypt to get in? First off, post what pain medications you're on to think that, secondly post why you think such. Is 5 teams from the SEC too many? Too few? The broadcaster for the Kentucky-Arkansas game last night said that he thought when it was all said-and-done the SEC would be behind only the Big East in number of teams put into the dance. That seems a bit high to me right now, thinking of what the Big Televenwelve  has on their side, but 6 teams right now is entirely in the picture for the SEC.

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