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The SEC Shooty Hoops Review: Week 4 (January 19th - January 25th)

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NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Tennessee
Lew Evans, resident Wildcat killer
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

I know this is an SEC-focused article, but this is still a Tennessee blog, right? So, if you’ll permit me a remnant reaction from Tuesday night.

WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!! It’s always a great game when you beat Kentucky. This must be what it feels like to beat Alabama in football. I have a vague memory of it, but I’m not 100% sure I remember the sensation.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s talk SEC. Depending on your point of view, the SEC either exhibited its depth this week (with teams such as Vanderbilt and Texas A&M scoring upsets over aspiring tournament hopefuls Florida and Georgia) or proved that it wasn’t any good to start with.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Week That Was

On Saturday, it looked as though Kentucky had thoroughly asserted their dominance over the rest of the league with a convincing win over South Carolina. They promptly turned around and dropped a game in Knoxville that...didn’t look like a fluke? I maintain what I said from last week that, as usual, Kentucky has all the pieces. Are they a great team? Results unclear; ask again later.

I guess I’ll keep throwing a few words toward the bottom here, too. What’s up, Mizzou?! I’ll give the Other Other Tigers some props. Despite being on an 11-game losing streak, they had 2nd half leads on the state of Mississippi this week, but couldn’t close the deal. I’ll keep saying it until I’m right...they’re gonna clip somebody...

To the games!

Week 4 SEC Results

Team Overall Record Conference Record Weekend Game Weekend Result Midweek Game Midweek Result
Team Overall Record Conference Record Weekend Game Weekend Result Midweek Game Midweek Result
Kentucky 17-3 7-1 South Carolina W, 85-69 @Tennessee L, 80-82
South Carolina 16-4 6-1 @Kentucky L, 69-85 Auburn W, 98-69
Florida 15-5 6-2 Vanderbilt L, 66-68 @LSU W, 106-71
Alabama 12-7 5-2 @Auburn L, 64-84 @Georgia W, 80-60
Arkansas 16-4 5-3 LSU W, 99-86 @Vanderbilt W, 71-70
Mississippi State 13-6 4-3 @Tennessee L, 74-91 Missouri W, 89-74
Georgia 12-8 4-4 @Texas A&M L, 62-63 Alabama L, 60-80
Tennessee 11-9 4-4 Mississippi State W, 91-74 Kentucky W, 82-80
Auburn 13-7 3-5 Alabama W, 84-64 @South Carolina L, 69-98
Ole Miss 12-8 3-5 @Missouri W, 75-71 Texas A&M L, 76-80
Texas A&M 11-8 3-5 Georgia W, 63-62 @Ole Miss W, 80-76
Vanderbilt 9-11 3-5 @Florida W, 68-66 Arkansas L, 70-71
LSU 9-10 1-7 @Arkansas L, 86-99 Florida L, 71-106
Missouri 5-14 0-7 Ole Miss L, 71-75 @Mississippi State L, 74-89

Those tiers we talked about over the last few weeks? Still very present.

There’s the “Why, yes, we would like to participate in the NCAA Tournament” tier of teams with 5 or more wins in conference play (except Alabama...get out of here, Alabama!). Below that, you’ll find the “Are we good? Bad? Exceptionally mediocre? Who knows!” tier of 7 teams with either 3 or 4 wins in the league. Bringing up the rear, there’s the “Coached by Johnny Jones/only SEC team to lose to a Johnny Jones-coached team” tier.

This Saturday will give 10 teams a totally random/unnecessary break from SEC play, so we’ll hit the halfway point of the conference schedule next week with these tiers largely intact.

This Week’s Super Squadron

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Vanderbilt
I’m a professional, but man, I did NOT enjoy putting this team here
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, Arkansas was trending in the wrong direction. Sure, it’s tough to start the SEC slate with Florida and Kentucky in your first 3 games, but the Razorbacks were sitting at 1-3 with only a Knoxville rally sitting between them and 0-4 in the SEC.

The Hogs have taken care of business since then against a particularly squishy part of the schedule, going 4-0 against Missouri, A&M, LSU, and Vanderbilt to get back into the upper crust of the conference and firm up their tournament standing.

Really, though, it’s last night’s game that gets them here. As I was mentally penning an initial outline of this article, I had all of the SEC’s postseason aspirants suffering a bad loss with Arkansas down 58-43 with 6 minutes left in Nashville. And then with Vandy’s help, they absolutely stole one in Memorial, closing the game on a 28-12 run sealed by 3 free throw to win after a JPPMFOATPS with 1.6 seconds left.

That would’ve been a bad loss (ask Florida about it). Arkansas avoided it. They had a good week. Volundore is upset.

This Week’s Turrible Team

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Georgia
And you get an ejection! And YOU get an ejection!
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

I REALLY wanted to go LSU again here. They gave up an average of 102.5 points last week! In two 40 minute games! With college players!

Last week, Georgia was a team on the rise. Close losses on the road to South Carolina and Florida were the only blemishes on the SEC docket, and the Dawgs had a chance to bag some wins and move up the bubble with middling teams on the schedule.

For 38 minutes in College Station, things were going fine. But a 62-53 lead with under 2 left became a 63-62 loss after Georgia collapsed down the stretch ahead of a controversial finish. Needing to bounce back at home against Alabama tonight, Georgia led 2-0 and then never again as Fox got run and the Bulldogs got run out of their own building, losing 80-60.

That, my friends, is how you effectively damage your profile.

Bracket Matrix: Who Might Dance

With 6.5 weeks until Selection Sunday, I’m markedly less bullish than I was last week (which maybe it’s foolish to do this section on a weekly basis but I like it so we’re keeping it and that’s that!).

Georgia’s position will be much bleaker as brackets update to incorporate this week’s grim performances. Florida’s bad loss at home to Vanderbilt knocked them down a few rungs. Arkansas hasn’t played anybody good, but wins are better than losses. Kentucky and South Carolina are holding steady.

Is there a 5th team out there? Can somebody get hot in the next 5 weeks and play themselves into serious consideration? UGA had the best position until this week, but they just took it on the chin twice. Will they bounce back? Based on RPI (48) and KenPom (42), a potential 5th team may be...the Tennessee Volunteers.

I’m going to attempt to restrain myself, but if 3pm CST on Saturday finds the Vols with a 2nd win over a version of the Wildcats in 5 days...I may not be able to do so any longer.

Eye on the NCAA: January 25th

Team Average BM Seed # of Brackets (80) Bracketology KenPom RPI
Team Average BM Seed # of Brackets (80) Bracketology KenPom RPI
Kentucky 1 80 1 2 6
Florida 6 80 6 15 11
South Carolina 7 79 7 27 17
Arkansas 10 76 9 46 29
Georgia First Four Out 34 First Four Out 53 54
Ole Miss Others 2 N/A 98 61

Games to Watch: Week 3

Weekend: Kansas at Kentucky

The matchup of Mississippi State and Alabama is (like not kidding) kind of meaningful for two teams trying to establish themselves...but come on. It’s KU and UK.

Sorry, not sorry, but some of the luster is gone from this one with both teams coming off road losses on Tuesday night. That said, this is a match up of blue blood programs at one of the nation’s best arenas. Giddy up.

[On a side note, yikes, the SEC/Big 12 Challenge did not play out well for those broadcasting (ESPN!)/sponsoring (Sonic, apparently!) the thing. After KU-UK, the 2nd best game is...K State-UT? Arkansas-Oklahoma State? At least one team in each game is mediocre to bad and this definitely doesn’t look like a weird, late January, forced money grab...nope.]

Midweek: Alabama at Arkansas

I kind of wanted to punt on this one...but I guess this could kind of matter?

Alabama could make an argument as the 5th SEC team if they could go on a run, currently sitting at 69 in RPI and 60 in KenPom. Take care of Mississippi State on Saturday and win this one and maybe they start to show up in a few fringe brackets? Maybe?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯