Note: USA Today has almost no Arkansas highlights from our game this weekend. The selected photo of Anton Beard using Thompson as a screener was probably called an offensive foul.
I would rather the schedule work out a little differently. It would be more fun to play Kentucky and Florida at the end of the season. It would shape up more like a boss fight, and a close regular season loss or win makes it mean more when you hopefully play again in Nashville.
But still, it’s nice to look at the schedule and see a road of more human teams out in front of us. My hope is that our players play all of these teams like they played in the first half against Kentucky.
It’s not a big surprise who’s at the top, but some surprising teams are still winless in the SEC. Based on early results, I will be surprised if the SEC gets more than 5 teams into the tournament despite the fact that 12 teams still have top 100 RPIs.
1) Kentucky (13-2, 3-0, RPI: 6) - Kentucky made a case for why they are and should be at the top of the SEC with a blowout win over the Hogs. The 2nd half really decided the game when De’Aaron Fox took over the game. Business Decision was relatively quiet.
2) Florida (12-3, 3-0, RPI: 3) - Florida is currently riding a 5 game win streak. They outlasted the Vols in the 2nd half to stay unbeaten at home. Which is only 3 games this season.
3) Arkansas (12-3, 1-2, RPI: 24) - The Hogs still have the 3rd best resume in the SEC, and it’s hard to ding them for losing to Florida and Kentucky. It would’ve been nice to see the Hogs not get blown out in the 2nd half, but I can’t make an argument to put any other team ahead of the Hogs at this point. Arkansas still has plenty of work left.
4) South Carolina (12-3, 2-0, RPI: 28) - Undefeated in the SEC with a road win at Georgia would normally put a team over the 1-2 Razorbacks, but even with Syndarius Thornwell serving out a suspension, I can’t overlook losing to Memphis by 16.
5) Ole Miss (10-5, 1-2, RPI: 40) - Ole Miss got blown out in the 1st half of their meetings with top dogs Kentucky and Florida, but overcame a similar slow start on the road to beat Auburn. If Ole Miss can win 10 or more games in the league and avoid losses to the bottom dwellers, it will be hard to leave them at home in March. They have no bad losses.
6) Georgia (10-5, 2-1, RPI: 44) - Even during a miserable shooting night, Georgia still had a chance to beat South Carolina. The Bulldogs get to the free throw line at an amazing clip, so don’t be surprised if they manage to stick around in a lot of games this season.
7) Alabama (9-5, 2-0, RPI: 69) - In only 5 games this season, has either team managed to score more than 70 points in an Alabama game. Alabama wins ugly. Alabama score lines are looking like Big 10 games now. The 4 game win streak probably won’t last with the Gators coming to town, but you never know.
8) Tennessee (8-7, 1-2, RPI: 64) - Maybe I’m just seeing things that aren’t there, but I was pretty impressed with Tennessee’s defense against Arkansas, and they even had a lead in their game against Florida this week. The Vols are still just hoping to get 10 or so more wins to get into the NIT.
9) Vanderbilt (8-7, 2-1, RPI: 52) - Vanderbilt’s offense came to a screeching halt against Alabama, but 2-1 technically puts them ahead of Arkansas in the SEC standings. Things don’t get easier for Vanderbilt with their next 5 games being against Kentucky, Tennesse, @Georgia, @Florida, and Arkansas. Their best win all season might end up being Chattanooga.
10) Mississippi State (10-4, 1-1, RPI: 157) - This is probably one of the scariest teams on the schedule for a lot of the SEC. Their schedule is woefully empty of quality teams. They are the only team in the SEC with a bottom 100 Strength of Schedule. However, their road record is 1-0, after their win over LSU this week. They come to Bud Walton Tuesday night.
11) LSU (9-5, 1-2, RPI: 83) - Once you get below the Tigers there are no more SEC wins to be found. LSU actually has a better record in the non-conference than last year where they came together to come in 3rd in the SEC with a 11-7 record a year ago, but without Ben Simmons, I can’t imagine they have any optimism in Baton Rouge. At least you beat Mizzou?
12) Auburn (10-5, 0-3, RPI: 87) - Remember when Arkansas beat Texas and Oklahoma and then went 2-14 in the SEC? Well those teams were actually good. I fear that Auburn might headed for a similar road except their wins were over 2017 OU and Connecticut, which are not good teams. At least Missouri is on the schedule this week.
13) Texas A&M (8-6, 0-3, RPI: 94) - Texas A&M is an enigma. All but one win is against the RPI top 150+ but they beat Virginia Tech who is in the top 50. Meanwhile, all of their losses are against the top 100 including 5 to the top 50. Arkansas losing by 26 to Kentucky sucks, but at least we didn’t lose by 42.
14) Missouri (5-9, 0-2, RPI: 244) - Missouri is in a 6 game losing streak. I would say their best hope for a win on the schedule is that maybe Kentucky will have the SEC locked up and won’t play their starters or normal rotational players. If Kentucky just brings out their walk-ons and athletic trainers, Missouri might win on a buzzer beater in late February.