Kentucky and Florida at the top and Missouri at the bottom. That’s how the media predicted the SEC would finish, and while LSU almost played spoiler to Missouri’s bottom party, that part ended like we thought it would.
As we head into the SEC tournament, only Vanderbilt has work left to do, and while many teams will dream of a Mississippi State (2009) or Arkansas (2000) type run, it’s unlikely to happen. The safe money is on the 4 double-bye teams, and the even safer money is on Kentucky.
Still, Arkansas wants to continue surging and improve their seeding while South Carolina needs to build a little momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament.
1) Kentucky (26-5, 16-2, RPI: 7) - Outside of Lexington, most basketball fans laugh when they hear “Senior Night” for Kentucky, but on a night Derek Willis was honored and proposed to his girlfriend, Kentucky made the most of Senior Night with a come from deep behind against Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt gave Kentucky their best shot, but Kentucky still won. Kentucky was not really challenged by Texas A&M on Saturday.
2) Florida (24-7, 14-4, RPI: 5) - Florida won on Senior Night against Arkansas, but took one for the team when they let Vanderbilt win in Nashville this weekend. A loss would’ve meant doom for Vandy’s NCAA Tournament chances, and a win gave Vanderbilt life. Thanks Florida!
3) Arkansas (23-8, 12-6, RPI: 28) - Dusty said it better than I ever could. “We’re Going Dancing!” Enjoy it! Arkansas gets the nod over South Carolina here based on beating a better team than South Carolina lost to this week.
Big props go out to our seniors. Manny Watkins has stepped up in a big way this season, and Dusty Hannahs continues to prove all of the doubters wrong. Moses was yoked with an impossible SEC Pre-season POTY and fell very short of it, but you can’t deny that the season would’ve been a disaster without the big man. His play has for the most part improved at the end of the season, and you never know what could happen over the next 4 weeks. Thanks seniors!
4) South Carolina (22-9, 12-6, RPI: 31) - The usual end of the season slide for South Carolina was not as precipitous as usual, and Frank Martin has the Gamecocks most likely dancing for the first time since 2004.
5) Vanderbilt (17-14, 10-8, RPI: 44) - A win over the Gators was huge for the surging Commodores. After losing by one at home to Arkansas, Vanderbilt has looked like an NCAA Tournament team - save for the weird 20-point loss at Missouri. So much so, that they are now being considered as one of the last 4 byes by Lunardi. A win over Texas A&M on Friday will most likely keep them in it, but if they are able to beat the Gators for a 3rd time on Saturday, then I don’t see how you can keep this team at home.
6) Georgia (18-13, 9-9, RPI: 53) - J.J. Frazier still scored 20, even with getting his 4th foul with about 12 minutes left in the game on Saturday. Frazier is my vote for SEC player of the year. No one expects this team to go dancing, and they just don’t have enough help for Frazier to make a run in the SEC tournament. Losing Maten killed this season for Mark Fox and company.
7) Ole Miss (19-12, 10-8, RPI: 68) - South Carolina is becoming less and less of a signature win, but it’s the best win of anyone not named Vanderbilt in the SEC this week, and Arkansas fans will thank Andy Kennedy and the Rebel Black Bears for helping Arkansas into the 3-seed in the SEC Tournament. Ole Miss could be the Friday opponent for Arkansas, and most teams take some time getting used to the SEC Tournament venue, so Ole Miss might have some advantages over Arkansas after playing the Thursday game.
8) Alabama (17-13, 10-8, RPI: 92) - Hey Alabama! How are you still the 5-seed in the SEC tournament? You only won 4 games since February 1st! I know that Alabama beat Ole Miss, and Tennessee beat Alabama, but this is honestly how it shakes out. I promise you....
9) Tennessee (16-15, 8-10, RPI: 75) - ... because Tennesse lost to LSU. I mean come on. Tennessee is #9, but they are honorary #14. Wow. LSU was historically bad, and had a chance to go 1-17 which would’ve tied their record from 50 years ago in 1967, but NO. Tennessee had to let LSU win. Sad.
10) Texas A&M (16-14, 8-10, RPI: 88) - Billy Kennedy records his worst head coaching record at A&M and his worst season since hist first at Murray State in 2007. The sad thing about this is Kennedy will likely lose Robert Williams to the NBA at the end of this season. You can’t be excited about having a player go to the NBA after this type of season.
11) Auburn (18-13, 7-11, RPI: 93) - J.J. Frazier scored 31 points on his senior night to beat Auburn. Auburn and the other last four will kick-off Wednesday Night Sadness this week in the SEC tourney. Will Pearl’s team be the first to win 5 games in a row and make the NCAA tournament?
12) Mississippi State (15-15, 6-12, RPI: 145) - The Bulldogs break a 7 game losing streaking beating LSU in Starkville.
13) LSU (10-20, 2-16, RPI: 174) - Jones is gonna get fired right? I mean when you’re celebrating your 2nd SEC win in March, you get fired for that.
14) Missouri (7-23, 2-16, RPI: 262) - Kim Anderson resigned yesterday, and rightfully so. It’s impressively bad to have 8 SEC wins in 3 seasons.