Good wins. Good losses. RPI-killers. With basically four weeks left before conference play begins, it is an important time to take a look at the NCAA Tournament resumes of SEC teams. You better believe coaches are doing the same as we speak. Let's break done the status of each team's NCAA Tournament hopes. While a lot can happen inside conference play, the selection committee puts a great emphasis on OOC play. Teams have to maximize their chances, and as we'll see, it may be too late for some.
Sittin' Pretty: Florida
The Michigan State win was huge for the Gators. Tom Izzo's crew will most likely compete with Ohio State for the Big Ten crown as well as a No. 1 seed come March. While this has been the marquee win for the SEC to date, don't discount Florida's win over in-state rival FSU. The Seminoles' RPI will provide the Gators a nice boost assuming they can finish in the top half of the ACC. Florida (7-0) has important games coming up with Syracuse, Richmond, and at NC State. Barring something catastrophic, the Gator resume is pretty solid.
Feelin' Good, But Work To Do: Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky
Vanderbilt has some pretty decent wins against Arizona and Mizzou. Arizona will compete for a conference championship in a down Pac-10 this year, and Mizzou will most likely finish in the top third of the Big 12. The loss to Cincinnati isn't going to hurt Vandy at this point. That coupled with an upcoming game against DePaul leaves the Commodores poised for another shot at the Big Dance.
Tennessee doesn't have a huge win to hang their hat on. While beating DePaul is a nice win, the Vols lost there only other important game to date (Purdue). No shame there. What has Bruce Pearl's squad feeling good this the fact they have two big game coming up (@ Memphis, Kansas). Assuming they at least split those game, their RPI will continue to be a big plus for them.
What can we say about Kentucky? They are undefeated, but have played what equates to a JUCO schedule thus far. The Wildcats are in this category for two reasons: 1) They have the hype, talent and national attention to "woo" the selection committee, and more importantly, 2) they have several chances to prove themselves with upcoming games against North Carolina, Connecticut, and Louisville.
It's Now or Never: South Carolina, Ole Miss, Alabama, Miss State, LSU, Georgia
South Carolina has a good win against South Florida but the RPI help from that win will only last til USF enters Big East play. The Miami loss isn't going to hurt the Gamecocks, but at the moment they need games that help them. Road games at Clemson and Boston College are going to have a huge impact on their resume.
Ole Miss beat what is turning out to be a surprisingly good Kansas State team. Losing to Villanova on a neutral court might even help the RPI. With no bad losses, the Rebels have chance to solidify themselves as a legit tournament team with game against predicted C-USA champ UTEP, and a road game at West Virginia.
Alabama is an interesting case. They don't necessarily have that marquee win (although Michigan and Baylor are decent). Likewise, the losses don't seem too bad either (Florida St. and Cornell). What really helps the Tide is getting a chance to play teams with good RPIs in Purdue and Kansas State.
Miss State is another team that makes you scratch your head. They dont have any good wins. Take into account an ok loss to Richmond and a bad loss to Rider and the Bulldog's appear to be in trouble. What's keeping Rick Stansbury's club alive at the moment is an upcoming came with current RPI-giant, DePaul, and the fact that the NCAA tends to take into account roster situations. The eligibility of Renardo Sidney has yet to play out, and freshman big man John Riek is getting ready to make his season debut. Those two guys have MSU a completely different team. Stay tuned...
You might ask yourself, "How is Georgia on this list?" They have one bad loss (UAB) and one terrible loss (Wofford). The Bulldog's do, however, have three big games coming up that could negate and even outweigh those losses. Road games are worth a lot in the eyes of the selection committee and UGA has 3 of them (@St. John, @ Virginia Tech, @Missouri)
Fat Lady's Warming Up: Auburn, Arkansas
We might as well address these two together, as they are both in the same boat. Neither has any wins to brag about. Both have some TERRIBLE losses. The only upcoming games that could make a difference are @FSU (Auburn) and Texas (Arkansas). Barring a miracle in conference play, these two teams look to be done.
As always, any team can make a run in conference play. Playing your way into the NCAA Tournament with a gaudy conference record is always an option. However, the tried and true path has always been to get quailty wins and avoid bad losses. For most of the SEC, it's now or never.