Here is an abbreviated version of this week's SEC Power Rankings. I wanted to focus on the six teams with legitimate chances at making the NCAA Tournament. Teams like South Carolina and Alabama would need to go on incredible win streaks to get in the conversation.
1. Kentucky (18-0)
The wins keep piling up for the Wildcats. With Texas losing to Kansas State, Kentucky will become the No. 1 team in the country with a win over Arkansas on Saturday. It's amazing how fast John Calipari has rebuilt this team and excited the fan base. The next question is: Can UK run the table in the SEC and go undefeated in the regular season? Let's take a quick look at their remaining games.
Even though Kentucky has a couple rough home games on its schedule (Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Florida), it would be silly to predict a loss at Rupp Arena. Here are their remaining road contests: South Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia.
The only real scary games for Kentucky are @Mississippi State, @Vanderbilt, and @Tennessee. UT and Vandy are both undefeated at home and will put together crazy crowds to get the Wildcats rattled. Tennessee has already defeated Kansas at home, so you know what they are capable of. Vanderbilt always plays well in Memorial and has a distinct home-court advantage with its unique layout. Mississippi State is on a nice roll and will be tough to beat at home.
My guess is that UK will go 30-1, with its sole loss coming in Knoxville or Nashville.
2. Tennessee (15-2)
Speaking of Knoxville, Bruce Pearl decided to reinstate point guard Melvin Goins and guard Cameron Tatum. That was after the Vols knocked off Kansas. Pearl should probably be named Coach of the Year if he can get this team past the Sweet 16.
3. Vanderbilt (14-3)
I think the 'Dores have a lot of potential to close the season on a really strong note. The talent level is there for Vanderbilt to be a Sweet 16 team. The real test comes next week, when the Commodores will play both Tennessee and Kentucky on the road. Those two games will define the ceiling of this team.
4. Mississippi State (15-3)
Great team, but no really fantastic wins to speak of. Only Old Dominion and Ole Miss count as good RPI wins. They also have a glaring bad loss to Rider. Maybe the Bulldogs are better than I think. We'll see.
5. Ole Miss (13-4)
Before Ole Miss played it's in-state rival, I really thought they were the best team in the SEC West. They have beaten and lost against all-around better competition. But the head-to-head result, and losing on your home floor has to count for something, if not everything.
6. Florida (12-5)
The Gators have lost a few too many games, but they have all come against pretty good opponents. Only South Alabama stands out as a really bad defeat. Regardless of competition, Florida needs to put some wins under its belt to make the selection committee take notice. If not, this team is looking toward the NIT again. They have to win @Arkansas tomorrow night to keep up the momentum from the LSU win.