SEC Basketball Status Update

Kurt Wirth@Kurt_WirthCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2010

There's only a couple of weeks left in the SEC hoops schedule, and we're going to be assessing the postseason outlook for each team—again—but also predicting choices for SEC awards.

Two things are going to up the conference's chances of getting five or six teams into the NCAA Tournament.

First, the A-10 and Big East are eliminating their own left and right. The leagues probably have too much parody, and the little guys are toppling bubble teams seemingly every day.

Before several upsets on Saturday, the A-10 had dropped from seven probables to three probables and the Big East is down to about five probables.

Secondly, the Pac-10 is beyond awful.

Did you think the SEC was down last year? The SEC still finished sixth nationally last season, last among the BCS leagues.

Thus far this year, the Pac-10 is ranked ninth behind the Mountain West, A-10, and Missouri Valley. In a down year, the SEC managed two at-large bids and a third automatic bid. The Pac-10 will join the many one-bid leagues this year without an upset run through the conference tournament by one of the many teams refusing to take the regular-season title.

Both of these factors mean more spots will be available for bubble teams. Coincidentally, the SEC has several of those very things.

Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee are in. Florida, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss are all still sweating it out on the bubble. With the extra spots available, it's not a stretch to think all three bubble teams will hear their names called on Selection Sunday.


League Recap

Barring a complete collapse, Kentucky has won the SEC regular-season title, including the SEC Eastern division.

The West is more interesting.

An Arkansas team that entered SEC play at 7-8 is tied with a Mississippi State team that was supposed to contend for the SEC title at 7-5 in conference play.

Ole Miss, who was supposed to challenge MSU for the Western division, stands third at 5-7 and is going to need a miracle to vie for the division.

Both the 'Backs and 'Dawgs have a fairly tough schedule remaining and the Rebels' is very soft, so it should be an entertaining next couple of weeks for the West.

Here's a recap of each team thus far, and what's ahead.


Alabama (14-12, 4-8)

RPI: 103rd (minus-8), Kenpom: 70th  (plus-4), Sagarin: 81st (plus-1)
Record in last 10 games: 3-7
Record in last five games: 1-4

The Crimson Tide are in a major slump, and are going to struggle to make .500 this year. Grant has done a good job with this team, but there's just not enough depth to compete regularly yet.


Arkansas (14-13, 7-5)

RPI: 126th (minus-12), Kenpom: 92nd (zero), Sagarin: 105th (plus-2)
Record in last 10 games: 6-4
Record in last five games: 3-2

The Razorbacks are probably the league's biggest surprise, and have a real shot at upsetting Mississippi State for the Western division title.

A trip to LSU should be a win, but Vanderbilt and Ole Miss at home. as well as a game in Knoxville will all be tough outs. Unfortunately, a good SEC record with an RPI in the 120's won't be enough to get the 'Backs into the postseason, regardless of any title.

Auburn (12-14, 4-8)

RPI: 144th (plus-6), Kenpom: 102nd (plus-4), Sagarin: 120th (plus-4)
Record in last 10 games: 4-6
Record in last five games: 2-3

Auburn has been competitive despite their record and RPI, but this season will be effectively scrapped. So will Lebo.


Florida (19-8, 8-4)

RPI: 53rd (plus-8), Kenpom: 50th (plus-4), Sagarin: 43rd (plus-3)
Record in last 10 games: 7-3
Record in last five games: 3-2

The Gators are fighting for an NCAA bid, and as of today it's safely theirs.

However, the final two weeks are going to be brutal for Donovan's squad. Tennessee and Vanderbilt both visit Gainesville, each could easily be losses.  Then the team travels to Georgia and Kentucky. Without a win in at least one of those home games, Florida may very well play itself out of the NCAA's.

Georgia (12-13, 4-8)

RPI: 88th (plus-3), Kenpom: 86th (plus-2), Sagarin: 89th (plus-4)
Record in last 10 games: 4-6
Record in last five games: 3-2

Georgia has had a successful season by most every account.

An RPI of 88th, compared to last year's RPI of 192nd, is a phenomenal improvement. Several major upsets, even more close calls, and all of this for a team who is severely lacking on depth and talent. Fox has proven he's the real deal and is set to do big things in Athens in years to come.

No. 2 Kentucky (26-1, 11-1)

RPI: second (plus-3), Kenpom: seventh (plus-3), Sagarin: fourth (plus-1)
Record in last 10 games: 9-1
Record in last five games: 5-0

The Wildcats have proven me right while simultaneously proving me wrong all season.

They don't play like an elite team, are seemingly very beatable, and have many weaknesses. However, they aren't losing like I predicted. No matter the opponent, Cousins, Wall, and company simply refuse to lose (at least until matched up with an opponent like Downey who wanted to win more).

Can Calipari really win his first national title? I don't think so, not even for a second. I have, however, been wrong on this team all year, so nothing would surprise me.

LSU (9-17, 0-12)

RPI: 217th (minus-4), Kenpom: 196th (plus-3), Sagarin: 196th (plus-2)
Record in last 10 games: 0-10
Record in last five games: 0-5

The Tigers are in the middle of an absolutely epic losing streak.

Even for a bad team, a 12-game stretch without a win is incredibly rare, especially for a BCS program. In fact, the Tigers have won only one game in their last 16 contests.

With last year's impressive outing and this year's immense failure, just how good of a coach is Trent Johnson?

Mississippi State (19-8, 7-5)

RPI: 63rd (minus-6), Kenpom: 44th (minus-5), Sagarin: 53rd (minus-4)
Record in last 10 games: 5-5
Record in last five games: 3-2

The Bulldogs had some stripes cost them a massive win against second-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday, but are showing signs of life when it counts...a Stansbury trademark.

MSU's final four games are more favorable than those of Arkansas and the Bulldogs stand as the favorite to take the West. Trips to South Carolina and Auburn are both winnable, and home games against Alabama and Tennessee should yield at least one win.

Ole Miss (17-9, 5-7)

RPI: 60th (minus-15), Kenpom: 48th (minus-6), Sagarin: 49th (minus-12)
Record in last 10 games: 4-6
Record in last five games: 1-4

The Rebels are coming up short against the SEC's top-tier squads and are beginning to play themselves out of the Big Dance. Ole Miss effectively needs to win its four remaining games to ensure themselves a good shot, and that won't be easy.

Home tilts against LSU and Auburn should be W's, but road trips to Alabama and Arkansas will be tougher.

South Carolina (14-12, 5-7)

RPI: 81st (minus-9), Kenpom: 82nd (minus-4), Sagarin: 73rd (minus-1)
Record in last 10 games: 3-7
Record in last five games: 1-4

Has there been a more disappointing SEC team in the past two years than South Carolina? Horn has been well short of impressive in his first two years at the helm, as USC was expected to compete with Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida for the East's second-place spot preseason.

Instead, it will be missing the postseason.


No. 20 Tennessee (20-6, 8-4)

RPI: 18th (plus-3), Kenpom: 27th (plus-4), Sagarin: 16th (plus-4)
Record in last 10 games: 6-4
Record in last five games: 3-2

The Vols are peaking at the right time, but have some tough games down the stretch. Trips to Florida and Mississippi State should yield at least one loss while Kentucky and Arkansas at home are both winnable. Tennessee should receive a solid NCAA seed.

No. 17 Vanderbilt (19-6, 9-3)

RPI: 12th (plus-4), Kenpom: 26th (plus-4), Sagarin: 18th (plus-3)
Record in last 10 games: 7-3
Record in last five games: 3-2

Look no further for a Final Four darkhorse. The 'Dores have been quietly putting together one of the better campaigns in the country, and could be pretty potent in the Big Dance. If Kentucky manages to stumble a couple of times, a tie for the SEC regular-season title isn't out of the question.


Here are some predictions. Keep in mind, though, that my predictions for awards aren't necessarily my PICKS for those awards, as I tend to vary from the media a good bit. I'll be posting my picks after the regular-season ends. They should stir a lot of controversy, so be sure to stay tuned.


SEC Winners

SEC Regular-season winner: Kentucky (14-2)
SEC Eastern division winner: Kentucky (14-2)
SEC Western division winner: Mississippi State (10-6)

SEC Tournament winner: Vanderbilt

SEC Player of the year: John Wall, UK
SEC Freshman of the year: John Wall, UK
SEC Coach of the year: John Calipari, UK


SEC First-Team

John Wall, UK
DeMarcus Cousins, UK
Jarvis Varnado, MSU
Devan Downey, USC
Tasmin Mitchell, LSU


SEC Second-Team

Trey Thompkins, UGA
Chris Warren, OM
Rotnei Clarke, ARK
Patrick Patterson, UK
Marshawn Powell, ARK


NCAA Tournament Bids

Kentucky (one)
Vanderbilt (three)
Tennessee (four)
Mississippi State (nine)
Florida (nine)
Ole Miss (11)


NIT Bids



Don't forget to follow me personally @HoopsKnowItAll to get thoughts and comments throughout the week!


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