Before we get to the breakdown and the snark (that sweet, sweet snark) I have to mention that this weekend the SEC (or most of it) is taking on the entire Big 12 in the third annual Big 12/SEC challenge and there are some FANTASTIC games on the docket. If you've been hiding from college basketball to date, this is the weekend to jump right back in. It's like when Alabama plays Savannah State on some random weekend in November but you know, good. To date, the Big 12 has won both challenges (7-3 and 6-4) in the past two editions, and this year looks to be the toughest to date as the Big 12 is the class of College Basketball right now. To help you out, I've included the matchups, times and TV below so that you can appropriately plan your Saturday.
Also, hey, Big 12, add some more teams so all of the SEC can play, BYU, Cincy, USF and UConn are all just a phone call away. You're telling me USF vs Mizzou wouldn't get some eyes...well, maybe not that, but South Carolina vs UConn would be fantastic.
|Home Team||Away Team||Time (Central)||TV|
|Florida||#9 West Virginia||11:00 AM||ESPN|
|Kansas State||Ole Miss||1:00 PM||ESPNU|
|#5 Texas A&M||#14 Iowa State||1:00 PM||ESPN|
|Arkansas||Texas Tech||3:00 PM||ESPNU|
|LSU||#1 Oklahoma||4:00 PM||ESPN|
|#17 Baylor||Georgia||5:00 PM||ESPN2|
|#4 Kansas||#20 Kentucky||6:00 PM||ESPN|
|Auburn||Oklahoma State||7:00 PM||ESPN2|
Sure there are some clunkers in there, but you could easily navigate the day without having to watch them, hop from Florida/WVU to A&M/Iowa State, to an appetizer of Arkansas/Tech before jumping into Ben vs Buddy in LSU/OU and finish up your day with KU and UK in a battle of the evil overlords of both conferences.
Enough of that for now, to the Tiers!
Tier 1 is back at four strong after, with A&M still leading, though their lead has shrank a bit on the revitalized Wildcats of Kentucky (that's what Mizzou will do for you.)
The Aggies went into Bud Walton and lost in a foul fest that you expect to see when you play a Mike Anderson team on the road. Lots of touch falls and dubious charge calls that anywhere else probably wouldn't have gone the way they did. They face a stiff task this weekend with Iowa State, though ISU isn't the same team away from Hilton as they are there, so this could be a signature win for the Aggs.
Kentucky meanwhile has gotten hot, they beat up on a sad Mizzou squad and get their biggest test to date as they head to Lawrence to take on the top 5 Jayhawks. In Bill Self's thirteen year run as headcoach he's only lost 9 times at the Phog, NINE! Cal's got something similar going at Rupp, where he's only lost four, but this game isn't being played in the Bluegrass state.
South Carolina falls to third after a loss on the road to Tennessee this past weekend and a less than stellar win over Mississippi State at home. It appears the shine could be coming off the rose that has been SC's season to date. Not to discount what they've done, but they're giving our voters a reason to doubt them, and our voters are jumping all over that chance.
Rounding out Tier 1 are the Tigers of LSU. LSU has taken care of business of late beating Alabama and Georgia in close contests, but when you're trying to claw your way back to the conversation, a win is a win is a win. Tomorrow they have their biggest game of the season when the number 1 team in the country comes calling and the Ben vs Buddy matchup will be must see TV.
Tier 2 is shrinking again, and continues to house the Gators of Florida who just can't seem to get over the hump to Tier 1. Vanderbilt continues to make up ground now that they're healthy as well and have started to look like the team many thought they would be at the start of the season. This past week, Florida spanked Auburn, and then lost to the aforementioned Commodores while Vandy took a beating at Kentucky, and then beat Florida.
Both teams face tough games tomorrow and then face off with Arkansas (for Florida) and A&M (for Vandy) following their Big 12 dalliance.
Tier 3 like Tier 2 has done some downsizing, now composing of only Georgia and Arkansas, who like our teams in Tier 2 faced off this week. Georgia was the winner in that home contest in a game that went to Overtime. The Dawgs then fell at LSU, where many teams have fallen, so not too bad a sign, but more an opportunity missed. Meanwhile Arkansas, as stated above lost to Georgia but then beat formerly undefeated SEC leaders Texas A&M. For those that did not see the game, it was ugly and not worth watching. Some calls were...dubious to say the least. In their Big 12 games tomorrow, Georgia gets top 20 team Baylor who sits tied with OU, KU, and ISU atop the standings. Arkansas for its game gets Texas Tech who is quietly having a nice season who have only taken losses to top 50 KenPom teams, and who do a lot of things well. This is an under the radar game that should get some attention.
Tier 4...well Tier 4 is kind of a mess. It's the Tier where the teams that are ok go to dwell. Ole Miss "headlines" this group and while they did have a home win over fellow Tier 4 team Auburn, they did prove to be Mississippi State's first SEC win of the season, granted sans Moody, but still, State had been defeated in SEC play to that point.
On the other side of things we've got easily the most confounding team in the entire conference, Tennessee. The Vols beat South Carolina (GOOD!) and then lost to Alabama (NOT GOOD!) all in the same week. With Punter they've always got a shot, but to say this team is mercurial would be an understatement. Honestly, if they were to lose to TCU tomorrow, would anyone be surprised?
For their part, Bama lost a close game to LSU and then beat UT. Bama I get, it's a young team and they're not doing anything other young teams with a new coach don't do. This is comforting Bama, I thank you. Their reward, no Big 12 challenge, welcome to the world of being the uninvited. Finally Auburn, the walking wounded Tigers got beat twice this past week, once by Florida in a bit of a beating and then by Ole Miss. Both games roadies, so that can be forgiven, but that Kentucky game just looks weirder and weirder.
Finally we've got Tier 5. Welcome back Tier 5, your special brand of basketball was missed. Tier 5 is where State and Mizzou have been swapping spots for the past couple weeks. After State's win over Ole Miss and Mizzou's complete and total annihilation at Kentucky, they flip flop again. Lucky for our voters and all the viewers at home, State and Mizzou face off tomorrow at Mizzou Arena. Good luck State and Mizzou fans...you have the conference's sympathy.
|Team||Points||Ranking||Ranking Last Week||Change||Highest Ranking||Lowest Ranking|
|South Carolina||83||3rd||2nd||Down 1||2nd||4th|
|Ole Miss||38||9th||8th (Tied)||Down 1||9th||11th|
|Auburn||28||12th||8th (Tied)||Down 4||9th||13th|
|Mississippi State||12||13th||14th||Up 1||12th||14th|
Points were distributed 1st = 14, 2nd = 13, 3rd = 12, 4th = 11, 5th = 10, 6th = 9, 7th = 8, 8th = 7, 9th = 6, 10th = 5, 11th = 4, 12th = 3, 13th = 2, and 14th = 1
Two solid home efforts (close loss against LSU, win over Tennessee) have the Tide holding on for dear life. (Good Bull Hunting)
Their nice wins can't make up for a rising number of ugly losses. (Dawg Sports)
Gift wins are still wins. (Anchor of Gold)
You know the old saying, the reffs swallowed their whistles? Well in the win over A&M, the reffs barfed them all over the place. (Rock M Nation)
Texas A&M got sloppy and Arkansas got lucky. It's like my granddad always said, "even a blind hog finds a win against Texas A&M sometimes." (College and Magnolia)
Look at the box scores from their home and road games against A&M and tell me Bud Walton Arena isn't haunted. (Anchor of Gold)
Back-to-back road beatings have destroyed any momentum Pearl might have built. (Good Bull Hunting)
Forget Tigers, War Eagles, and Plainsmen. Y'all should call us the opossums because we're dead on the road. (College and Magnolia)
I'm starting to think Calipari had his team purposefully lose to Auburn as some sort of motivational tool, I mean look what Auburn's done since, it doesn't add up. (Rock M Nation)
RPI seems to think a lot higher of the Gators than the rest of us, which should mean good things for their bubble provided they can win another 6 or 7 games. (Dawg Sports)
Can you imagine how good Dorian Finney-Smith would be if his team had another offensive threat? (Anchor of Gold)
The Gators learned how to shoot. With the recent loss at Vandy notwithstanding, scoring has not been a problem. (Good Bull Hunting)
If Georgia wants to make a case for something a bit shinier than the NIT, the next two weeks provides plenty of opportunities...fail on that and the NIT is no guarantee. (Rock M Nation)
Whose got two thumbs and is excited about the NIT? Damned if I know, but it ain't this guy. (Dawg Sports)
Yep, they're still .500 in conference play because of course they are. (Anchor of Gold)
Kentucky has looked much more cohesive in their last couple of games, unfortunately, they have to go play Kansas on Saturday. (Fox Sports Knoxville)
The Cats have clamped down on defense. I don't expect them to win at Kansas, but the schedule breaks nicely for them afterwards. (Good Bull Hunting)
I'm not still not huge on SEC solidarity just yet, but damn if I won't be screaming like Ashley Judd for Big Blue tomorrow night. #WeAreAllKentucky (Rock M Nation)
I have LSU 3rd for now by virtue of their head to head win over Kentucky but it wouldn't surprise me if they went 0-2 this week hosting #1 Oklahoma and traveling to Auburn. (College and Magnolia)
LSU is still a strange team but they have been more consistent lately. (Fox Sports Knoxville)
Things are starting to settle in nicely around Simmons for a team that has the talent to make noise in March. (Dawg Sports)
Are you ready for Saturday's "Showdown for the Cellar" (patent pending)? (Dawg Sports)
I can't tell the difference between Mizzou and Miss State so Miss State stays 14 by virtue of their loss to UMKC. (College and Magnolia)
They won a game! ... Against Ole Miss's backups, but whatever. (Anchor of Gold)
If they want to salvage this season, they HAVE to go 2-0 this week (MSU and Ole Miss at home). (Good Bull Hunting)
I equate Mizzou not being invited to the SEC-Big 12 challenge to two parents fighting over who has to clean their baby's diaper and just decided, screw it, let little Timmy stew in it for a while. (Rock M Nation)
Was showing some signs of life, and then they went to Rupp Arena. (Anchor of Gold)
Collapse commenced. Who could have seen this coming? (Dawg Sports)
They had been in an absolute tailspin, but they finally nabbed a home win over Auburn. Sadly, I am way too familiar with the idea of underwhelming losses in a shiny new stadium. (Good Bull Hunting)
Auburn and Mizzou on the schedule in the same week, looks like someone is going to get better. (Rock M Nation)
I'm selling South Carolina. They play five games against middle and upper tier SEC teams before facing Mizzou again. I doubt they win more than two of these games. (College and Magnolia)
That Tennessee game was never really in doubt in the second half, which is a little disturbing. (Anchor of Gold)
We'll find out who South Carolina is soon enough. After their next game, the next four get dicey in a hurry (@Georgia, @A&M, LSU, Kentucky). (Good Bull Hunting)
At least, unlike Auburn, Rick Barnes can still sell the hope of what'll happen once he has time to start recruiting. (Dawg Sports)
9 points in 14 minutes wouldn't sound so bad if this were football. (Anchor of Gold)
A Tennessee game is a lot like a roller coaster ride, up and down, side to side, and at the end of it you disoriented, wobbly and just a little nauseous. (Rock M Nation)
If it bleeds, we can kill it. Well, not us, but a competent basketball team. (College and Magnolia)
The run had to end at some point. It was a fun six weeks, but A&M is now staring down the barrel of their toughest seven game stretch of the season (culminating with Kentucky). If you offered me 1-1 this week (Iowa State, @Vandy), I'd take it. (Good Bull Hunting)
Texas A&M finally dropped an SEC game to Arkansas, but that was bound to happen. (Fox Sports Knoxville)
This is a speculative ranking, and assumes they can knock off Texas on the weekend to get a big win and build momentum going into the last month of the season. (Dawg Sports)
That's two subpar offensive performances in a row. But at least Florida's offense was even worse. (Anchor of Gold)
4-1 in their last five, with the only loss coming at Kentucky. The ship is back on course. And other nautical metaphors. (Good Bull Hunting)
And that's that, another week, another week of the weird in the SEC. Tomorrow's games should be fantastic, so be sure to give them a look, you won't regret it. Clear your Saturday, find something to drink and get comfortable, it's gonna be a fantastic day of basketball.
Enjoy the games all!