Welcome to the final week of the regular season for SEC Men's basketball, before the entire conference (well not the ENTIRE conference) heads down to Nashville to hop on the pedal pubs and make their way to Bridgestone Arena (the well configured arena in Nashville) for the SEC Tournament. But before we can get to that, we've got one final regular season Power Rankings to get to.
This week we've got movement again as some teams are finding their legs while others have had the wheels come completely off and their dreams of March have gone "Poof", just as if they were never there.
Tier 1 has remained three teams strong, however an old friend who many had thought would be at the top of the conference all season has made their way in this final week. Welcome back Vandy, whose decided that they do not wish to go quietly into that good night. Joining Vandy we've got our usual suspects of Kentucky and Texas A&M.
Kentucky remains atop the Power Rankings as they have the past couple weeks after a breaking a two game losing streak, by beating Florida at the O dome on Tuesday, after suffering a double digit loss to suddenly competent Vanderbilt. Kentucky is merely playing for seeding at this point but if they want to avoid dropping out of the top four of the conference will have to take their game with LSU tomorrow quite seriously.
After going through their five game slump, the Aggies have righted their ship by beating up on the lesser teams of the conference and there's nothing that's going to turn your fortunes around than a trip to Columbia MO and a visit by Auburn to get things going again. A&M currently sits in the top spot of the conference, but has a massive game at home tomorrow mid day against fellow tier 1 team Vanderbilt. Win this game and the Aggies are your regular season SEC Champs...let that sink in for a second. Texas A&M...will be SEC Regular Season Champions...in basketball. What a world we live in...
Finally, rounding out Tier 1, welcome Vanderbilt. All season long Vanderbilt fans (and everyone else for that matter) have wondered what exactly was Vandy doing? This team composed of three potential draft picks, a strong supporting cast, a crazy court and sometimes unhinged head coach was supposed to be a top team (along with LSU..HA!) that was going to give some credibility to the conference come March. Which they still can. Vandy, after suffering a buzzer beating loss at State, has put together four wins in a row including wins at Florida and a home win over Kentucky, thus thrusting themselves right back into the conversation for the real tourney. Tomorrow's game against A&M would solidify their spot in the tournament and is the biggest game of the year since the Kentucky game.
Tier 2 is back to a small set of two. And both teams are sliding at exactly the wrong time to be sliding in any direction. South Carolina, the darling of the SEC this entire season has started to falter. The Cocks have suffered losses in three of their last five, coming to not so strong Mizzou, competent but not great State and then last night, losing at home to just ok Georgia. The Gamecocks are still in the tournament by all accounts however, lose tomorrow to an Arkansas team that has won four games in a row, and only get one win in Nashville and you've got the potential of NIT staring you right in the face...and that's gonna make Frank Martin flip out.
Frustrating and maddening LSU join South Carolina in Tier 2 are also playing not their best basketball of the year at this time. They are without Keith Hornsby, Ben Simmons just looks ready to be done with this whole thing and Johnny Jones is still your coach. Things could be better. Luckily for LSU, they had a Tuesday night date with Mizzou that got them their second win in a row after beating Florida last Saturday, and a date with Kentucky upcoming. Listen, everyone wants LSU in the tourney, one more chance to see Ben Simmons on the big stage, but to do so, they're going to have to go into the house that Ashley Judd built and take down a Kentucky team that has a competent Skal playing for it now. Things aren't going to be easy for the Tigers, but get this win, and a couple more in Nashville and we may get to see Ben Simmons flame out in the first round of the NCAA tournament when Johnny Jones uses all of his timeouts at once to get the team Cotton Candy.
Tier three is suddenly full of teams, which probably tells you everything you need to know about the SEC, some good teams, a lot of squishy teams and then the awful.
Leading tier three and beating teams left and right are the Razorbacks of Arkansas. The Hogs have won four straight, and that's really exciting! The Hogs have beaten in those four games, Mizzou, LSU, Tennessee and Alabama...less exciting. Arkansas welcomes reeling South Carolina in their home finale tomorrow, and at this point they're playing to play the role of spoiler. Teams don't win at Bud Walton, hell teams don't win on the road in the SEC, so expect another win for Mike Anderson's team and be ready for people to gush about them in Nashville next week before losing earlier than expected.
Tied with the Hogs for sixth are the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia who's been up and down all season has put together two wins in a row including a surprising upset last night of South Carolina in Columbia East. I'm not sure what this says of the Bulldogs but they've got another game with Alabama tomorrow before heading to Nashville and this could help separate them from the rest of the 9-8, 10-7 and 8-9 teams that are all fighting for seeding.
Coming in eight are the Gators who can no longer beat anyone. The Gators have lost four games in a row, all close to SC, Vandy, LSU and Kentucky. The Gators continue to be a standout defensive team in the conference who can't do squat on offense, just like Mizzou's football team. Speaking of the Tigers, the Gators close their season out tomorrow afternoon with a trip to Columbia West in a game with the last place team in the conference that shouldn't provide the test it eventually will.
Sitting at ninth in the Power Rankings are steady eddy Ole Miss. The Rebels have been pretty consistent this season, winning the easier games at home and faltering on the road. They did get some revenge by beating State and splitting the egg bowl series in basketball this year, and close out the season on the road to UT who is a wildly different team at home than on the road...they're...competent.
Finally rounding out bloated Tier three is the Crimson Tide of Alabama. For a bit there, Alabama was on quite the little run, then they played State and Kentucky and it all kind of fell apart. That's not to take away from Avery Johnson what he's done in year one, it's just that Bama has come back to earth a bit and Sam Snelling is feeling great about it. The Tide close out their season with a trip to Georgia that should help break up the morass that is seeding the SEC tournament at this moment.
Tier four, well tier four still has Mississippi State and Tennessee. Tennessee has been here all year long and like Ole Miss are old reliables. Pencil them in here and move on. The Vols have had a not so great season in year one of the Rick Barnes era, and of late have looked a bit flat in losses to South Carolina, Arkansas and Vandy. But the opportunity is there to take a home win off of Ole Miss this Saturday before heading to Nashville where they showed some life last year, under former coach Donnie Tyndall...whatever happened to that guy?
Also in Tier four are the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. State's been not awful all season and have acquitted themselves quite well in Ben Howland's first season in Starkville, looking positively decent in SEC play since it began in January. State closes out its regular season tomorrow afternoon at home with a visit from Auburn, and looks to build some momentum in Nashville towards season 2 when State should be an interesting team to watch.
Tier 5 is consistent, the Tigers of Auburn and Mizzou continue to lock down the bottom two spots, with neither team looking impressive of late. Auburn is working with one of the weirder lineups you'll see with a 250 lb point guard distributing the ball and Mizzou is still trying to figure out who's going to be good at what on any given night...they're also losing players left and right.
To the Rankings
|Team||Points||Ranking||Ranking Last Week||Change||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|South Carolina||71||4th||3rd||Down 1||3rd||7th|
|Arkansas||55||6th (Tied)||9th||Up 3||5th||10th|
|Georgia||55||6th (Tied)||10th||Up 3||6th||8th|
|Ole Miss||51||9th||7th||Down 2||6th||10th|
|Mississippi State||25||11th||12th||Up 1||11th||13th|
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
This will turn out to be an average season, but it's the kind of average where you put one foot in a live fire and the other in an ice cold bucket of water. What a ride. A terrifying, terrifying ride. (Good Bull Hunting)
Bama is unlikely to make the Big Dance but Avery Johnson has done some remarkable things this year. (College and Magnolia)
When you're sick with #secbasketballfever, one of the symptoms is the chills, and the Tide have gotten cold quick. (Dawg Sports)
Wait, they won two games away from Bud Walton Arena? Huh? (Anchor of Gold)
Arkansas is going to bang another nail into the Tournament Coffin that South Carolina is trying to put itself in right now. (Rock M Nation)
Winners of four straight, I think they handle South Carolina to close the season in the top half. Just like GBH predicted. Don't fact check that, please. (Good Bull Hunting)
They're bad again. And I'll admit, it's nice to watch Bruce Pearl struggle to bring that program to life. (Dawg Sports)
Auburn basketball is fighting hard but lacks the depth to close. (College and Magnolia)
You just know they're gonna make a run to the SEC Tournament finals because the universe wants to screw with us. (Anchor of Gold)
In the off season, the entire Florida team should get together and just watch videos of Steph Curry, hell call JJ Reddick in, but for the love of Teddy Dupay get someone to teach you how to make an outside shot. (Rock M Nation)
Do they even WANT to make the tournament? (Anchor of Gold)
The Gators did pretty well until they got to that pesky "play the good SEC teams" part of the schedule. (Good Bull Hunting)
Hammering a Frank Martin team on the glass IS pretty impressive. (Anchor of Gold)
If they can close out the season with a home win over Bama, their NIT dreams should be OK. Who am I kidding, no one dreams about the NIT (Dawg Sports)
Enjoy it while you can SEC tournament announcers, next week is the last chance you have to make Charles is the MANN jokes. (Rock M Nation)
Injuries be damned, they looked pretty good at Florida. I think they're going to roll LSU by 40. (Good Bull Hunting)
Kentucky is a very close second because they looked great at Florida on Tuesday. (Fox Sports Knoxville)
Still way too schizo to predict what they're going to do in March, I'm not even gonna try. (Anchor of Gold)
Everything is fine as long as they don't have to hit the road again. (Checks schedule). Oh. (Good Bull Hunting)
Ben Simmons was asked Tuesday night if it was his last game of his career at LSU and he smirked...because he knows he'll be right back there in the first round of the NIT. (Rock M Nation)
They've been straddling the bubble line all last month, and a win over Florida may have been a play in game. They're still having reasons to worry, but a win in Lexington would lock them in to a bid. (Dawg Sports)
Has probably done more than anyone else to reduce the number of tournament bids the SEC will get. (Anchor of Gold)
Disappointing season considering the veterans and a high caliber talent in Newman, but we all need one to grow on I guess. (Dawg Sports)
I'm betting Ben Howland quietly sits there and smirks when he sees what's happening at Tennessee and Missouri. (Rock M Nation)
It's almost over. Less than 24 hours, and it'll be over and we can start talking about next year (which will actually be two years from now, and may even be good again!). (Dawg Sports)
Who will draw better this Saturday, Mizzou basketball, or Cardinals or Royals Spring Training games? (Rock M Nation)
Another week, another player leaves the team. (Anchor of Gold)
9-8, with a game on the road in Knoxville? Come on Andy, you know you need that .500 record like a fat fourth grader needs gummy worms. (Dawg Sports)
So, um, what exactly is going to happen when Stefan Moody leaves? (Anchor of Gold)
Moody shouldn't let anyone take a shot in their finale at UT, he's been doing it by himself all year, why stop now? (Rock M Nation)
... you can't lose that game at MSU. You can't. (Good Bull Hunting)
They've spent the last three weeks just daring the Selection Committee to leave them out of the tournament. (Anchor of Gold)
There's smoke rising in Columbia, SC, the ground is trembling and the people are fleeing because Frank Martin's gonna make Pompeii look like a brushfire when he finally loses it at some point this weekend. (Rock M Nation)
They've lost three straight. They just aren't good. (Dawg Sports)
Based on Rick Barnes' comments, we're not sure if Robert Hubbs is actually hurt or if Barnes is just playing a walkon instead for no particular reason. (Anchor of Gold)
Turn down for what? (Rock M Nation)
Texas A&M fought hard over the last few weeks and has every chance to win the SEC. (College and Magnolia)
Holy shit holy shit holy shit one win away from our first conference title in 30 years what's happening how did this happen AUBURN CAN YOU STOP THE DINGING IN YOUR STADIUM WE ARE FREAKING OUT OVER HERE (Good Bull Hunting)
Texas A&M is an easy #3 but past the Aggies, it's a total toss up. (Fox Sports Knoxville)
I almost forgot Vandy was playing basketball this year but they've quietly put together a very nice year. (College and Magnolia)
Since Kevin Stallings complained to the media about players not learning elementary lessons, they haven't lost. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Anchor of Gold)
Back to back road wins and a chance to end the year on a high note with Vandy on top of another 5 straight wins? They may have reheated at the right time. (Dawg Sports)
It's the last weekend of SEC basketball fans, enjoy it because soon it will be gone, and what else in your life is going to be that weird? Enjoy the final Saturday, the madness is almost here...