Last week, I broke down all of the conference’s teams into groups – those who are contending for double-byes; the logjam in the middle; and the conference cellar.
As these things tend to happen, it all went to crap within a matter of days. Teams lost games they shouldn’t, and new teams emerged into the conference races. With that being said, I’m going to group them again, and we’ll hope they decide to act right this weekend.
*spoiler alert – I eliminated the middle tier group.
1) Auburn 3) Florida 5) Alabama 7) Missouri
2) Tennessee 4) Kentucky 6) Mississippi State 8) Texas A&M
Auburn has been the SEC’s best team in 2018. Auburn is 9-2 in the conference and 21-3 over the year. They also have a head-to-head win over their closest competition – Tennessee. Speaking of those Volunteers, they completed a season sweep of Kentucky, effectively distancing themselves from the pack. Tennessee and Auburn are in a fight for the conference crown, while the rest of the teams are bickering over the final two double-byes.
Florida and Kentucky are both uber-talented, but neither has been able to find the needed consistency. Alabama has been the epitome of inconsistency, too. They beat top-ten teams, but lose to the Ole Miss of the world. But they have a consensus lottery pick, and those guys don’t just grow on trees.
Mississippi State makes the jump from 8 to 6 as they continue their hot streak with a win over Alabama. Mississippi State split the season series with the Crimson Tide, a surefire tournament team at this point. Missouri and A&M also jumped up a group by continuing their winning ways – both are riding a three-game winning streak. As of now, it is easy to conceive any of these eight (8!) teams obtaining the vaunted double-bye. Teams 4-7 all have the same record, while team 8 (Texas A&M) is but a game behind.
Race to Avoid Opening Night of the Sec Tournament
9) Arkansas 11) South Carolina 13) Ole Miss
10) LSU 12) Georgia 14) Vanderbilt
Now, only one of these teams – Vanderbilt – has truly stunk in 2018, but the rest are in a never-ending battle to not finish below tenth in the conference – 11 through 14 play on opening night in St.Louis. Arkansas can explode and score 90 at any moment, and LSU has been able to beat multiple teams ranked above them, as have Georgia and South Carolina. Ole Miss, I don’t envision any scenario other than their season continuing to spiral downwards. They have uncertainty surrounding their coach and no chance at making the NCAA tournament. At least Vanderbilt has a good recruiting class as of now?