Florida forward Kevarrius Hayes (13) and Kentucky center Edrice Adebayo (3) look to go after a rebound during a game against Kentucky at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Saturday Feb. 4, 2017. The Gators beat Kentucky 88-66
Hoops Hopefuls: 14 agendas as league tourney tips off
As we head to the SEC Tournament, which begins Wednesday night in Nashville, we know that there are locks, bubble teams and the hopeless.
But all 14 teams have something to play for, even if it’s just pride in some cases. We’ll see a lame duck coach in Kim Anderson, a soon-to-be ex-LSU coach in Johnny Jones, the craziness of Bruce Pearl and a coach who used to rent space at the Final Four.
And that’s just the first night.
Here’s what every team is playing for with four key ratings that the NCAA will look at:
Kentucky, No. 1 seed
Records: 26-5, 16-2 SEC.
Ratings: (all ratings are through Sunday’s games): 6 RPI, 7 KenPom, 5 Sagarin, 7 BPI.
The skinny: Last year, Kentucky felt slighted by the committee, which slotted the Wildcats before they won the tournament. John Calipari will complain about the draw again this year, but there isn’t a lot of wiggle room at the top. Best case is a low two with three wins, worst case is a high four with a one-and-done.
Florida, No. 2 seed.
Records: 24-7, 14-4
Ratings: 5 RPI, 6 KenPom, 9 Sagarin, 7 BPI.
The skinny: The ratings will tell you that Florida should be a two seed, but most bracketologists have them at four. Florida is likely playing for Orlando, needing a win to make sure that’s where its regional will be. One win almost guarantees it. It’s unlikely Florida could climb higher than a three even if it wins the tournament.
Arkansas, No. 3 seed
Records: 23-8, 12-6.
Ratings: 26 RPI, 39 KenPom, 39 Sagarin, 44 BPI.
The skinny: Arkansas is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Because of the draw, it doesn’t look like the Hogs can improve their seed line until the semifinals. They are likely doomed to the 8-9 opening-round game.
South Carolina, No. 4 seed.
Records: 22-9, 12-6.
Ratings: 31 RPI, 29 KenPom, 29 Sagarin, 42 BPI.
The skinny: After getting snubbed last year, the Gamecocks shouldn’t have anything to worry about. They are playing for seeding, probably no higher than a seven.
Alabama, No. 5 seed.
Records: 17-13, 10-8.
Ratings: 88 RPI, 64 KenPom, 64 Sagarin, 64 BPI.
The skinny: There doesn’t seem to be a path for the Tide other than winning the tournament. Might need to win one to make sure they get in the NIT.
Ole Miss, No. 6 seed.
Records: 19-12, 10-8.
Ratings: 67 RPI, 77 KenPom, 73 Sagarin, 81 BPI.
The skinny: South Carolina coach Frank Martin wondered out loud last week why nobody was mentioning Ole Miss as an NCAA team. Probably because the Rebels are 5-15 vs. the top 100 in RPI. Get to the final and you’re on the bubble. Otherwise, Ole Miss is a high NIT seed.
Vanderbilt, No. 7 seed.
Records: 17-14, 10-8.
Ratings: 44 RPI, 40 KenPom, 49 Sagarin, 49 BPI.
The skinny: No matter what you hear, Vandy is not getting in without a win on Thursday against Texas A&M and may need to beat Florida a third time.
Georgia, No. 8 seed.
Records: 18-13, 9-9.
Ratings: 49 RPI, 56 KenPom, 53 Sagarin, 69 BPI.
The skinny: The Bulldogs have had some tough losses and swear Yante Maten will be back if they make the tournament. Here’s their chance. All they have to do is beat Tennessee, Kentucky and whoever is in the semifinal. That should do it.
Tennessee, No. 9 seed.
Records: 16-15, 8-10.
Ratings: 73 RPI, 60 KenPom, 66 Sagarin, 66 BPI.
The skinny: Remember when the Vols were a trendy pick to slide into your bracket? That was before they lost a 19-point lead at Starkville and finished the season losing six of their last nine. Tennessee might need a couple of wins just to get in the NIT.
Texas A&M, No. 10 seed.
Records: 16-14, 8-10.
Ratings: 85 RPI, 58 KenPom, 59 Sagarin, 71 BPI.
The skinny: It’s all right in front of the Aggies. Just win four games in four days. Beat Vandy and Florida and we start paying attention. But teams with 15 losses don't make the tournament as a rule.
Auburn, No. 11 seed.
Records: 18-13, 7-11.
Ratings: 95 RPI, 79 KenPom, 76 Sagarin, 83 BPI.
The skinny: Auburn is in with a win or two. In the NIT, that is. With a team so young, that’s not a bad thing.
Mississippi State, No. 12 seed.
Records: 15-15, 6-12.
Ratings: 144 RPI, 95 KenPom, 94 Sagarin, 101 BPI.
The skinny: Anything other than a trip to the semifinal probably ends the Bulldogs season.
LSU, No. 13 seed.
Records: 10-20, 2-16.
Ratings: 170 RPI, 159 KenPom, 143 Sagarin, 183 BPI.
The skinny: Hopefully, LSU’s administration lets Johnny Jones get back to campus before he is let go.
Missouri, No. 14 seed.
Records: 7-23, 6-12.
Ratings: 262 RPI, 169 KenPom … oh, what’s the point?
The skinny: It would be nice for coach Kim Anderson to get one last win at Mizzou.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.
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