Wednesday, March 7, 2018

SEC tournament preview

This is part 28 of a 32-part series.

Auburn 13-5
Tennessee 13-5
Florida 11-7
Arkansas 10-8
Kentucky 10-8
Missouri 10-8
Mississippi St 9-9
Texas A&M 9-9
LSU 8-10
Alabama 8-10
Georgia 7-11
South Carolina 7-11
Vanderbilt 6-12
Ole Miss 5-13

March 7-11.  St Louis is your neutral site host.

1) Auburn vs. 8/9) Texas A&M/Alabama
4) Kentucky vs. 5/12/13) Missouri/Georgia/Vanderbilt
3) Florida vs. 6/11/14) Arkansas/South Carolina/Ole Miss
2) Tennessee vs. 7/10) Mississippi St/LSU

The stakes:
Auburn and Tennessee are two teams with the 2 line (and a probable spot in the Nashville regional) at stake.  The conference tourney takes increased importance for them - being able to plop a title on top of their resume likely gets either to the 2 line, IMO.  Lose and you risk the 4 line.  Pretty high stakes, IMO, given all the western sites will host the 4 seeds.

The SEC in general has been much better with their non-con SoS.  Their fruit will bear major results this year again.  Arkansas, Florida, and Kentucky are in various states on the S-curve, but are all obviously safe (we'll revisit Arky if they lose a dumb game).  I'm inclined to put Texas A&M there too, as they did enough to climb out of the abyss.

The next tier is Missouri.  I have them a step behind the tier of the 4 teams above, but I also think they're safe.  Just don't lose to Georgia/Vandy.

With 7 teams solidly in, the fun starts at Alabama.  Here's a team that's probably the first one in danger.  2 road wins all year is an issue.  Their other metrics are more or less okay though, and they have high end wins (all at home except Florida, naturally).  It's a tough situation to gauge because they did lose a lot of road games to questionable teams.  Even if they had just handled 1 extra one (MSU or Vandy or Ole Miss) that makes all the difference in the world.  If they lose to A&M?  I really don't know what I'm going to do with them.  It's tough to leave a team with wins over Auburn and Tennessee out, but, for example, Oklahoma St carries similar signature wins to the table.  I'm inclined to believe beating A&M would be enough, but maybe not.  In short, I don't have a good read on what the committee will do here.  SoS is strong so maybe leaning in.

Beyond that, Georgia and Mississippi St and even South Carolina are probably too far gone.  If they make a run to the finals, the signature wins that will accompany the run might make them a factor.  But let's not deal with that.  The NIT bubble is a mess with these teams and LSU, by the way.  Good luck figuring those out.

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