SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Another shake-up at No. 1 and a logjam for the No. 4 seed
It’s shaping up to be an exciting final week in the SEC, as a whopping five teams are tied for the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament.
With two games remaining, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Auburn and Florida all have 9-7 records in conference play. That’s an incredible feat, but it’s an important seed to win.
That’s because the No. 4 seed will get a double-bye in the SEC Tournament next week, while the other four teams will have to play an extra game. That makes the closing stretch critical and exciting for fans to watch.
Oh, and there’s a tie for first, too — Tennessee and LSU are in position to win the regular season title, with Kentucky lurking one game back.
That said, here’s how the Power Rankings look entering the final week of the regular season:
1. Tennessee (26-3 overall, 14-2 in SEC, Last week: 3)
The Vols have been atop these rankings for most of the season, but they fell all the way to No. 3 after a loss at LSU last weekend. Then, they bounced back with a big win at Ole Miss (in controversial fashion) and dominated Kentucky in Knoxville on Saturday.
This team has only lost to ranked opponents (and ranked in the top 15, no less), all away from Knoxville. But, on Saturday, they showed what they can do when they’re not playing true road games. And, I can’t stop watching this Jordan Bone highlight, where he torches Ashton Hagans after Hagans slaps the floor:
The Vols can win a share of the SEC regular season title if they win out (assuming LSU wins out, too) against Mississippi State and at Auburn. However, they’ll need the Tigers to slip up if they want the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament.
2. LSU (24-5, 14-2, Last week: 2)
With two games to go, the Tigers control their fate in the SEC race. They hold the tiebreaker over Tennessee for the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament and would win a share of the regular-season title if they win out.
Their schedule is favorable, as they’ll get a chance to avenge a loss to Florida (and the Gators just lost at home to Georgia, so they’re vulnerable). They also finish the year with a home game against Vanderbilt, which should be a nice tuneup for the tourney.
Now, they just need to stop posterizing each other (just kidding, this is a heck of a play):
Is it still a poster if you get your own teammate?
Kavell Bigby-Williams gets a slam over Naz Reid because both are crashing the glass relentlessly. pic.twitter.com/OUJIV2NCW7
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) February 27, 2019
3. Kentucky (24-5, 13-3, Last week: 1)
Yes, the Wildcats got blown out in Knoxville last weekend, but that performance shouldn’t hurt them too much. Adding to their struggles was the fact that they were still without big man Reid Travis.
Want to see how much that affects this team? Look no further than this clip from last week’s game against Arkansas:
Unreal possession and athleticism by Daniel Gafford. Once, two, three, four times he goes through Nick Richards and PJ Washington to keep the poss. alive and finish with a basket. pic.twitter.com/FA0HIAe00C
— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) March 4, 2019
There’s no official update on Travis, but the original diagnosis had him returning in time for the postseason. If he’s back, the Cats should be one of the favorites to win the SEC Tournament. If not, they could struggle against the SEC’s top teams.
4. Auburn (20-9, 9-7, Last week: 8)
As the only 9-7 SEC team on a winning streak, I’ll give the Tigers the benefit of the doubt this week. A Saturday win over Mississippi State was just what this team needed to boost its confidence.
Bryce Brown found his shooting stroke again, scoring 24 points and making 5-of-8 3-point attempts:
Bryce Brown off the screen pic.twitter.com/T9VKoj5wld
— Power of Dixieland (@PwrofDixieland) March 2, 2019
He’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy, though. He can also put the ball on the floor and get to the rim:
— Power of Dixieland (@PwrofDixieland) March 2, 2019
A road trip to Alabama and a home game against Tennessee will close out the season for the Tigers, so we’ll see if they can navigate that tough path to the No. 4 seed.
5. Mississippi State (21-8, 9-7, Last week: 5)
The Bulldogs could have taken command of the No. 4 spot with a win at Auburn on Saturday, but they fell 80-75. Quinndary Weatherspoon and Reggie Perry continue to dominate, but Nick Weatherspoon’s absence is affecting the team.
Now, they face a road trip to Tennessee and a home game against Texas A&M to finish the regular season. That seems like a likely 1-1 record, which probably won’t be enough to claim the No. 4 seed and earn the double-bye.
6. Ole Miss (19-10, 9-7, Last week: 4)
It was a rough week for the Rebels, who fell in controversial fashion against Tennessee, causing fans to throw trash on the court. They followed that with a disappointing loss at Arkansas on Saturday.
Still, they’re playing some exciting basketball, as evidenced by this incredible dunk from Terence Davis:
The Rebels play host to Kentucky on Tuesday night before ending the regular season at Mizzou. A 1-1 record in those games may not be enough to land the coveted No. 4 spot in the standings.
7. Florida (17-12, 9-7, Last week: 7)
Losing at home to Georgia was horrible, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Instead of being in the driver’s seat for the No. 4 seed, the Gators are staring a 9-9 conference record in the face.
That’s because their final two regular-season games are at home vs. LSU and at Kentucky. That’s the toughest remaining schedule of the 9-7 teams, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them lose both. That would be a disappointing finish for a team that looked like it was starting to put everything together as recently as last week.
8. South Carolina (14-15, 9-7, Last week: 6)
The wheels are falling off down the stretch, and injuries have played a large part in that. Without freshman G A.J. Lawson, the Gamecocks lost in embarrassing fashion at Mizzou on Saturday.
Star big man Chris Silva was held without a rebound for the first time in two years in the loss. Still, with games at Texas A&M and vs. Georgia remaining, 11-7 isn’t out of the question for Frank Martin’s squad.
9. Alabama (17-12, 8-8, Last week: 9)
This is going to be an interesting week. After beating South Carolina and losing to LSU last week, the Tide still could claim the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament (though it’s a long shot, at best). First, though, they need to win out against Auburn at home and at Arkansas.
These two games will also be important for the Tide’s NCAA Tournament resume. Lose both, and they’re probably out. Go 1-1 with an early loss in the SEC tourney and they’re probably out. Win both, and they’ll likely be sitting pretty come Selection Sunday.
10. Arkansas (15-14, 6-10, Last week: 11)
The Razorbacks snapped a 6-game losing streak with a surprising win over Ole Miss on Saturday, but it was likely too little, too late for Mike Anderson’s squad. Now, all they can do is try to hold off Texas A&M for the final bye in the SEC Tournament.
Games at Vanderbilt and at home against Alabama to end the season should be winnable, but this club has been so unreliable in conference play that anything could happen.
11. Texas A&M (13-15, 6-10, Last week: 10)
The Aggies picked up another win last week, knocking off Vanderbilt at home. However, the Commodores jumped out to an 11-0 lead and forced A&M to come back. The Aggies have won 5 of their past 7 games, so South Carolina and Mississippi State will need to take them seriously this week.
Another upset could mean a bye in the SEC Tournament as the No. 10 seed, so the Aggies should be motivated to pull off one more upset.
12. Mizzou (13-15, 4-12, Last week: 12)
The Tigers snapped a 4-game losing streak against South Carolina on Saturday, dominating the Gamecocks in a 15-point victory. This team isn’t going to avoid a first-round game in the SEC Tournament, but it does have the potential to get to Nashville and win a couple of games.
This week, we might get a preview of the potential 12-13 matchup, as the Tigers travel to Georgia on Wednesday night. Will they compete, or will they go down to the dangerous Dawgs?
13. Georgia (11-18, 2-14, Last week: 13)
The Bulldogs have been on the verge of a breakthrough victory, and on Saturday they got it against Florida, snapping a 9-game losing streak and a 13-game SEC losing streak. It was a huge win in Gainesville, and it was just what Tom Crean needed in his first year as head coach in Athens.
Nic Claxton was stellar, scoring a game-high 25 points against the Gators. The Dawgs finish the regular season at home against Mizzou and at South Carolina. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them win both games.
14. Vanderbilt (9-20, 0-16, Last week: 14)
The Commodores once again failed to pick up a conference victory, even after jumping out to an 11-0 lead against Texas A&M on Saturday. It seems likely that they’ll finish 0-18 this year, as their final two games are home against Arkansas and at LSU.
For a team that had NCAA Tournament hopes before the season, the season can’t end soon enough.