With one game to go for each of the 14 SEC squads, there is still so much at stake heading into the final Saturday of the regular season.
In fact, of the 14 teams, only two have no chance of hurting or helping their seeding. This has been a crazy year of basketball, so it’s only fitting to have the SEC Tournament standings come down to some wild tiebreakers.
Per the SEC’s website, the way 2-way tiebreakers are determined is:
- Won-lost results of head-to-head competition between the two teams.
- Won-lost record of the two teams versus the No. 1 seed (and proceeding through the No. 14 seed, if necessary).
- Coin flip by the Commissioner.
Meanwhile, 3-way tiebreakers (or more) are determined by:
- Best winning percentage of games played among the tied teams (Example: Team A is 3-1, Team B is 2-2 and Team C is 1-3 – Team A would be seeded highest, Team B second-highest and Team C lowest of the three).
- Best winning percentage of the tied teams versus the No. 1 seed (and proceeding through the No. 14 seed, if necessary).
- If two teams remain, coin flip by the Commissioner.
- If three or more teams remain, draw by the Commissioner.
Got all that? Yeah, it’s crazy. And some of it can’t be determined yet, because we don’t know which teams will be the 4-10 seeds in the tournament.
However, here’s a look at what’s at stake for each team on Saturday (complete with some 2-way tiebreaker scenarios):
LSU (15-2 SEC): No. 1 seed, SEC title
The Tigers face the simplest scenario for seeding purposes — win, and they’re the No. 1 seed and at least a co-champion (depending on Tennessee’s result). Playing against Vanderbilt (0-17 in SEC play) should make that task easy, even with coach Will Wade suspended.
Lose, though, and they could drop to the No. 2 seed if the Vols beat Auburn on the road. They can’t fall to No. 3, though, as they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kentucky.
Tennessee (15-2 SEC): No. 1 seed, SEC title
It’s simple for the Vols, too — win and you win a share of the regular-season title. However, if they win and LSU loses, the Vols are the No. 1 seed. On the other hand, there’s a way they fall to the No. 3 seed.
If Tennessee loses to Auburn, the Tigers would be the No. 5 seed. If Kentucky beats Florida, the Wildcats’ 2-0 record against Auburn would vault them ahead of the Vols for No. 2.
Kentucky (14-3 SEC): SEC title (with help)
The Wildcats can’t earn the No. 1 seed, as they would lose the head-to-head showdown against LSU. But if the Tigers and Vols lose and the Wildcats beat Florida, Kentucky would earn a share of the regular-season title and potentially the No. 2 seed.
Of course, as we all know, this team is built to peak in the postseason. The Wildcats have won the past four SEC Tournaments, and they’ll be dangerous once again in Nashville, no matter where they’re seeded.
South Carolina (10-7 SEC): No. 4 seed and double-bye in tourney
The Gamecocks are only 15-15 overall, but they’re in the driver’s seat to earn the No. 4 seed.
South Carolina and Auburn are tied at 10-7 in SEC action, but the Gamecocks hold the tiebreaker. So, even if both win Saturday, the Gamecocks’ potential win over Georgia in Columbia would put them in that coveted No. 4 spot, which comes with a double-bye in the SEC tourney.
Auburn (10-7 SEC): No. 4 seed (with help)
The Tigers face the tough task of hosting the Vols in their final game. However, a big win there would not only help their NCAA Tournament standing, but could also vault them into the No. 4 spot in the SEC Tournament.
Of course, that would need to be helped by South Carolina losing at home to Georgia, but this SEC season has taught us that anything can happen.
Ole Miss (9-8 SEC): No. 5 seed (with help)
The Rebels can’t be the No. 4 seed, due to their head-to-head loss to South Carolina, but if Auburn loses vs. Tennessee on Saturday (a real possibility) and the Rebels beat Mizzou (also likely), they’d be the No. 5 seed.
That is thanks to going 2-0 against Auburn this year. If the Rebels lose, though, things get a lot murkier.
Mississippi State (9-8 SEC): No. 5 seed (with help)
By my calculations, South Carolina would likely be the No. 4 seed even with a loss vs. Georgia and a Mississippi State win over Texas A&M. That comes down to the Gamecocks being 1-0 against Auburn and Ole Miss, while the Bulldogs are 1-1 against both teams.
However, if the Bulldogs win and the Rebels lose, the No. 5 seed would come down to a tiebreaker with South Carolina. Mississippi State is 1-1 against the Gamecocks and the Rebels are 0-1, so the Bulldogs would get the nod.
Florida (9-8 SEC): No. 6 seed (with help)
The Gators lost their chance to be the No. 4 seed and the No. 5 seed by losing to LSU, but they could still be the No. 6 seed.
If they win and Mississippi State loses, the Gators will be the No. 6 seed. However, beating Kentucky won’t be easy.
Alabama (8-9 SEC): No. 7 seed (with help)
There are 3 teams at 9-8 — Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Florida. At 8-9, the Tide can’t jump the Gators in a 2-way tiebreaker, as they have a head-to-head loss to Florida. However, if they beat Arkansas on Saturday and Ole Miss and Mississippi State lose, the Tide could rise to the No. 7 seed.
Alabama went 1-0 against Ole Miss and 1-1 against Mississippi State. The Tide’s tiebreaker with the Bulldogs would be their win over Kentucky to start SEC play.
The other end of the spectrum is easy, though — lose to Arkansas on Saturday and the Tide will fall below the Hogs, all the way to the No. 10 seed.
Arkansas (7-10 SEC): No. 9 seed
The Hogs have a simple path. Beat Alabama and they’re the No. 9 seed. Lose, and they’re still the No. 10 seed even if Texas A&M wins, as they are 1-1 against the Aggies head-to-head and hold a win over likely No. 1-seed LSU.
Texas A&M (6-11 SEC): No. 11 seed
The Aggies are, at this point, locked into playing on Day 1 of the SEC Tournament. Even if they win Saturday and Arkansas loses to Alabama, the tiebreaker goes to the Hogs.
That’s because Arkansas has a win over LSU this year, and that would be what gives them the edge over the Aggies. However, A&M could also fall to the No. 12 seed, and that wouldn’t be ideal.
Mizzou (5-12 SEC): No. 11 seed (with help)
At 5-12, the Tigers need to beat Ole Miss on Saturday and have Texas A&M lose to Mississippi State. Then, they need South Carolina to earn the No. 4 seed. Both teams are winless against the top 3 teams in the conference (LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky), but the Tigers hold a win over the Gamecocks that would serve as the tiebreaker should South Carolina claim the No. 4 seed.
Georgia (2-15 SEC): Absolutely nothing
Look, you always want to win, but there’s literally nothing on the line for the Bulldogs on Saturday. At 2-15, they’re more than one game clear of last-place Vanderbilt and more than two games clear of 5-12 Mizzou for the No. 12 seed.
Yes, it would be nice to avoid a loss at South Carolina on Saturday and play spoiler for the Gamecocks, who are bidding for the No. 4 seed, but the important thing will be to stay healthy. Then, the Dawgs can try to go on one of the wildest SEC Tournament runs ever to try to keep their season alive.
Vanderbilt (0-17 SEC): Avoiding 0-18
No team in SEC history has gone 0-18 in conference play. In SEC history, the worst conference records in an 18-game conference schedule were 1-17 marks by LSU in 1967 and Alabama in 1969. The only winless record was by a team that isn’t even in the conference anymore, as Georgia Tech went 0-14 in 1954.
So, how can the Commodores avoid this dubious history? Well, uh, it won’t be easy. They have to go on the road and try to beat likely No. 1 seed LSU in Baton Rouge. Good luck with that.