The last weekend of the season is always a big one, but it's huge for the SEC for a number of reasons.
The Final SEC Tournament First Round Bye
Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi State have all locked up their first round byes in Atlanta. To make up for that amount of certainty, a whopping four teams are still in the running for the final bye in the East Division.
Georgia is in the worst shape of them all. The Bulldogs have to go on the road to face West champ Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where the Tide hasn't lost all year. It then needs Florida to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville and Tennessee to upset Kentucky in order to get that bye. All in all, it's an improbable set of circumstances.
Kentucky is in the best shape of anyone. All the 'Cats have to do is win and have either Vandy or Georgia lose. Because Vandy and Georgia are playing the respective division winners, the prospects for both of them winning aren't great. UK holds head-to-head tiebreakers over Vanderbilt and Georgia because of having the best division record among the three.
However if Vandy, Kentucky, and Georgia all win to tie at 10-6 in SEC play, Vanderbilt takes the bye thanks to being 3-1 against the other two. Kentucky is 2-2 and Georgia is 1-3. The Commodores also lock up second place in the East by winning and having Kentucky lose by virtue of having swept Georgia.
Tennessee is still in it, though its chances aren't much better than Georgia's are. The Volunteers need to beat Kentucky first and foremost, which is not an easy thing. The games is away from Rupp though, and UK has been more vulnerable on the road. They also need Vanderbilt to lose to Florida and Georgia to lose to Alabama, which are certainly possible.
Playing for Dancing Shoes
Alabama has been in and out of the projected field for a while, and their two straight losses have put them back out. They probably need to beat Georgia tomorrow to avoid a situation where they have to win the conference tournament to feel safe. It's likely going to come down to the wire one way or another for this team, so winning every game it can is imperative.
Georgia is in better shape, having been projected into the field for quite a while. The Bulldogs don't need to beat Alabama, but it wouldn't be a bad idea both for March Madness and that extreme outside shot at the SEC Tournament bye. It helps that they have a win over bubble dweller Colorado, and their double overtime loss to Notre Dame is about as good as a loss can look.
Both teams would do well to keep an eye on the ACC this weekend, as several other bubble teams are from that league. Boston College gets a gimme with a visit from Wake Forest, but the Virginia Tech-Clemson game has big bubble implications. They should also root for either George Mason or Old Dominion to win the CAA Tournament, which tipped off today and continues through the weekend.
Jockeying for Position in the Tournament
Depending on who you ask, Florida is either a three-seed or a four-seed right now. Vandy and Kentucky are consensus five-seeds. All three have a chance to pick up a good win this weekend, with UK playing Tennessee and Vandy and Florida playing each other.
For the most part, they're jockeying for position with Big East teams. With the Big East Tournament known for producing unpredictable results, they all stand to gain ground if chaos breaks out there. Of course they all need to take care of whatever business is presented to them in the SEC Tournament, but they all have a chance to pick up a quality win now before heading to Atlanta. It's always best to take advantage.
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