When I said on Monday that the SEC is a two-bid league, that wasn't strictly true. After all, Joe Lunardi's projection from later that day had the league as a four-bid conference with both Tennessee and Missouri making it in.
However my pessimism came largely from a disbelief that the two bubble teams could keep it together and win out. Neither had a tournament-worthy team on the schedule from then on out with the exception of each other, and neither has shown the kind of consistency to suggest they'd win out.
Missouri proved my pessimism to be well founded in its case, as the Tigers didn't just lose to Georgia last night. They fell by 15 on the road, with the Bulldogs completing the season sweep. Mizzou's lack of defense in the 71-56 debacle wasn't a new thing, but the offense failed to keep up its end of the bargain. A team that is supposed to be knocking on the door of the Big Dance is now tied for tenth. Tenth in the SEC. In this SEC. Yeah.
Meanwhile in Nashville, Florida continued to defy its poll curse and beat Vandy to win its first game as No. 1 this season. The 15-0 Gators clinched a share of the conference title with the 57-54 win, and it moved to 13-2 in contests decided by single digits. It was a game emblematic of a season in which someone always seems to step up when needed. As the score indicates, many guys in orange and blue had issues putting the ball in the basket. Dorian Finney-Smith—who had been slumping most of the month of February—was the one guy who had no such problems and led the way with 19. It's always someone.
I've said a couple times before that no one dominates without help, and while this UF team is quite good, it has gotten help from this being a(nother) really bad year for the conference. I remain convinced that someone will have to be a surprise winner in Atlanta for the league to get a third team in March Madness, but who? Before you put up third place Georgia, remember that it has lost 72-50 to Florida and 79-54 to Kentucky. UGA would probably have to count on some help in making it all the way through.
Anyway, the story remains the same. You can't really count on anyone winning when they need to except for Florida and Kentucky. That is how a 14-team conference becomes a two-bid league.