SEC Bubble Teams Keep On Rolling

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

It was far from certain in one team's case, but the quest for up to five NCAA Tournament bids remains alive.

The SEC isn't getting five bids to the tournament—well, it shouldn't, anyway, given its general struggles, but after last night, it still has five teams in the running.

Tennessee and Arkansas didn't leave any doubt in their wins. The Volunteers smoked Auburn 82-54 in a game that wasn't in doubt for very long at all. By the half, UT had a 24-point lead, and it actually extended that lead slightly over the second half. Arkansas, meanwhile, blew the doors off of Ole Miss 110-80, and it wasn't even that close. The hot-shooting Hogs' biggest lead of the game was 43 points.

Missouri, meanwhile, just barely squeaked by Texas A&M 57-56. The Tigers were down down four with just over a minute to go, but Earnest Ross personally went on a 7-2 run in the final 1:06 to snatch away the victory. There was some controversy on the final play, as Missouri deflected an A&M inbound pass but might have been out of bounds on it before time expired. After a lengthy review, the refs decided they couldn't overturn the initial ruling that time had run out, and that was it. I thought A&M deserved about 1.6 more seconds, but it was close.

At this point, the cream has really risen to the top of the league. The two teams safely in the Big Dance are at the top of the standings, and three of the next four are the bubble teams. Georgia held on to its spot in third by beating Mississippi State 66-45 last night, allowing it to continue its role of potential SEC Tournament seeding spoiler. Had a couple of these bubble guys taken care of business against UGA—Mizzou got swept and Arkansas dropped one—we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Looking nationally, the SEC bubble guys got some good news with Cal losing to Utah last night. Dayton's upset of Saint Louis didn't help, though. It's a good news/bad news situation with several other bubble competitors.

Oklahoma State, Oregon, Providence, Nebraska, Florida State, and Georgetown all play nationally ranked teams in their next games. FSU has the best draw of any of them, as it will face the reeling Syracuse Orange. SU has lost four of five after starting the year 25-0. With FSU sitting in "first four out" territory, it could steal a bid by defeating the 'Cuse.

This weekend, Arkansas faces Alabama while Missouri and Tennessee play each other. Mizzou needs the win more than Tennessee does, though neither can really afford losses.

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