Our good friend PodKatt from ATVS coined the #SECBasketballFever term to describe the malaise that has descended over the conference's men's hoops realm over the past few years. This year, he's been tracking how many of the 31 other conferences the SEC has acquired losses to.
Mississippi State's recent loss to the Atlantic Sun's USC-Upstate (oof) pushed the count up to 15. Here's a table of where each of the league's losses have come from:
Note: all rankings mentioned from here on are KenPom rankings as of the day of publishing.
Twenty of the losses have come to the Big 12 and ACC alone, which isn't bad on the face of it. The fact that three of the ACC losses came to No.128 Clemson (No. 33 Arkansas; No. 62 LSU; No. 147 Auburn) is not quite as encouraging.
But anyway, some of them really aren't bad at all. The West Coast Conference loss was No. 32 Georgia falling to No. 7 Gonzaga. Two losses are to No. 9 Kansas (No. 14 Florida, No. 98 Tennessee). Two more are to No. 19 Iowa State (Arkansas, No. 76 Alabama). Three of the four Big East losses are either to No. 28 Georgetown (Florida) or No. 29 Xavier (Missouri, Alabama).
Of course, there are some horrible losses in there too. Missouri may be the lowest ranked team in the league at 158, but that's no excuse for losing to No. 263 UMKC. No. 98 Ole Miss took on an awful one in No. 208 Charleston Southern. Only one of Mississippi State's five losses was to someone better than No. 120 Oregon State. South Carolina, despite somehow hanging onto the No. 34 spot, has two losses to teams in the 101-150 range. Only four teams with a loss (hey, Kentucky) have avoided falling to someone ranked 100th or worse: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Texas A&M. And Bama only is on that list thanks to a last-second win over No. 287 Appalachian State yesterday.
For what it's worth, the fever does seem to be breaking some. As it stands now, the SEC has the best average and median KenPom ranks its had in the past four seasons:
Note: the average and median for 2011-12 do not include Missouri or Texas A&M, which were still in the Big 12 then.
There's plenty of time left for those ranks to move around a lot—and they will—but the trend from the 2012-13 nadir is moving in the right direction. The coaching roster in the SEC has slowly improved of late, and Bruce Pearl's return should get Auburn to new heights before too long. This year's Tigers don't have the players to make a huge impact yet, but they already do have something of a signature win with an overtime victory over Xavier from Saturday.
But you didn't come for optimism, and this conference ain't exactly performing like a true power league. So: how many more conferences could the SEC acquire losses to?
|Team||Future Opponent||Conference||KenPom Rank||Opp. KP Rank||Diff.|
|LSU||Coll. Of Charleston||CAA||61||177||116|
|Texas A&M||Hartford||America East||62||185||123|
|Miss State||McNeese St.||Southland||146||279||133|
|Ole Miss||Austin Peay||OVC||93||282||189|
|South Carolina||NC A&T||MEAC||34||342||308|
There is potential for 10 more, if you include D-II as a "conference". It's not likely that we'll get anywhere close to that mark, given the disparity in quality in most of the games. The most likely additions to the list based on KenPom ranks are the Ivy, SWAC, and SoCon.