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Breaking Down SEC Tournament Seeding Possibilities

Here's how things look ahead of the weekend games.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

As of today, Friday, February 27, this is how the seeding in the SEC Tournament would look.

1. Kentucky (15-0)

2. Arkansas (12-3)

With me so far? Good.

3. Ole Miss (10-5)

4. Texas A&M (10-5)

The Rebels are 1-0 against the Aggies, so they win the tiebreaker.

5. LSU (9-6)

6. Georgia (9-6)

The Tigers are 1-0 against the Bulldogs, so they win the tiebreaker.

7. Alabama 7-8

OK, here's where we get to tie breaking fun.

8. Florida (6-9)

9. Tennessee (6-9)

10. Vanderbilt (6-9)

The first step of the three-way tiebreaker is record among the tied teams. Florida and Tennessee haven't played yet (they will tomorrow), so it's down to the teams' records against Vandy. Well, they're both 1-1 against the Commodores. The next step is the records of the tied teams against the 1-seed, then the 2-seed, and so on. No has beaten Kentucky, so we look to Arkansas. Florida is 1-0, Tennessee is 1-1, and Vanderbilt is 0-1 against the Razorbacks. Those records set the order.

11. Mississippi State (5-10)

12. Auburn (4-11)

13. South Carolina (4-11)

The Tigers are 1-0 against the Gamecocks, so they win the tiebreaker.

14. Missouri (2-13)

Weekend Scenario 1: Ole Miss-LSU

The first place to look for fun is the 3-seed through 6-seed lines. For these purposes, I am going to assume that Georgia will beat Missouri and Texas A&M will beat Auburn.

If Ole Miss beats LSU, then Georgia will leap ahead of LSU in the standings:

3. Ole Miss (11-5)

4. Texas A&M (11-5)

5. Georgia (10-6)

6. LSU (9-7)

If LSU beats Ole Miss, however, then the Tigers rise and the Rebels plummet:

3. Texas A&M (11-5)

4. LSU (10-6)

5. Georgia (10-6)

6. Ole Miss (10-6)

In this scenario, LSU would be 3-0 against UGA and Ole Miss. Georgia would be 2-1 thanks to its sweep of the Rebels, and Ole Miss would be 0-4.

In short, the stakes of the Ole Miss-LSU game end up being who gets to be in line for a double bye in the SEC Tournament. No pressure, guys.

Weekend Scenario 2: The middle to lower jumble

The place where seeding really gets crazy is in the 7-seed to 11-seed range. There are too many potential outcomes to cover fully, so I'm going to again lock in two winners and leave the third key game variable. I'm going to say for the sake of discussion that Vanderbilt beats Alabama (again) and Mississippi State beats South Carolina. I will then leave the Tennessee-Florida game up in the air.

If Florida wins, the Commodores will actually profit the most while as Tide falls:

7. Vanderbilt (7-9)

8. Florida (7-9)

9. Alabama (7-9)

Vanderbilt wins this tiebreaker by being 3-1 against the other two, while Florida is 2-1 and Alabama is 0-3. Moving up from the 10-seed to 7-seed isn't bad for a day's work.

10. Tennessee (6-10)

11. Mississippi State (6-10)

UT and MSU split their season series, and neither beat Kentucky. We look to Arkansas again, who went 1-1 against Tennessee but swept Mississippi State. Those outcomes give the tiebreaker to the Vols.

But what if Tennessee wins?

7. Vanderbilt (7-9)

8. Alabama (7-9)

9. Tennessee (7-9)

Vandy would be 2-1 against the other tied teams, while Bama and Tennessee would both be 1-2. Alabama is 1-0 against Tennessee, so the Tide would end up ahead of the Vols.

10. Florida (6-10)

11. Mississippi State (6-10)

The Gators are 1-0 against the Bulldogs, so they win the tiebreaker.

The Mississippi State Rising Scenario

Mississippi State, despite being the second-worst team in the league according to the KenPom ratings, is conspicuous in hanging around the cluster of teams that are supposed to be much better than the Bulldogs. Just how high up in the seeding can we push MSU?

Thanks to the way the schedule works out, it's higher than I think anyone would be comfortable with. I'm going to lay out some game outcomes, none of which I find implausible.

  • Alabama loses to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M
  • Florida beats Tennessee but loses to Texas A&M and Kentucky
  • Mississippi State beats South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Missouri
  • Tennessee beats South Carolina but loses to Florida and LSU
  • Vanderbilt beats Alabama but loses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss

I mean yes, it is a little implausible to imagine this year's Mississippi State team winning three straight SEC games, two of which are on the road. Still though, the Gamecocks aren't so far above the Bulldogs that they can't lose that one, and MSU has already defeated both Vandy and Mizzou.

If all of that happens, then Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt all will end up at 7-11 in league play. Mississippi State, however, will end up at 8-10. You know what that means.

It means the team in the 7-seed spot, the top representative in the conference after the six NCAA Tournament contenders, would be Mississippi State. The team with losses to Tulane, Arkansas State, and South Carolina Upstate—and a 19-point loss to McNeese State for crying out loud—would be in the top half of the conference standings.

The league might put a half dozen teams into March Madness, but if this situation comes to pass, it'll show that the #SECBasketballFever hasn't entirely broken.