TEAMS OF THE WEEK: Georgia and LSU
With today being March 1, we're getting down to crunch time. The conference has three teams that are either tournament locks or in good shape: Kentucky, Arkansas, and Ole Miss. It also has three teams in bubble territory: Georgia, LSU, and Texas A&M. Two of them went 2-0 on the week, and so they share the team of the week honors. Both beat Ole Miss in fact, picking up a good win to help their causes. Both also beat conference bottom feeders, avoiding critical bad losses. That's what you have to do this time of year.
NOT TEAM OF THE WEEK: Tennessee
The ship is sinking in Knoxville right now. The Vols have won just two of their past 11 games, and this past week they lost to Vanderbilt and Florida. It's more than that, though. They couldn't stop Vandy from making their last 13 field goals, and, while UF did get Dorian Finney-Smith back, the Gators won by 17 just days after losing to Missouri. UT has been out of the NCAA Tournament picture for a while, but they're about to play their way out of the NIT as well. It's been rough sledding for Big Orange for a while, and this week didn't reverse the misfortune.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jarell Martin, LSU
No one did more for the co-team of the week than Martin did. He had a pair of double-doubles this week, putting up 25 and 12 in the win over Auburn and 18 and 12 in the big win over Ole Miss. Martin's performance against the Rebels was especially important given that fellow star Jordan Mickey had one of his lesser halves of the year in the first half of that game.
Martin's teammate Tim Quarterman gets a shout out as well, as he had a triple-double in the win over Ole Miss. He had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, and it's the Tigers' first triple-double since Shaq put one up in 1992.
TOURNAMENT BID QUEST: Steady
The only losses this week among the contenders were to other contenders: Arkansas beat Texas A&M, Kentucky beat Arkansas, and Georgia and LSU both beat Ole Miss. It was a clean week, in other words, which is what we're looking for. A&M really could have used that win over the Razorbacks, given that A) they're the lowest projected team among the SEC's six currently, and B) the signature win line is the biggest hole in their resume. It means the Aggies will probably need to win at least one game in the conference tournament to seal the deal, but it's hard to ask for much else.
KENTUCKY UNDEFEATED WATCH: Beastly
UK stomped Mississippi State in its midweek game, but we knew that was coming. Something that was less easily projected was the fact the Wildcats would go on to mercilessly blow out Arkansas 84-67 on Saturday. The Hogs' 26-point first half was their lowest output in a half all year, one less than their 27-point first half in their 57-56 loss to Florida. The final score is even deceiving, as Kentucky had plenty of leads of 25 points or more throughout the second half. This game is up their with the Cats' 72-40 win over Kansas in terms of most impressive of the season. When they turn on the jets, it's hard to imagine anyone beating them.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 7-SEED CHANCES: Dead
Kentucky is still gunning for that unblemished regular season record. The task could be easier without the road trip to Georgia, but UK probably will finish the deal. Arkansas mainly needs to avoid embarrassment by winning in Columbia on Thursday. Beating LSU would feel good, but ultimately, that game doesn't mean a ton for the Hogs. Going 1-1 will clinch the 2-seed in the SEC Tournament, as they own the tiebreaker over Texas A&M.
The Aggies probably need to sweep the week's games to feel good about their NCAA Tournament chances. A road win, even if it's over Florida, will be good for the RPI, and losing at home to Alabama is not a good look. If LSU can go 2-0, then it very well could mean a dance ticket punched. Avoid a loss to the flailing Vols and then defeating the SEC's No. 2 team to close the season on a five-game win streak will look good in the eyes of the committee.
Georgia is playing with house money, for the most part. Beating UK is money in the bank, but no one will care if the Bulldogs lose that game by two or 20. As long as they don't allow Auburn to sweep them, their high RPI score will carry them into the tournament with ease. Ole Miss had a rough week in falling to Georgia and LSU, but they had some room to breathe. Beat Bama and Vandy, and it will show that the Rebels just ran into some good teams and aren't truly slumping to end the season.
|at Georgia, Tues.
|at South Carolina, Thurs.
|at Florida, Tues.
|at Alabama, Tues.
|Ole Miss, Tues.
|at Texas A&M
|Mississippi State, Weds.
|at Ole Miss
|Texas A&M, Tues.
|at LSU, Weds.
|at Vanderbilt, Weds.
|at Missouri, Tues.
|at Mississippi State