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Q&A With Chris Dobbertean, SBN's Bracketologist

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Our resident bracket expert answers questions about the SEC teams' bracket fates.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Dobbertean is SB Nation's bracketologist, and you can find his work at BloggingTheBracket.com as well as the SBNation.com mothership. He graciously agreed to answer some questions about where the SEC and its teams stand heading into this year's NCAA Tournament.

After a back-to-back years of only getting three bids, the SEC is looking at five and maybe six teams in this year. What is the biggest reason for the increase?

To me there are two, with scheduling being the biggest. Back in 2013, the SEC brought Greg Shaheen in to consult on basketball scheduling, and there is no one who knows March Madness better than he does, since he played such a big part in running it for so long. Shaheen knows that to build a tournament-worthy profile, you need to start in November and December. A tournament-worthy schedule includes road games, neutral-site games, and avoiding too many cupcakes. Florida and Kentucky have done this for several seasons, but the rest of the league was slow to catch up. If your 14 teams each build a solid pre-SEC foundation in the RPI, the benefits will pay off from January to March.

The second factor is that the SEC has been in transition for several seasons, with several coaches building their programs up. You're starting to see dividends at Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, and Texas A&M, while the bottom four in Nashville might be on course to make similar jumps in a couple of seasons.

Ole Miss slid some after losing three of four to end the regular season. Are the Rebels a lock with a victory over the South Carolina-Missouri winner, or do they need to beat Georgia to feel safe?

As long as the Rebels avoid defeat on Thursday, they will be fine either way on Friday. An opening loss, particularly if it comes against a Missouri team that's currently outside of the RPI top 200, might cause some sweating in Oxford, however.

Georgia has been creeping lower of late despite winning three-of-four and pushing Kentucky. Are the Bulldogs a true lock, or do they need to win a game in Nashville to be secure?

Even though I have Georgia in my "Avoiding Dayton" group, they are a bit safer, as I think only five spots (the "Last Four In" and BYU) are up for grabs. Bulldog fans need to cheer for a game with Ole Miss in the quarterfinals, as a potential matchup against a South Carolina squad that already swept UGA or Mizzou sets up the potential of the dreaded late bad loss.

If Texas A&M wins two games, is that going to be enough? Or do the Aggies still need help from elsewhere?

The Aggies will probably need help and should cheer hard for Texas Tech against Texas on Wednesday (like they really need to be told that). Beating LSU three times would be helpful, but I'm not sure if sweeping the Bayou Bengals and a lack of bad losses will be enough to get in.

If LSU loses to A&M, how should Tiger fans feel about their bracket chances?

Since I've had the Tigers as a 9 since the weekend, they're actually rather safe. Even though LSU has lost some head scratchers, they have wins at Arkansas and West Virginia, two notoriously difficult road environments. That win in Fayetteville on Saturday was a great late statement. Dropping an SEC quarterfinal to a good A&M team should not cause too much worry in Baton Rouge, though it may result in a game in Dayton.

Now, if Mississippi State or Auburn were to defeat A&M to set up a meeting with the Tigers, winning would definitely be a necessity.

Is there any chance Arkansas sneaks onto the 4 line, or are the Hogs locked into 5/6-seed territory?

The third and fourth No. 4 seed are really going to depend on what happens this week. It's possible the Committee isn't impressed enough by Utah or Northern Iowa, the two teams I have filling these places right now, so a strong showing by a team like Arkansas on Friday and Saturday might make the difference.

Of course, if they get to Sunday and face Kentucky, that opens up bigger possibilities in the unlikely event of a win.