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SEC Tournament Seeding Scenarios, One Game Out

Here are the various seeding situations we can run into depending on how today's games work out.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

This is it. We've got seven SEC games that all have meaning, and eight games elsewhere that have big NCAA Tournament bubble implications. What's left to go over? SEC Tournament seeding.

Kentucky has locked in the top seed. Arkansas has locked in the 2-seed. After that, it starts to get messy. Fortunately, the conference standings kind of work themselves out into tiers. I'm going to focus on those tiers to make things a little easier to understand.

Race for the 3-Seed

Ole Miss and Texas A&M are currently each at 11-6. LSU and Georgia are both 10-7. They make up the tier below the top two.

The Rebels and Aggies can at best finish 12-6. Ole Miss beat A&M in the teams' only game this year, so if they end up tied at that record, Andy places ahead of Billy in the Kennedy battle. LSU and Georgia can both finish at best at 11-7. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs in the teams' only game this year, so if they end up in a two-way tie, LSU wins out.

In short: if all four teams win, Ole Miss will be the 3-seed, A&M the 4-seed, LSU the 5-seed, and Georgia the 6-seed.

Now, let's flip the script. It's possible to end up with a four-way tie between the teams if the Rebels and Aggies lose while the Tigers and Bulldogs win. At that point, we look at the teams' records against each other to break the tie.

Georgia went 3-1 against the other three collectively. LSU went 3-2, A&M went 2-2, and Ole Miss went 1-4. Therefore in the event of a four-way tie, Georgia gets the 3-seed, LSU gets the 4-seed, A&M gets the 5-seed, and Ole Miss ends up with the 6-seed.

There are four possible three-way ties at 11-7 that these teams can get into. Sorting them out works the same way as the four-way tie does: we go to record against the other tied teams. To save a lot of typing and avoid confusion, I'm just going to spit out the four possible ties here with the seeds already sorted out:

  • 3 Georgia, 4 Ole Miss, 5 Texas A&M
  • 4 LSU, 5 Georgia, 6 Ole Miss
  • 4 Texas A&M, 5 Georgia, 6 LSU
  • 3 Texas A&M, 4 LSU, 5 Ole Miss

The seeding changes because of Ole Miss and A&M being ahead of LSU and Georgia by a game. If the Rebels or Aggies are not involved in a three-way tie, it means that they won, finished 12-6, and therefore secured the 3-seed.

You can see that A&M wins two of the three ties it can be in, so the Aggies have the best chances of success should it come down to a three-way tie. Ole Miss and Georgia also can only get a double bye in one of these scenarios, so they'll be rooting hard against LSU today.

Georgia owns tiebreakers against Ole Miss and A&M. LSU owns tiebreakers against Georgia and Ole Miss. Ole Miss owns the tiebreaker against A&M, while A&M owns the tiebreaker against LSU.

Race for the 7-Seed

We have the same situation one tier down with Florida and Vanderbilt each at 8-9 and Alabama and Tennessee both at 7-10.

Breaking a two-way tie between the Gators and Commodores requires going an extra level in the tiebreaker because the teams split their regular season games. In that next level, you go to record against the 1-seed, then 2-seed, and so on. Florida wins a tiebreaker at 9-9, because that would mean UF beat Kentucky while Vandy didn't. UF also wins at 8-10, because the Gators beat Arkansas while VU didn't.

Breaking a two-way tie between Bama and UT is far simpler. The Tide won the only game between the teams and therefore takes control.

Let's look at the potential four-way tie between these teams. Florida went 3-1 against the other tied teams, which comes out to a .750 win percentage. The Gators then would get the 7-seed. Vandy and its 4-2 (.667) record comes next, so the Commodores secure the 8-seed. Bama and Tennessee each went 1-3, so the Tide's head-to-head win comes into play and puts it in the 9-seed. Tennessee then gets the 10-seed.

Let's go to the three-way ties here. The seedings change for the same reason as last time: if Florida or Vandy is not in the tie, it means that team won and secured the 7-seed.

  • 8 Florida, 9 Alabama, 10 Tennessee
  • 7 Vanderbilt, 8 Florida, 9 Alabama
  • 8 Vanderbilt, 9 Alabama, 10 Tennessee
  • 7 Florida, 8 Vanderbilt, 9 Tennessee

We can pretty much ignore the third tiebreaker there, as that would require Florida to beat Kentucky. Anyway, the Vols come out the worst here, as they finish last in all three tiebreakers they're in. The Gators win two of their three, so they're in the best shape of anyone here.

Florida is also in great shape because it owns all head-to-head tiebreakers among these teams. The rest own one apiece: Bama over Tennessee, Tennessee over Vandy, and Vandy over Bama. UT gets the tiebreaker over VU because it goes to the record against the top seeds and going down tiebreaker, and the Vols went 1-1 against Arkansas while the Commodores went 0-1.

The Day 1 Tier

The last four teams are all locked into playing on the first day of the SEC Tournament when 11 plays 14 and 12 plays 13.

Alas, there is no chance of a four-way tie among them. There is, however, a chance of a three-way tie with Auburn, Mississippi State, and South Carolina. It would require Auburn to beat Georgia, Mississippi State to lose to Missouri, and South Carolina to lose to Tennessee.

They all went 1-1 against the other two, so we have to go down the 1-seed, then 2-seed, and so forth. None of them beat Kentucky, Arkansas, Ole Miss, or Texas A&M, so it comes down to their records LSU:

  • 11 Mississippi State, 12 Auburn, 13 South Carolina

This one is slightly tricky since UGA and AU play today. Auburn must beat Georgia to get the three-way tie, which means Georgia can't finish ahead of LSU. The tiebreaker must hinge on their records against LSU, then. MSU went 1-0, Auburn went 1-1, and South Carolina went 0-1.

There is one other odd tie that can happen, which comes if Auburn loses and Missouri wins. They'd be tied at 4-14, and they split their season series. It again depends on who finishes ahead of Georgia and LSU. Auburn beat Georgia while Mizzou didn't, and Mizzou beat LSU while Auburn didn't. If UGA finishes ahead, then Auburn wins that tiebreaker. If LSU finishes ahead, then Missouri wins that tiebreaker.

Auburn owns the tiebreaker over South Carolina. Mississippi State owns the tiebreaker over Auburn. South Carolina owns the tiebreaker over Mississippi State.