If the SEC plans to top its five NCAA Tournament bids from last year, Tuesday night wasn't the way to get there.
The Alabama Crimson Tide could have solidified its spot in the bubble pecking order, but instead it lost 78-53 to the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington. Retin Obasohan came ready to go, as he scored more than half his team's points (29) and made more than half of its field goals (nine of 17). The rest of the team shot 23% from the field as Jamal Murray's 23 points nearly outscored all of non-Obasohan Bama on his own.
I doubt that anyone will hold the defeat too much against the Tide since basically no one but the Wildcats wins in Rupp. It's more of a big missed opportunity because the rest of Alabama's schedule consists of Auburn, Arkansas, and at Georgia. It's nothing but downside from a bubble standpoint, meaning Bama will have to make a good run in the SEC Tournament to remove all doubt.
Of course, the number of really good wins possible in Nashville is shrinking. The LSU Tigers basically bowed out of bubble contention by losing 85-65 to the Arkansas Razorbacks. It was on the road and the Hogs aren't in the conference's bottom tier, but there is no way to spin this one nicely for the Tigers. Arkansas took a 34-32 halftime lead and turned it into a 20-point blowout.
LSU had already sunk to 89th in the RPI before the game took place, and the Razorbacks were 130th. Tennessee was 118th yesterday, meaning that the Tigers have now picked up a pair of RPI 100-150 losses in their last two contests. I'm calling it: if it wasn't already the case, and it might've been after the loss to the Vols, LSU won't make the NCAA Tournament without the conference's autobid.
The one scrap of good news for SEC bubble teams was the Vanderbilt Commodores picking up a nice road win over the Florida Gators 87-74. Damian Jones had a career best 27 points to lead the 'Dores, who need to collect wins down the stretch to have the opportunity to earn a dance ticket in the SEC Tournament. UF is the third-best win an SEC team can get these days behind Kentucky and Texas A&M, so earning it on the road is a chip in Vandy's favor.
Florida's RPI of 40 heading into Tuesday night and its projected 9-seed in the Bracket Matrix means that it had cushion to spare to absorb a not-bad loss to VU. Getting swept by the Commodores is bad for the Gators' SEC Tournament seeding, but it doesn't much matter for the Big Dance. I think if Florida puts on a respectable showing at LSU and against UK in its next two games and avoids losing to Mizzou and anyone from the bottom of the league in the SECT, it should be fine on Selection Sunday.
In the nightcap, the Ole Miss Rebels moved up to above .500 in conference play by beating the Missouri Tigers 85-78. Stefan Moody's 29 points held the day and prevented Mizzou from being able to say it won three of its last four games. The Rebels are just three games out of the conference lead with three to go. They won't get a chance for the top spot because I don't think UK or A&M will let them, but with Georgia, Mississippi State, and Tennessee left to go, the Rebels will have a chance at a better SEC Tournament seed than it was looking like back in January when the team lost four straight conference games.