With only one game to go, the SEC Tournament picture is becoming clearer. It's still a bit of a mess because so many teams are bunched up, but here is my attempt to simplify everything.
As always, I broke ties using the SEC's official tiebreaker. There are too many tiebreaks baked into all of the scenarios below to detail each one, so you're going to have to trust me. I've checked this a few times, so I'm pretty sure it's right.
Here are the current league standings if you'd like to refer to them.
Top Four Seeds
The top four seeds all get double byes, so getting one of them is important. The Texas A&M Aggies and Kentucky Wildcats have clinched two of the double byes. The LSU Tigers, Vanderbilt Commodores, and South Carolina Gamecocks are fighting over the last two.
Here is a chart of all of the possibilities for the top four seeds.
If Texas A&M beats Vanderbilt, it secures the top spot regardless because it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the only other team that can finish at 13-5, Kentucky.
If both Vanderbilt and LSU win, then the South Carolina's game against the Arkansas Razorbacks becomes irrelevant to the top four seeds. A&M, UK, LSU, and Vandy would all be tied at 12-6, and the Gamecocks can finish with no better than an 11-7 record.
The Muddy Middle
The 5-seed through 10-seed range is a mess, but I've done my best to streamline things. Here is a chart of the potential outcomes with some explanations to follow.
- This chart assumes that the Florida Gators will beat the Missouri Tigers on Saturday. If UF does lose, however, it will get locked into the 10-seed at an 8-10 record. The Alabama Crimson Tide is the only other team capable of finishing 8-10, and Bama owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Gators get upset, push them down to the 10-seed and move everyone applicable up one.
- If Arkansas beats South Carolina, then the outcomes of the Vandy-A&M and LSU-UK games are irrelevant to the discussion of the 5-seed line and below. Remarkably this is true even if South Carolina, Arkansas, and Ole Miss, who are all 1-1 against each other, have a three-way tie at 10-8. Those three are all 0-1 against UK, 1-0 against Vandy, and each have the same record against Texas A&M as they do against LSU. No matter what order the top four seeds end up in, the SC-Ark-Miss tiebreaker works out the same way.
- If South Carolina and Texas A&M both win, then the outcome of the LSU-UK game are irrelevant to the discussion of the 5-seed line and below.
OK. As you can see, everything is up in the air. Depending on how things shake out, both the Georgia Bulldogs and Arkansas Razorbacks have possibilities of ending up in either the 5-seed or 10-seed. Ole Miss can go from the 5-seed to the 9-seed, while both Alabama and Florida could be anywhere from the 6-seed to the 10-seed. And, not forgetting that table in the last section, South Carolina can span from the 3-seed to the 8-seed.
I can't simplify the situation any further. We're just going to have to let the games themselves clear up the picture as they go along.
The Final Bye
Because Missouri is sitting this tournament out, the 11-seed is the final first round bye. Blessedly, the situation is very easy for the final three seeds because two of the teams play each other and there is a two-game gap in the standings between this grouping of teams and the rest.
If the Tennessee Volunteers win, they will earn the final bye. If they lose, then the winner of the game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers gets the 11-seed. At last, something is just that simple.
Update: Tennessee still gets the 11-seed and Auburn gets the 12 if LSU finishes ahead of Kentucky. Thanks, Will!