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How SEC teams can help their tournament chances in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Most of the participating teams can help whatever case they have for the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Mississippi Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

For the second year in a row, 10 of the SEC’s 14 teams will be taking a break from the grind of the conference schedule to participate in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

How important is this for the league? Well, the Big 12 is currently the top-rated conference according to KenPom, and seven of that league’s ten schools are ranked in the RPI Top 50 (Yeah, everybody hates the RPI, but the NCAA still uses it. At least for one more year). So some SEC teams will be able to help their cases for an NCAA Tournament bid on Saturday.

Not Participating

Since the SEC has 14 teams and the Big 12 has 10, four SEC teams will be playing regular old conference games on Saturday. South Carolina travels to Missouri and Alabama hosts Mississippi State.

Can’t Help Their Tournament Chances... Because They’re Nonexistent

LSU is currently 1-7 in the SEC and ranked 129th in the RPI. They’re not going to the tournament, so it really doesn’t matter what they do at Texas Tech.

At this point, I would say the chances of Vanderbilt, Texas A&M or Auburn are all pretty remote. We can talk if A&M pulls off a win at WVU, but these three would practically have to run the table to get in.

Can Only Hurt Themselves

Georgia hosts Texas and Florida travels to Oklahoma. Ignore the names: Texas and Oklahoma are both currently outside the RPI top 100 and are sporting sub-.500 records, so a loss would harm either team. Granted, Florida can probably afford a slip-up. Georgia can’t.

Doesn’t Really Need Help

Kansas is currently #7 in the RPI. Kentucky could improve their seeding with a win over the Jayhawks, but the Wildcats certainly aren’t in any danger of missing the tournament.

Hey, They Can Help Themselves!

Arkansas and — don’t laugh — Tennessee find themselves in decent position for a tournament bid, and both draw a quality opponent this weekend. The Razorbacks are lacking in quality wins — their best win is a road win over, well, Tennessee — so winning at Oklahoma State would help tremendously.

Tennessee’s record isn’t all that pretty at 11-9, but the Vols have played the country’s third most difficult schedule and added a signature win over Kentucky on Tuesday night. Beating Kansas State at home wouldn’t quite be on that level, but K-State is in the RPI top 50 as of this writing.

Here’s a Gift-Wrapped Chance to Resuscitate Your Season

Are your NCAA Tournament hopes hanging on by a string, and you drew the #1 team in the RPI at home? That’s you, Ole Miss. Don’t blow it.