What Happened Last Night
Arkansas jumped out to an 11-0 lead over Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena — and then Kentucky outscored the Razorbacks 87-61 the rest of the way. Kevin Knox led five Wildcats in double figures with 23 points, and any bubble talk regarding Kentucky is likely over. The Wildcats are now #16 in the RPI and are 19-9 on the season against the #2 SOS, and they now have five Quadrant 1 wins.
You know who else has five Quadrant 1 wins? LSU, somehow: the Tigers’ season sweep of Texas A&M, along with a win at Arkansas, a neutral-court win over Michigan, and a home win over Houston. LSU got 28 points and 9 assists from Tremont Waters to beat Vanderbilt 88-78, and their quality wins give them a fighting chance at overcoming a #74 RPI and a 16-11 overall record. If they win out — their remaining regular season games are at Georgia, at South Carolina, and Mississippi State at home — they’ll have an interesting case for the selection committee.
Speaking of Mississippi State, the Bulldogs picked up a surprisingly easy, 93-81 win over Texas A&M in College Station last night. Abdul Ado had 19 points and 9 rebounds to lead Mississippi State. The main knock on Mississippi State has been a horrendous nonconference schedule — 13 of the Bulldogs’ 19 Division I wins came against Quadrants 3 and 4, including five games against teams outside the top 300 of the RPI. And last night’s win was just their second Quadrant 1 win, and a home win over Alabama might not continue to be Quadrant 1. I thought earlier this season that Mississippi State might regret that nonconference schedule and that’s looking increasingly likely.
As for Texas A&M, well, they’re an interesting case for very different reasons. The Aggies are now 6-9 in the SEC; they also have four Quadrant 1 wins and played the #6 overall SOS. The NCAA has been known to reward borderline cases who scheduled like Texas A&M did (and punish those who scheduled like Mississippi State did.) There’s still a chance they could end up out of the tournament if this slide continues, but their overall profile looks a lot like Vanderbilt’s last year — and that team got a 9-seed.
And finally, Ole Miss won Tony Madlock’s head coaching debut in overtime at Missouri by a 90-87 score. There’s no way to spin this -- this is an awful loss for Mizzou. That said, Missouri still has five Quadrant 1 wins and a #36 RPI, so they should be fine. But this snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Rebels.
|Georgia at South Carolina
|Alabama at Auburn
|Florida at Tennessee
Should Auburn beat Alabama tonight, and Florida win at Tennessee, Auburn will clinch at least a share of the SEC regular season title.
Florida’s profile is more bubbly than commonly realized: the Gators have a bunch of quality wins (Gonzaga and Cincinnati on a neutral court, at Texas A&M, at Missouri, at Kentucky) along with a middling RPI (62) and some... questionable losses (Loyola-Chicago at home, at Ole Miss, at Vanderbilt, and a sweep at the hands of Georgia.) Basically they can beat or lose to just about anyone. So of course this probably means they’ll win at Tennessee, who suddenly seems to be coming back to earth with losses to Alabama and Georgia sandwiched around a narrow home win over South Carolina.
Georgia seemed to play their way off the bubble with a 2-8 stretch, but wins over Florida (on the road!) and Tennessee last week at least got them back in the conversation. A win at South Carolina -- which beat Auburn on Saturday to snap a six-game losing streak — and Mark Fox will be well on his way to his annual Houdini act to keep his job for another year.
And finally, Auburn hosts Alabama and will suddenly have to adjust to life without Anfernee McLemore. Alabama missed a quality win opportunity at Kentucky on Saturday, but they’ll have another golden opportunity here tonight. In spite of a 17-10 overall record, Alabama’s resume is such that completing a season sweep of Auburn will practically make them an NCAA Tournament lock.
Bad Gambling Advice
Last night: 2-2 ATS; Season to Date: 109-97-7 ATS
- Georgia (+2.5) at South Carolina: Georgia seems to have turned things around over the last week or so and I look for that to continue tonight.
- Alabama at Auburn (-8): While Auburn is now shorthanded, they’re also going to be incredibly motivated because (a) it’s Alabama and (b) they can win a share of the SEC title.
- Florida (+4.5) at Tennessee: The way that Florida’s season has gone, winning at Knoxville makes sense.