In? Out? Bubble? Who sits where?

Selection Sunday is less than four weeks away, and the field in what looks like it could be a wide open NCAA Tournament is beginning to take shape.

The Southeastern Conference has some good depth, but one wonders if there is an elite team in the bunch. With that said, East-leading Florida (20-5, 9-2) may be finishing games as well as anyone in the country right now.

Here is a look at each SEC team – save for hopeless Louisiana State (10-15, 2-8 in the SEC) and Auburn (9-15, 2-8) whose only chances are to win the conference tournament – and what their current prospects are for when the brackets are revealed the evening of March 13, 2011.


Florida (20-5, 9-2 & East leader; RPI 11; Strength of Schedule 6)

Big Wins: Kentucky (RPI 14), Vanderbilt (16), at Xavier (19), home and at Tennessee (27), neutral vs. Kansas State (41), Georgia (42), at Florida State (49), Mississippi (61)

Bad Losses: Jacksonville (114), South Carolina (119), Mississippi State (142)

Could help out: The Gators also hold victories against RPI No. 70 Rhode (16-9, 7-4 & tied for fifth in Atlantic 10), No. 87 Kent State (17-7, 8-2 & first in the Mid-American East), No. 112 Morehead State (19-8, 11-4 & second in Ohio Valley), No. 116 Florida Atlantic (18-9, 10-3 & first in the Sun Belt East) and No. 117 American (17-8, 7-3 & second in the Patriot League), each of whom is a contender to earn either the automatic bid that goes to their conference’s tournament championship or (possibly in some, but not many cases) an at-large bid. For a while UF’s 57-54 neutral-court loss to RPI No. 82 Central Florida looked like it might not hurt that badly. However, the Knights (15-8, 2-8 & 11th in Conference USA), after opening 14-0 have gone 1-8 since. On the flipside, the stunning homecourt loss to Jacksonville (17-8, 11-5 & third in the Atlantic Sun) may not hurt so bad in the end, as the Dolphins have won 6-of-8 and could be a darkhorse pick to win the A-Sun Tournament (even though they have gone 0-2 with an average loss of 78.5-60 to league leader Belmont).

Games Left:at LSU (Feb. 20), Georgia (Feb. 24), at 22nd-ranked Kentucky (Feb. 26), Alabama (March 1), at 18th-ranked Vanderbilt (March 5).

Projected Regular Season Record: 24-6 (13-3)

In or Out? In

Potential seed: Highest possible seed probably would be 2. Most likely seed is between 3-6. Worst-case scenario is UF loses out and doesn’t get in at all. Even if the Gators lose their next seven games, they still have an argument (though a soft one) to be included in the field. However, based on the way the Gators have played of late and their body of work, they might be in even with an 0-5 finish followed by a first-round SEC Tournament exit.


Kentucky (17-7, 5-5 & tied for fourth in the East; RPI 14; Strength of Schedule 10)

Big Wins: neutral vs. Notre Dame (RPI 9), at Louisville (25), Tennessee (28), neutral vs. Washington (38), Georgia (41).

Bad Losses: None. Lowest RPI loss is No. 81 Alabama, the SEC West leader and probable NCAA Tournament team.

Could help out: The Wildcats also hold victories at RPI No. 87 Portland (18-7, 5-5 & fifth in the West Coast Conference), No. 100 East Tennessee State (19-9, 14-3 & second in the Atlantic Sun), No. 177 Boston University (14-13, 9-4 & second in America East) and No. 190 Winthrop (12-13, 8-7 & fourth in the Big South), each of whom is a contender to earn either the automatic bid that goes to their conference’s tournament championship or (possibly in some, but not all cases) an at-large bid.

Games Left: Mississippi State (Feb. 15), South Carolina (Feb. 19), at Arkansas (Feb. 23), 15th-ranked Florida (Feb. 26), 18th-ranked Vanderbilt (March 1), at Tennessee (March 6).

Projected Regular Season Record: 21-9 (9-7)

In or Out? In

Potential seed: Anywhere from 3-6, depending on how the rest of the regular season and the SEC Tournament unfolds. Florida could lose the rest of its SEC games and still have a winning in-conference record. However, UK has no such luxury. So, the ‘Cats probably would get into the NCAAs with an 8-8 league mark or better (and might even be able to creep in at 7-9 because this is Kentucky and provided three of the four losses the rest of the way are to UF, Vandy and at Tennessee and not conference also-rans).

Vanderbilt (18-6, 6-4 & tied for second in the East; RPI 16; Strength of Schedule 15)

Big Wins: neutral vs. North Carolina (RPI 12), Kentucky (14), St. Mary’s (28), Georgia (41), Marquette (58), Belmont (60), Mississippi (61), Alabama (81)

Bad Losses: Arkansas (104), South Carolina (119, and the Commodores also have defeated the Gamecocks)

Could help out: The Commodores also hold a victory against RPI No. 87 Nebraska (16-8, 4-6 & ninth in the Big 12), which could earn its way into the NCAAs.

Games Left: at Georgia (Feb. 16), at Auburn (Feb. 19), Tennessee (Feb. 22), at LSU (Feb. 26), at 22nd-ranked Kentucky (March 1), 15th-ranked Florida (March 5)

Projected Regular Season Record: 21-9 (9-7)

In or Out? In

Potential seed: Like Kentucky, Vandy could find itself seeded anywhere between 3-6 depending on how the rest of the regular season and the SEC Tournament plays out. In order to ensure an invitation, the Commodores must, as expected, beat lowly LSU and Auburn. It also couldn’t hurt to win at least one of the other four.

Alabama (16-8, 8-2 & leading the West; RPI 81; Strength of Schedule 118)

Big Wins: Kentucky (14), at Tennessee (28), Mississippi (61)

Bad Losses: neutral vs. Seton Hall (91), at Providence (102), at Arkansas (104), neutral vs. St. Peter’s (142), neutral vs. Iowa (149)

Could help out: The Crimson Tide claims victories against RPI No. 106 Lipscomb (15-10, 10-6 & fourth in Atlantic Sun) and RPI No. 182 Southeast Louisiana (12-10, 6-4 and third in the Southland). Those wins will look better if Lipscomb and Southeast Louisiana finish strong and earn NCAA Tournament berths.

Games Left: at LSU (Feb. 17), Arkansas (Feb. 19), Auburn (Feb. 23), at Mississippi (Feb. 26), at 15th-ranked Florida (March 1), Georgia (March 5)

Projected Regular Season Record: 20-10 (12-4)

In or Out? In

Potential seed: With a strong finish, Alabama could get as high as a 2 (would require winning out and winning the SEC Tournament because strength of schedule is not good). However, it is even more likely the Crimson Tide could slip to a 7 or 8 because, unlike Kentucky, Georgia and Florida, they don’t have a strong non-conference schedule as a resume’-booster. Most likely, Alabama will fit in as a 4, 5 or 6.

Georgia (17-7, 6-4 & tied for second in the East; RPI 41; Strength of Schedule 38)

Big Wins: Kentucky (14), Alabama-Birmingham (co-No. 34), Mississippi (61)

Bad Losses: None. Georgia’s lowest RPI loss is to co-No. 34 Temple on a neutral court.

Could help out: The Bulldogs have beaten RPI No. 93 Colorado (16-10, 5-6 & seventh in the Big 12), a team with a victory against then-No. 8 Missouri. They also defeated Arkansas State (14-13, 8-4 and tied for first in the Sun Belt West). Some opponents Georgia figured would rate higher in their leagues like Georgia Tech (10-13, 3-8 and 11th in the ACC) and St. Louis (8-16, 3-8 and 11th in the Atlantic 10) have had unexpectedly poor seasons, so those wins won’t help unless either the Yellow Jackets or Billikens win their conference tournament.

Games Left: 18th-ranked Vanderbilt (Feb. 16), at Tennessee (Feb. 19) at 15th-ranked Florida (Feb. 24), South Carolina (Feb. 26), LSU (March 2), at Alabama (March 5)

Projected Regular Season Record: 20-10 (9-7)

In or Out? In

Potential seed: The fact that Georgia played a very strong non-conference schedule, which included Notre Dame (RPI 9), Xavier (19), Temple (co-34) and UAB (co-34), will benefit the Bulldogs when they are stacked up against teams that didn’t test themselves as much before the league games began. If it comes down to Georgia or Alabama, two items will come into play: the head-to-head game March 5 in Tuscaloosa and the major differences in strength of schedule between the two teams.


Tennessee (15-10, 5-5 & tied for fourth in the East; RPI 28; Strength of Schedule 3)

Big Wins: neutral vs. Pittsburgh (9), Vanderbilt (16), Villanova (21), Memphis (33), at Georgia (41), Missouri State (46), Virginia Commonwealth (57), Belmont twice (60), at Mississippi (61)

Bad Losses: Southern California (101), Arkansas (104), Charlotte (195)

Could help out: The Vols also have defeated RPI 168 Middle Tennessee (14-12, 9-4 and second in the Sun Belt East) and RPI 211 Chattanooga (14-13, 10-5 and first in the Southern North), teams that could earn automatic bid by winning their conference tournaments.

Games Left: South Carolina (Feb. 16), Georgia (Feb. 19), at 18th-ranked Vanderbilt (Feb. 22), Mississippi State (Feb. 26), at South Carolina (March 3), 22nd-ranked Kentucky (March 6)

Projected Regular Season Record: 18-13, 8-8

In or Out? The Volunteers should get in with a good finish. Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said Tennessee is one of the best teams the Huskies faced all year.

Potential seed: The highest possibility likely is a 5 with the lowest being a 9 (and one of the last teams in). The Volunteers really went out and played a tough non-conference schedule, and victories against Pittsburgh and Villanova came when those two teams had top-7 rankings. Unless it just falls apart late, Tennessee’s strength of schedule will get the Vols into the tournament.


Mississippi (16-9, 4-6 & fourth in the West; RPI 61; Strength of Schedule 40)

Big Wins: Kentucky (14), Southern Mississippi (47), Penn State (63)

Bad Losses: Mississippi State (143)

Could help out: The Rebels also hold a victory against Murray State (20-6, 12-3 and first in the Ohio Valley). Due to the lack of respect given the OVC, the Racers may need to win their conference tournament to get into the NCAAs, as their RPI is 120 and they have no wins against anyone in the top 99. Still, that win can’t hurt Mississippi. RPI 182 Southeast Louisiana (12-10, 6-4 and tied for third in the Southland) could make a conference tournament championship run, as could RPI 198 Arkansas State (14-13, 8-4 and first in the Sun Belt West), RPI 202 Arkansas Little-Rock (14-12, 6-5 and fourth in the Sun Belt West) and RPI 204 Southern Methodist (15-9, 6-4 and fifth in Conference USA).

Games Left: Auburn (Feb. 16), at Mississippi State (Feb. 19), at South Carolina (Feb. 22), Alabama (Feb. 26), at Auburn (March 2), Arkansas (March 5)

Projected Regular Season Record:21-10 (9-7)

In or Out? The final six games on the schedule set up for a possible 5-1 or even 6-0 run, so with that, they’d be in. However, a mediocre or bad finish leaves the Rebels out.

Potential seed: Five at the best (winning out in the regular season and SEC Tournament), and 9 (being one of the last teams in) at the worst.

Mississippi State (13-11, 5-5 & second in the West; RPI 143; Strength of Schedule 101)

Big Wins: Florida (11), Mississippi (61)

Bad Losses: East Tennessee State (100), FAU (116), at Hawaii (180), Auburn (271)

Could help out: The Bulldogs have defeated RPI No. 147 Detroit (14-14, 8-8 and sixth in the Horizon League) , RPI 192 Appalachian State (12-13, 8-7 and third in the Southern North) and RPI 240 Nicholls State (11-11, 5-6 and fourth in the Southland North), each of who could surprise in their conference tournaments.

Games Left: at 22nd-ranked Kentucky (Feb. 15), Mississippi (Feb. 19), LSU (Feb. 23) at Tennessee (Feb. 26), at Arkansas (March 2), South Carolina (March 5)

Projected Regular Season Record: 16-14 (8-8)

In or Out? The Bulldogs need work, and it helps they only have one game left against a ranked team. Mississippi State also is hurt by being blown out in each of its seven losses to teams in the RPI top 99 (the closest was by 14 points at Alabama – the others were by 17, 22, 18, 31, 26 and 18, respectively). Right now, a home win against Florida just isn’t enough to get this talented, but enigmatic, team into the NCAAs. However, MSU has fared well in the SEC Tournament in the past, so what’s to say this year won’t be different?

Potential seed: At the very best a 6 and at the worst a 9 (being one of the last four to get in).

Arkansas (15-9, 5-6 & third in the West; RPI 104; Strength of Schedule 99)

Big Wins: at Vanderbilt (16), Tennessee (28), Alabama (81)

Bad Losses: at South Carolina (114), at Mississippi State (143) at LSU (219)

Could help out: The Razorbacks hold a victory against RPI 170 Texas Southern (13-10, 11-1 & first in the SWAC), which looks like a one-and-done NCAA Tournament team. RPI 222 Mississippi Valley (10-13, 10-3 & third in the SWAC) could win the SWAC Tournament if Texas Southern doesn’t.

Games Left: Florida A&M (Feb. 16), at Alabama (Feb. 19), 22nd-ranked Kentucky (Feb. 23), at Auburn (Feb. 26), Mississippi State (March 2), at Mississippi (March 5)

Projected Regular Season Record: 17-13 (6-10)

In or Out? Probably out. Like Mississippi State, an SEC Tournament championship would be the best bet for a bid.

Potential seed: At the very best a 6 and at the worst a 9 (being one of the last four to get in).

South Carolina (13-10, 4-6 & sixth in the East; RPI 119; Strength of Schedule 81)

Big Wins: at Florida (11), Vanderbilt (16), Clemson (75)

Bad Losses: at Furman (118), Auburn (271)

Could help out: The Gamecocks have defeated RPI 158 Wofford (11-4, third in Southern South) and RPI 194 Western Kentucky (12-13, 6-6 & third in the Sun Belt East), teams that aren’t completely out-of-the-question longshots to win the automatic bids that come with their conference tournaments.

Games Left: at Tennessee (Feb. 16), at 22nd-ranked Kentucky (Feb. 19), Mississippi (Feb. 22), at Georgia (Feb. 26), Tennessee (March 3), at Misssissippi State (March 5)

Projected Regular Season Record: 14-15 (5-11)

In or Out? If things go as projected, there is no way the Gamecocks get in. However, they can prove a lot late with games against four near NCAA Tourney-locks and two others desperately fighting for spots.

Potential seed: At the very best a 7 and at the worst a 9 (being one of the last four to get in).