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Okay, it’s officially March.
So we’re going to pivot a bit of attention to present-day madness.
Namely, the current SEC basketball standings.
Kentucky is by far the best team in the country and the SEC and will be the number one seed in the SEC tournament.
That’s the easy part.
But what about the rest of the league? It’s confusing.
Really, really confusing. Especially since this is the first year without divisional seeding.
So I did my best to break it down.
The only two guaranteed slots at this point are Kentucky as the #1 seed and South Carolina as the #12 seed.
After that things get a bit tricky up at the top.
So let’s resolve the tourney byes first.
We know that these four teams: Florida, Vandy, Alabama, and Tennessee will be seeded 2-5. That is, all but one of these teams will receive a bye in the tournament. What’s more, we know that Florida and Vandy have guaranteed themselves a bye in the tournament. So there’s really only one spot left, but there are many seed possibilities for each of these teams.
And you won’t know everything until Sunday afternoon.
Hopefully you’re not waiting until the last minute for your tourney reservations in New Orleans.
Here we go:
If Florida beats Kentucky on Sunday then the Gators would be the #2 seed.
If Vandy beats Tennessee then the Dores would be the #3 seed and Alabama would be the #4 seed regardless of whether it beats Ole Miss or not since a 9-7 Alabama team would own a tiebreak over a 9-7 Tennessee.
If Tennessee beats Vandy then the Vols would be either the 3 seed or the 5 seed depending on whether or not Alabama beat Ole Miss. If Alabama beats Ole Miss then the Tide are the 4 seed in this scenario and UT is the five. Vandy would be either the 3 with a victorious Alabama as the 4 or the 4 with UT as the three seed if Alabama lost.
If Kentucky beats Florida — which seems likely unless John Calipari decides to tank the game on purpose — then even more scenarios are in play.
If Vandy beats Tennessee then the Dores are the outright #2 seed at 11-5. Florida would be the #3 seed — holding a tiebreak over #4 Alabama even if the Tide beat Ole Miss and UT is the #5 seed. That’s fairly easy.
If Tennessee beats Vandy then you have a mess — either three or four teams tied for second in the SEC at 10-6. In a three or four team tie, Tennessee wins the tiebreaks to become the #2 seed. Why? In a three-way tie you look at the record among existing teams — here Vandy, UT, and Florida — UT beat the Gators twice whereas everyone else split. So the Vol record would be 3-1 against these four while Vandy would be 2-2 and Florida would be 1-3. Hence UT gets the 2, Vandy the 3, and Florida the 4. Meanwhile Alabama would get the five seed.
If Alabama also beats Ole Miss to make this scenario a four way tie then the result remains the same — Vols are 3-2, Vandy is 3-2, Florida is 2-3, and Alabama is 1-2. So Vols are 2, Vandy is 3, Florida is 4, and Bama is 5.
If you want all the possibilties:
Alabama is locked in to the 4 or 5 seed no matter what.
Tennessee can be the 2, 3, or 5 seed.
Florida can be the 2 or 4 seed.
Vandy can be the 2, 3, or 4 seed.
Okay, that exhausts the scenarios for seeds 1-5.
One takeaway, it’s a good deal for the old SEC East teams that divisions don’t exist any longer. That’s because the four top teams in the SEC this year may well end up being from the old SEC East. For the past twenty years two SEC West teams would have stolen byes despite being inferior conference teams. That’s especially the case when you consider that this year Florida, Vandy, and Tennessee still had to play Kentucky twice this season, adding an extra loss than no old SEC West team had.
So what happens in spots 6, 7, and 8.
Well, we know the teams, it’s going to be Mississippi State, LSU, and Ole Miss, probably.
Mississippi State hosts Arkansas, Ole Miss hosts Alabama, and LSU is at Auburn.
All three of these teams could either end up 8-8 or 7-9.
If there’s a 3 way tiebreak at 8-8 then, you guessed it, all three of these teams are 2-2 against each other. (Mississippi State wins a one-way tiebreak at 8-8 against either of these teams).
The next step would be who beat the top finishing team.
Mississippi State beat Vandy and Tennessee.
Ole Miss and LSU didn’t beat any of the top five teams.
So if Mississippi State wins it will be your six seed. Guaranteed. But if Mississippi State loses, as you’ll see below, it could fall all the way to the 9 seed.
Then who will be the 7 and 8 seeds between Ole Miss and LSU if all finish in an 8-8 tie? God knows. Both of these teams split with Alabama and neither beat Kentucky, Florida, Vandy, or UT. Both teams split with State and split with each other. But Ole Miss swept Arkansas. So Ole Miss would be your 7 and LSU would be your 8.
So if Ole Miss beats Alabama it will be a 6 or 7 seed. If it loses, it will be a 6,7, or 8 seed depending on the other game outcomes.
If LSU beats Auburn it could still be a 6, 7, or 8 seed. And if LSU loses it would be a 8 or 9 seed.
If there’s a four-way tie at 7-9 — this would require Arkansas to beat Mississippi State and for Alabama to beat Ole Miss and Auburn to beat LSU — then Ole Miss is your 6 seed, Arkansas is your 7 seed, LSU is your 8 seed, and Mississippi State falls all the way down to the 9th seed. (The head-to-head four-way tiebreak records would be Ole Miss 4-2, Arkansas 3-3, LSU 3-3, and Mississippi State 2-4; Arkansas beat Vandy to claim the 7 seed).
If Arkansas loses it’s the 9 seed, if it wins it could be the 7 or 8 seed.
Looking at the bottom of the SEC, the 10 and 11 seeds, you know it’s going to be Georgia and Auburn in these spots.
If the teams both teams finish 5-11 in conference Auburn holds the tiebreak. So Auburn is your 10 and Georgia is your 11 in the event of tie.
Regardless, the 10 and the 11 is pretty straighforward.
As is the 12 seed which South Carolina has locked up.
It’s truly amazing how many outcomes we could still have before Sunday’s Kentucky Florida game completes the season.