Saturday was a crazy day around the Southeastern Conference basketball scene. When Mississippi State and Florida both
fell, two of the three ranked teams in the conference lost to teams currently situated near the bottom of the SEC standings.
Clearly -- and their win on the road to a tough Vanderbilt team Saturday is further proof -- Kentucky is the one shining star in the conference. The Wildcats are ranked first in the nation, and their six-point win over Vanderbilt yesterday with their 20-point win over eighth-ranked Florida this week show Kentucky is head and shoulders better than everyone else in conference play.
It's much tougher to determine where the rest of the SEC stacks up.
I think Florida is the next-best team, but the Gators have lost twice to Tennessee this season and have now lost two games in a row. Florida seems to be reeling at the wrong time.
It's either Mississippi State or Vanderbilt that should rank next in the SEC,but both those teams lost Saturday too. At least Vanderbilt lost to top-ranked Kentucky. Mississippi State lost to a suddenly-tough Georgia team with only three conference wins.
While I'm having trouble ranking the teams No. 2 through No. 4 in the SEC, what I'm also having trouble with is where to draw the NCAA Tournament bubble line.
I used to think the SEC had six, possibly seven teams that could make the Field of 68. Now, I'm thinking the SEC might only send Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt to the NCAA Tournament, and teams like Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss will be NIT-bound.
There is still a lot of conference basketball to play. Every team from Florida to Ole Miss in the current SEC standings needs to do some work separating themselves from the rest of the pack in order to shine to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
News from Around the South:
Alabama played against, and lost, to LSU Saturday with four key players missing. Don Kausler Jr., of the Birmingham News, wonders if Alabama would have beaten LSU had the team had those players.
Not only did Florida lose to Tennessee for the second time this season, forward Will Yeguete failed concussion tests in the locker room according to the Orlando Sentinel's Rachel George. He likely won't practice Sunday or Monday and is doubtful for Tuesday's game against Alabama.
Georgia has now won two-straight games and got its first SEC road win Saturday against No. 20 Mississippi State. David Brandt, of the Athens Banner-Herald, looks at freshman guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as a spark plug.
CSS Game Balls
Anthony Davis, Kentucky - The SEC's top freshman, and quite possibly the nation's best player, scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked seven shots in Kentucky's road win at Vanderbilt.
Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Georgia - Not only did Pope play 40 minutes in Georgia's overtime win over Mississippi State, he scored 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds to pace the Bulldogs.
Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee - In what was Tennessee's most well-rounded win of the season, Maymon put up a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Justin Hamilton, LSU - Hamilton scored 21 points against an Alabama team that was missing some firepower. He also added six rebounds.
Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro - The Spartans needed every one of Simpson's 28 points to come from behind and beat UT-Chattanooga on Saturday.
Its eye-opening. We can wake up today or we can be in the NIT. - Junior guard Kenny Boynton reacts after Florida dropped its second game in a row, a 75-70 loss to Tennessee.