If you had told me about the sentence I am about to write three weeks ago, I would have laughed you out of the building. Or, at least, I would have stopped following you on twitter. But, after seeing what I've seen over the past four games I'm ready to say this:
LSU has played its way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble.
As the calendar turned to February, LSU had a 12-9 record overall with a 2-5 Southeastern Conference mark. Their RPI was a better-than-expected No. 77 and the Tigers had just lost three games in a row and six of their last eight.
Since Feb. 1, LSU is 3-1 with wins over Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi State and is just a game away in the win column from third place in the SEC.
When the Tigers erased a 9-point deficit Tuesday in the final 12 minutes of the game to beat Mississippi State by two points in overtime, I took a quick look at the rest of LSU's schedule.
So did Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who took a closer look at LSU's win last night, and like me, found a very favorable schedule for the rest of the way.
None of the Tigers' five remaining opponents have a winning record in SEC play: South Carolina (1-9), Georgia (3-7), Ole Miss (5-5), Tennessee (5-5), Auburn (3-8).Kleinpeter feels that if the Tigers can finish the season 3-2 they could sneak into the NIT with am 18-12, 8-8 record. I wonder if they run the table would LSU not get invited into the Field of 68 with a 20-10, 10-6 record?
It would likely take a win or two in the SEC Tournament for LSU to get into the NCAA Tournament since the average RPI of its remaining five opponents is 112.8, but it's possible.
Anything is possible.
News from Around the South:
Florida trounced Alabama on Tuesday, but Don Kausler Jr. of the Birmingham News talks about the score being less indicitive of the way the Crimson Tide played. In all but a five minute stretch when Florida went on a 16-0 run, Alabama played pretty well.
I completely disagree with coach Rick Stansbury here. Brad Locke of the Daily Journal wrote about a Stansbury quote where he said Mississippi State was the underdog Tuesday at LSU.
Jordan McRae is becoming more of a complete basketball player for the Tennessee Volunteers, the 6-foot-6 sophomore told Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. McRae has 23 rebounds in his last six games, which is the same amount he had in the previous 12 games prior.
CSS Game Balls
Ralston Turner, LSU - Sure Anthony Hickey hit the final shot Tuesday with 1.4 seconds left to beat Mississippi State. But Turner led the Tigers with 17 points and five boards and three assists.
Devin Booker, Clemson - Booker didn't lead the Tigers with his 10 points, but he did score all 10 in the second half to help Clemson pull away from Virginia after being tied at 24 at halftime.
Chris Gradnigo, Coastal Carolina - Coastal is still three games behind UNC-Asheville in the Big South standings, but Gradnigo's 15 points and 13 rebounds help the Chanticleers gain some momentum as they head into the conference tournament.
I have to go back and watch the film, but its hard to say if there was anything I did like. Obviously we shot 28 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers for the game. Its hard to find something positive in that." Alabama coach Anthony Grant after being asked what he liked about his team during Tuesday's 61-52 loss to Florida.
What to Watch Wednesday
Georgia at South Carolina, 7 p.m. ET on CSS - If Georgia can beat South Carolina tonight on the road the 'Dawgs will become just the fifth team in teh SEC to win three consecutive conference games this year.
(8) North Carolina at Miami, 8 p.m. ET - Miami is threatening to make a push into the NCAA Tournament. A win over the Tar Heels would be a great resume builder.