What started out as a hopeful hoops season for the nation’s greatest football conference has quickly soured into something even Kevin Stallings wouldn’t eat. Once predicted (by Cal) to be a league worth seven bids, we now are looking at a group that’s more top-heavy than ever, and not at all deserving of getting half their number into the tournament.
CBS’ Jeff Goodman took a look last week at the league’s strength, and dropped some painful knowledge bombs on us Southeastern folks. The top, with Florida (and hopefully Kentucky eventually), looks pretty solid. The Gators look every inch like a Final Four team, and Playboy picked the Cats to repeat. So, there’s that. But apart from the usual suspects, the rest of the league is bad. Okay, that’s a little bit of an understatement; the rest of the league is awful. Imagine playing in a fantasy football league where seven of the fourteen owners don’t check the schedule or change their lineups. Yeah you can win, but do you really feel good about it? That’s sort of the SEC right now.
Vanderbilt, last year’s SEC tournament champs (how cute), is 2-4 with losses to Marist, Davidson, Oregon, and Villanova. Clearly Stallings can’t reload like Calipari can. Frank Martin’s terrifying eyes have only scared South Carolina into a 5-3 mark, and Missouri lost one of it’s best players to suspension. Oh, and unlike its former coach, Tennessee can’t seem to score over 40.
Alright, so we get it. The SEC is bad. But the important question is: how will that affect Kentucky? There are really a few options here, and we won’t know what happens until the Cats get their feet wet in league play starting next month. Until then, though, we’re free to speculate.
The first idea is that Kentucky loses a lot of games to a bad SEC and misses the tournament. We’ll just skip past that one like Billy G skipped past the O’Doul’s.
The second two options both have Kentucky winning a lot of SEC games, to mixed results. With the league in an overall state of ineptitude, it’s possible that Kentucky could pick up a nice record, like 12-4, or possibly even higher. The tournament committee could look at that record, and a possible SEC tourney title, and award the Cats a nice, high seed for the postseason festivities.
OR, that same committee could look at that same nice SEC record, and take into account that Helen Keller’s School for the Blind probably could have gotten the same record, and hit us with Calipari’s lowest seed of his UK tenure. It’s hard to get resume-building wins when nobody in your league is worthy of putting on a resume.
That’s what the SEC is presenting right now. There really isn’t much ability to lose several games AND get a good seed, because every loss (except to Florida and maybe Mizzou) will look bad. The only choice is to win, and win big, and hope that a solid record can overcome the lack of RPI in conference play. Oh, and a win against Louisville would be pretty nice, too.