If the SEC Tournament started today, Kentucky would be the No. 7 seed, playing No. 10 Georgia in the first Thursday night game to face LSU in the quarterfinals.
While the win over Tennessee was big for the Cats, it didn’t do much to move them from the middle of the pack; however, there are still opportunities to climb the standings, and maybe, just maybe, get a coveted double bye. Unfortunately, losing the Texas A&M game, a likely win, did not help.
Let’s break it down.
(Auburn is not eligible for postseason play)
1. Alabama (13-1, .929)
2. LSU (9-4, .692)
3. Arkansas (9-4, .692)
4. Florida (7-5, .583)
5. Tennessee (8-6, .571)
6. Missouri (7-6, .538)
7. Kentucky (7-7, .500)
8. Ole Miss (7-7, .500)
9. Mississippi State (6-8, .429)
10. Georgia (6-9, .400)
11. South Carolina (3-9, .250)
12. Texas A&M (2-6, .250)
13. Vanderbilt (2-10, .167)
Kentucky and Ole Miss don’t play each other until March 2, but the Cats currently own the tiebreaker. If a head-to-head result isn’t available, the won-lost results of the two teams versus the No. 1 seed (through No. 13 seeds, if necessary) comes into play. Both teams lost to Alabama, but Kentucky beat LSU, the No. 2 seed, whereas the Rebels lost to the Tigers back on Jan. 9.
Here is the bracket as of today, Feb. 22:
What does Kentucky need to do to get a double bye, or at the very least, stay in the bottom half of the bracket to avoid Alabama?
Win out (duh)
Coincidentally, Kentucky’s last two games are against two teams in the middle of the pack: Florida (No. 4) and Ole Miss (No. 8). Win out and you pick up two wins, give each of those teams a loss, and secure your hold on tiebreakers.
Hope one of these teams loses a game or two
There are three teams standing between the Cats and a double bye: Florida, Tennessee, and Missouri. Right now, the Gators are in fourth place in the league (7-5), followed by the Vols (8-6), and the Tigers (7-6). For Kentucky to have a shot at not playing on Thursday, it needs Florida to lose at least twice and Tennessee and Missouri to lose once. Here are the rest of their schedules:
- Florida: at Auburn (2/23), at Kentucky (2/27), vs. Missouri (3/3)
- Tennessee: at Vanderbilt (2/24), at Auburn (2/27)
- Missouri: vs. Ole Miss (2/23), vs. Texas A&M (2/27), at Florida (3/3)
Again, Kentucky can continue to do itself a lot of favors by just winning. Having wins over LSU and Florida helps when it comes to tiebreakers, but Missouri has one better: a win over Alabama. If Kentucky finds itself in a two-way tie with Missouri, that won’t even matter because the Tigers beat the Cats back on Feb. 2.
Cross your fingers for a good solution to the scheduling mess
There’s no way the SEC will be able to schedule all of the postponed games. With well over a dozen called off so far and only three days reserved for make-ups (March 5-7), it’s just not possible, especially when teams like South Carolina and Texas A&M need so many. Last week, the SEC started to shuffle things around to make sure every team plays 18 conference games, even if it means changing matchups.
Right now, Kentucky has played 14 league games, so it needs four more to make it to 18. Florida and Ole Miss are still on as scheduled. Will the SEC give Kentucky South Carolina and A&M or pair the Cats with other squads? Your guess is as good as mine.