There’s just one game left for each Southeastern Conference team, and even though all 14 teams are 17 games through an 18-game slate, only one seeding slot (Florida, No. 1) has been settled.
With so much unsettled, there are literally dozens of possible scenarios. Let’s take a look at the way things could pan out.
If the favorites win…
Saturday’s games are as follows:
• Florida (14-3) at Kentucky (11-6)
• Missouri (11-6) at Tennessee (10-7)
• Ole Miss (11-6) at LSU (9-8)
• Georgia (9-8) at Alabama (11-6)
• Texas A&M (7-10) at Arkansas (9-8)
• South Carolina (4-13) at Vanderbilt (7-10)
• Auburn (3-14) at Mississippi State (3-14)
According to Ken Pomeroy’s computer model (kenpom.com), Kentucky, Missouri, Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Auburn are expected to win those games. Pomeroy’s model is excellent, as is Jeff Sagarin’s, which picked the exact outcomes for each game.
So if that happened, here’s how the match-ups would line up:
12. Auburn vs. 13. South Carolina (6:30 Central)
11. Texas A&M vs. 14. Mississippi State (approx. 9:00)
8. Georgia vs. 9. LSU (noon)
Auburn/SC winner vs. 5. Kentucky (approx. 2:30)
7. Tennessee vs. 10. Vanderbilt (6:30)
TAMU/MSU winner vs. 6. Arkansas (approx. 9)
Georgia/LSU winner vs. 1. Florida (noon)
Auburn/SC/Kentucky winner vs. 4. Ole Miss (approx. 2:30)
Tennessee/Vanderbilt winner vs. 2. Missouri
TAMU/MSU/Arkansas winner vs. 3. Alabama
Winners of the top half of the bracket play Saturday, as do the winners of the bottom-half, with winners of those games emerging to play in the championship at noon on Sunday.
Flies in the ointment
Both models figure Vanderbilt to win handily, and like Alabama and Arkansas to post solid wins. All are home teams, and each should take care of business and lock in the respective seeds they’ve been given above.
Florida is a 4-point favorite at Kentucky by Sagarin, and a 9-point favorite by Pomeroy. The Wildcats aren’t the same team without sidelined star Nerlens Noel. UF handled them by 17 in Gainesville, and should do the same in Lexington.
The Missouri-Tennessee, Ole Miss-LSU, and Auburn-MSU matchups are all toss-ups, with the favorites all being the road teams. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy like Ole Miss by just a point; Pomeroy likes Missouri by 3 and Sagarin, by 1; Sagarin likes Auburn by a point, and Pomeroy, by 2.
But just for fun, let’s say all three home teams win. Alabama would have sole possession of the 2-seed, with Missouri, Kentucky and Ole Miss and Tennessee tied for third. Kentucky takes the 3-seed by virtue of a 3-1 record against those other three teams, with Ole Miss (3-2) landing the 4. Tennessee’s hypothetical win over Missouri gives the Vols the 5-seed, and the Tigers take sixth.
Arkansas and LSU, both 10-8 in this scenario, come next. LSU takes the 7-seed since it beat the Razorbacks head-to-head.
Georgia, Vandy and A&M would remain in the 9-11 spots. Auburn, the only 3-win team, would fall to 14, while Carolina, which beat MSU, gets the 12.
This would be the tournament schedule:
12. SC vs. 13. MSU
11. A&M vs. 14. Auburn
8. Arkansas vs. 9. Georgia
SC/MSU vs. 5. Tennessee
7. LSU vs. 10. Vanderbilt
A&M/Auburn vs.6. Missouri
Arkansas/Georgia vs. 1. Florida
SC/MSU/Tennessee vs. 4. Ole Miss
LSU/Vandy vs. 2. Alabama
A&M/Auburn/Missouri vs. 3. Kentucky
Speaking for our state’s two teams, I would think that both Vanderbilt and Tennessee would much prefer those draws to play out than the ones in the first scenario.
The Commodores might emerge as the bigger winner under the latter scenario, since they would not have to face the same Florida team that whipped them by 26 just two nights ago until a potential finals tilt.