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The Hateful Eight: Breaking down our toughest stretch of the season

#AggieHoops is in the middle of a very challenging eight game run. We discuss the battles ahead and the key games required to stay ahead of the pack.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Boy, that escalated quickly.

I started this article on a Tuesday afternoon, and by the time I picked it back up Kentucky had blown a 21 point lead and South Carolina had lost at Georgia.

So now... here we sit. With a one game lead on LSU + a tiebreak, a two game lead on Kentucky and South Carolina, and a three game lead on Florida (+ a tiebreak there, as well). That's a substantial lead. Really substantial. To say that Aggie Hoops is "in the driver's seat" doesn't really suffice, actually. We're driving a tricked out SUV with one (or maybe two) teams in the trunk, dragging the remaining eleven behind us in a uHaul.

But we might need every bit of that lead, as our loss at Arkansas was the first in a very challenging eight game run.

Date Opponent Record Result / Time
1/27 @ Arkansas 11-10 (4-4) L 71-74
1/30 #13 Iowa State 16-5 (5-3) W 72-62
2/4 @ Vanderbilt 12-9 (4-4) 6:00pm (ESPN2)
2/6 #25 South Carolina 19-3 (6-3) 3:00pm (ESPNU)
2/10 @ Alabama 11-9 (2-6) 6:00pm (SECN)
2/13 @ LSU 13-8 (6-2) 12:00pm (CBS)
2/16 Ole Miss 13-8 (3-5) 8:00pm (ESPN)
2/20 #20 Kentucky 16-6 (6-3) TBD (ESPN)

Week #1 (@Arkansas; #13 Iowa State)

We can open by acknowledging that any true #redass Aggie would never predict a loss (hiss, etc.) and close by agreeing that most A&M hoops fans would have gladly signed up for a split here. Losing to Arkansas is never fun, but this really was the 'preferable' way to split the week. Beating Arkansas and losing to ISU would have strengthened the "king of an incredibly weak conference" narrative, while the opposite gave us some serious national street cred.

So far, so good.

Week #2 (@ Vanderbilt; #25 South Carolina)

Vanderbilt was sinking fast to start the conference season, but they appeared to turn the ship around with a 4-1 stretch, and that loss came @ Kentucky. The 'dores then sailed to Austin, heads held high, and were promptly cut adrift by the Longhorns. And other nautical metaphors. Vandy was picked to finish 2nd in the SEC pre-season poll, but they've been wildly inconsistent all season. They're capable of handing us an L, but you never know which Vandy will show up.

The South Carolina game is much more simple. That needs to be a win. The Gamecocks are much improved, but we'll still be moderately heavy favorites to bring that one home.

Week #3 (@ Alabama; @ LSU)

Once again... I'd take a split if it was offered. Alabama really hasn't shown much this year, and anything other than a stinkbomb should be enough to get it done. As for the game at Baton Rouge... I'm getting frustrated just thinking about it. It's going to be two hours of ESPN anchors crowing over Ben Simmons, set against a backdrop of loud cajuns. I'll be watching, and you should, too... but maybe have some whiskey nearby.

Week #4 (Ole Miss; #20 Kentucky)

This is it. This is the week. A plucky Ole Miss squad stands between us and what could potentially the biggest home game (Kentucky) in a generation - a game that could pave the way to our first outright conference title in 36 years.

The rest of this month is all about setting the table for that game. If we play our cards right, we could be in a position to pull away with a very manageable four game stretch to close the season.