So, we're six games in... and we're starting to learn a few things. We have Kentucky at 6-0, five teams at 4-2, and three teams at 3-3.
The Ags have done well to position themselves in that second group... but there's a great deal of separation coming in the next six weeks. So let's take a look around the SEC and start talking about what the Ags need to do to make a real run at the dance.
This time, we'll list the schools by SEC conference record, then by descending RPI to break any ties. You can see an explanation of the RPI at our overall conference preview.
Good wins, bad losses, and big upcoming games are in bold.
Tier 1: Kentucky
Kentucky Wildcats (6-0; 19-0 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 2 (behind three-loss Kansas. Derp.)
SEC Wins: Ole Miss, @TAMU, Mizzou, @Alabama, Vandy, @South Carolina
SEC Losses: lol
Next Six: @Mizzou, Alabama, Georgia, @Florida, @LSU, South Carolina
In 140 characters or less: We pissed them off. Kentucky has steamrolled their last four opponents, looking every bit like the consensus #1 team in the country.
Tier Two: Good, but not Kentucky good
Arkansas Razorbacks (4-2; 15-4 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 21
SEC Wins: @Georgia, Vanderbilt, Alabama, @Mizzou
SEC Losses: @Tennessee, Ole Miss
Next Six: Tennessee, @Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi St, @Auburn, @Ole Miss
In 140 characters or less: The Hogs won their last two games by the skin of their teeth. The rest of the conference appears to be catching up to their brand of basketball.
Georgia Bulldogs (4-2; 13-5 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 22
SEC Wins: @Vanderbilt, Florida, Ole Miss, @Mississippi St
SEC Losses: Arkansas, @LSU
Next Six: Vanderbilt, @South Carolina, @Kentucky, Tennessee, @Texas A&M, Auburn
In 140 characters or less: We aren't the only 4-2 team with a four game winning streak. An 0-2 start is a thing of the past for the rapidly improving Bulldogs.
Fightin' Texas Aggie Basketball (4-2; 13-5 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 35
SEC Wins: Mississippi St, @LSU, Mizzou, @Tennessee
SEC Losses: @Bama, Kentucky
Next Six: @Auburn, Vanderbilt, @Ole Miss, @Mizzou, Georgia, Florida
In 140 characters or less: In their last five games, they are 4-1 with a 2OT loss to the #1 team in the country. This includes two huge RPI wins @LSU and @Tennessee. Looking like a very tough out.
LSU Tigers (4-2; 15-4 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 38
SEC Wins: Georgia, @Ole Miss, @Florida, @Vanderbilt
SEC Losses: @Mizzou, Texas A&M
Next Six: South Carolina, @Mississippi St, Auburn, Alabama, Kentucky, @Tennessee
In 140 characters or less: Four of their next five are at home, sandwiched around a road game at patsy MSU. Could make a run soon, but could regret that season-opening loss at Mizzou.
Tier 3: Can't really figure these guys out
Tennessee Volunteers (4-2; 12-6 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 55
SEC Wins: Arkansas, @Mississippi St, @Mizzou, @South Carolina
SEC Losses: Alabama, Texas A&M
Next Six: @Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi St, @Georgia, @Vanderbilt, LSU
In 140 characters or less: I think the Vols are the Texas A&M of last season. Their nice start, aided by the schedule, is slowly beginning to crumble. I just don't see enough talent to hold up to the grind.
Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels (3-3; 12-7 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 44
SEC Wins: South Carolina, @Arkansas, Florida
SEC Losses: @Kentucky, LSU, @Georgia
Next Six: Mississippi St, @Mizzou, Texas A&M, @Auburn, @Florida, Arkansas
In 140 characters or less: 3-3 isn't bad considering 5 of their first 6 were against top-half SEC squads. The schedule starts to break their way soon, my best bet to start climbing rapidly.
Alabama Crimson Tide (3-3; 12-6 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 45
SEC Wins: Texas A&M, @Tennessee, Auburn
SEC Losses: @South Carolina, Kentucky, @Arkansas
Next Six: Florida, @Kentucky, Missouri, @LSU, @Mississippi St, Vanderbilt
In 140 characters or less: It's gut check time. A 2-0 start is long gone, and things are about to get real for the Tide. UF/UK/LSU in their next four will tell us what we need to know.
Florida Gators (3-3; 10-9 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 82
SEC Wins: @South Carolina, Mississippi St, Auburn
SEC Losses: @Georgia, LSU, @Ole Miss
Next Six: @Alabama, Arkansas, @Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ole Miss, @Texas A&M
In 140 characters or less: The Gators beat bottom-half teams, and they lose to top-half teams. The nation keeps waiting for a resurgence, and I just don't see it.
Tier four: Meh.
Auburn Tigers (2-4; 10-9 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 130
SEC Wins: Missouri, South Carolina
SEC Losses: @Vanderbilt, @Florida, @Alabama, Mississippi St
Next Six: Texas A&M, @Tennessee, @LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, @Georgia
In 140 characters or less: The opposite of Ole Miss. Even with an easy schedule, they are only 2-4... and it's about to get difficult. Inexcusable home loss to Mississippi St.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-4, 9-10 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 198
SEC Wins: Vanderbilt, @Auburn
SEC Losses: Tennessee, @Florida, @Texas A&M, Georgia
Next Six: @Ole Miss, LSU, @Tennessee, @Arkansas, Alabama, @Mizzou
In 140 characters or less: This next four-game stretch should cement the Bulldogs' status at or near the cellar. But at least they have showed some fight since an ugly 0-2 start.
Vanderbilt Commodores (1-5, 10-8 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 71
SEC Wins: Auburn
SEC Losses: @Arkansas, Georgia, @Mississippi St, @Kentucky, LSU
Next Six: @Georgia, @Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, @Alabama
In 140 characters or less: That SEC-opening win over Auburn was a looooong time ago. The 'dores have fought hard, but have ultimately come up short in their last five.
South Carolina Gamecocks (1-5; 9-8 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 116
SEC Wins: Alabama
SEC Losses: Florida, @Ole Miss, @Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky
Next Six: @LSU, Georgia, @Arkansas, @Vanderbilt, Missouri, @Kentucky
In 140 characters or less: It has been all downhill after a really nice neutral site win over Iowa State... only a tight home win over Alabama prevented an 0-6 start.
Missouri Tigers (1-5; 6-12 overall)
RPI as of 1/25: 150
SEC Wins: LSU
SEC Losses: @Auburn, @Kentucky, Tennessee, @Texas A&M, Arkansas
Next Six: Kentucky, Ole Miss, @Alabama, Texas A&M, @South Carolina, Mississippi St
In 140 characters or less: A carbon copy of Vanderbilt. Fights hard... but in the middle of a five game freefall. Terribly unlucky to miss out on a great win over Arkansas.
One final note: Things have generally been breaking A&M's way in non-conference land, as well. Dayton (#21) and Baylor (#22) continue to cling to the AP Top 25, which should keep those teams in the always preferable "good loss" category. And Kansas State's mere inclusion in the Big XII RPI-beast should make that loss look good enough, as long as they continue to steal a couple of games periodically.
Our wins don't look too shabby, either. New Mexico is 5-3 in conference, while Sam Houston State, Mercer, and even Hartford will be tough outs in their respective conference tourneys. All in all, the non-conference slate (while not perfect) appears to have done its job.
It's job, course, was to make us NCAA-relevant. With the improved reputation of SEC basketball starting to take hold (who saw that coming?), five bids are starting to look probable. If we continue to take care of business at home, we could be looking at a top five seed in the conference. Lock that down, and we can starting sweating bullets on selection Sunday.
Let's wrap up with my end of season predictions for the SEC regular season.
- Kentucky (17-1)
- Arkansas (13-5)
- LSU (12-6)
- Florida (11-7)
- Texas A&M (11-7)
- Georgia (10-8)
- Ole Miss (10-8)
- Alabama (9-9)
- Tennessee (9-9)
- Auburn (7-11)
- South Carolina (5-13)
- Vanderbilt (5-13)
- Mississippi State (4-14)
- Missouri (3-15)