It seems as if the gulf between the SEC’s East and West divisions is only widening. Thus far, the West is collectively a pathetic 3-9 against the East, with Alabama accounting for two of the wins (over Kentucky and South Carolina) and Arkansas the other (over Tennessee).
Take this weekend for example. There were two East-West match-ups: Florida-Arkansas and Mississippi State-Georgia. Entering the two games, all of the four teams were either at or above a .500 record in conference, but the results of the two games? A 32 point Florida win and a 22 point Georgia win.
Thanks to the fact that each West team will play just six of their 16 conference games against the East, the records won’t look so bad. However, the West is going to completely lack for quality wins, which means that, in all likelihood, you won’t see a West team in the NCAA Tournament.
Notable Results from the Week That Was
Tennessee 59 Georgia 57
Alright, so Tennessee is 2-2 in conference play now by some miracle: more specifically, by two ridiculous referee non-calls. In this one, Vol big man Brian Williams grabbed an offensive rebound in one of the clearer over the back violations you will ever see and then had a fall away put back at the buzzer to win it. In their previous game, Vandy had the ball with a chance to take the lead with under a minute left when Jeff Taylor drove to the basket and was pushed over, causing him to fall and slide literally 12 feet across the floor. The call? Nothing. No foul on UT, no travel on Taylor, just a swallowed whistle by the refs.
Alabama 68 Kentucky 66
This was a good one. ‘Bama weathered a huge UK comeback to hold on late, but the ‘Cats showed guts in their rally. With the defense that the Tide plays, if they manage to hit 7-14 from three as they did in this game, they are a very tough out.
Vanderbilt 89 #22 St. Mary’s (CA) 70
A very nice late non-conference win for Vandy coming off of a number of close losses in other attempts for a quality win of that ilk. The Gaels have played some great basketball this season, but Vandy’s home floor and athleticism was too much for them to handle. The AP recap of the game called the win an “upset” which is slightly ridiculous, but the game was a mismatch in Vandy’s favor from the tip. Vandy had a 37-19 rebounding edge and held St. Mary’s to just 41.9% shooting.
South Carolina 81 Arkansas 74 (Wednesday)
Vanderbilt 84 Ole Miss 74 (Wednesday)
Florida 45 Auburn 40 (Thursday) – Yuck
Ole Miss 78 LSU 51 (Saturday)
UConn 72 Tennessee 61 (Saturday) – Bruce Pearl couldn’t help them
Georgia 86 Mississippi State 64 (Saturday)
Alabama 68 Auburn 58 (Saturday)
Kentucky 67 South Carolina 58 (Saturday)
Florida 75 Arkansas 43 (Saturday)
Games of the Week That Will Be
#24 Florida @ Georgia – Tuesday 7 PM – ESPN
Florida sits in first place in the East with a record of 4-1 and his ridden that start to a return to the polls this week. Whether they will remain there will be largely determined by how they play in a rejuvenated Stegeman Coliseum. In true road games, the Gators are 5-0 (with wins over Florida State, Tennessee, and Xavier), while Georgia has lost just once at home (that aforementioned garbage against Tennessee). This is a big one too because UGA has a trip to Rupp coming up Saturday and an 0-2 week is less than desirable.
#19 Vanderbilt @ Mississippi State – Thursday 7 PM – ESPN2
Vandy is in much the same boat that UK was in this past weekend: 0-2 on the road in conference play and needing to get off the snide badly in a winnable game. State, on the other hand, is pretty much out of chances to salvage their disaster of a season. They sit at 10-8, so a loss here would pretty much assure them that they would need to win the SEC Tournament to get in the Big Dance.
Georgia @ #14 Kentucky – Saturday 4 PM – ESPN
UK will have revenge on their minds and has all week to focus on their rematch with the Bulldogs, whereas Georgia has a big mid-week game. The ‘Cats need to put together a focused performance and dispatch Georgia at home to get to a much more comfortable 4-2 in conference play.
Other Games on the Schedule
Auburn @ Arkansas – 9 PM Tuesday – ESPNU
LSU @ Tennessee – 8 PM Wednesday – SEC Network
Florida @ Mississippi State – 1 PM Saturday – CBS
Auburn @ South Carolina – 1:30 PM Saturday – SEC Network
Tennessee @ Ole Miss – 4 PM Saturday – SEC Network
Arkansas @ Vanderbilt – 6 PM Saturday – FSN
LSU @ Alabama – 8 PM Saturday – FSN
1. Kentucky 15-4 (3-2) – They’ve had a couple road losses, but they seem to be back on track
2. Florida 15-4 (4-1) – I hesitate to put them here because I’m not really buying them, but they’ve earned it for now
3. Vanderbilt 14-4 (2-2) – They’re flawed, but still really good
4. Georgia 14-4 (2-2) – Tough week could leave them reeling
5. Alabama 12-7 (4-1) – Non-conference was rough, but the defense is very good
6. Tennessee 12-7 (2-2) – Will good wins save them come Selection Sunday?
7. South Carolina 12-6 (2-2) – Another good defensive team with poor offense
8. Arkansas 12-6 (2-3) – Pel might not survive
9. Mississippi State 10-8 (2-2) – Gamble on Renardo Sidney is not looking like a great one
10. Ole Miss 13-7 (1-4) – I really do think they’re better than they’ve played in the SEC
11. LSU 10-9 (2-2) – Too young and too offensively inept
12. Auburn 7-12 (0-5) – Is 0-16 possible?