A look into which teams have hopes of making the Big Dance as they enter the backstretch of regular season play.
*Seeding is provided from bracketmatrix.com where they have compiled rankings from over 30 leading bracketologists based on past accuracy*
Alabama 18-6 (13-2)
Best Seed: 2 // Worst Seed: 3 // Consensus: 2
The Tide are still looking like they will easily finish as the regular season conference champions in SEC. That being said, Nate Oats team has sputtered of late. Most recently they fell by 15 points to the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. They still are far and away the best team in the SEC from a metrics standpoint with the 29th ranked AdjO and 4th ranked AdjD.
My prediction: 3, Alabama is a very dangerous team for many reasons. They shoot a ton of threes and make 36% of them. They pair their fast-paced offense with lockdown defense that works to push teams late into the shot clock. I like Alabama against the majority of the teams in the country but they need to right the swaying ship before March. I see this as a team that can beat anyone and has Final 4 potential. I don’t like their chances against the likes of Gonzaga/Baylor/Michigan.
Floor: Sweet 16 // Ceiling: NCAA Championship // Guess: Elite 8
Arkansas 18-5 (10-4)
Best Seed: 3 // Worst Seed: 8 // Consensus: 5
The Hogs currently hold the SEC’s longest conference winning streak at eight wins. Many were worried after the 2-4 start to conference play but the doubters have since been silenced. They have relied on a stingy defense, ranked 15th in the country, to attack teams weaknesses. Eric Musselman has proven to be one of the best coaches in the conference this year as Arkansas looks prepared each and every game.
My prediction: 4, The red hot Razorbacks look to continue their success against LSU at home this Saturday. If they can win out in the regular season and win a game in the SEC tournament they will be positioned to earn a 3 seed. Regardless of seeding, they are one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball that looks poised to compete with nearly anyone. The Hogs have won every game they have been predicted to win so I see them with a high floor with a decent ceiling come March.
Floor: Sweet 16 // Ceiling: Final 4 // Guess: Sweet 16
Tennessee 16-6 (9-6)
Best Seed: 4 // Worst Seed: 8 // Consensus: 5
The Volunteers rely on their 3rd ranked defense and a slow pace. This has led to a respectable season. However, some would consider it to be an underperformance for a highly anticipated Tennessee team led by Rick Barnes. They struggle to score at times and are coming off a recent home loss to Kentucky where they were ultimately dismantled over 40 minutes of play.
My prediction: 5, The Volunteers have taken care of business for the most part against inferior teams but lacks any big wins at the moment. They are a team that should make it past the the round of 64 but does not seem to have high upside. That being said, they do have two five start freshman who are liable to change the trajectory of this team down the stretch.
Floor: Round of 32 // Ceiling: Elite 8 // Guess: Sweet 16
Missouri 14-7 (7-7)
Best Seed: 5 // Worst Seed: OUT // Consensus: 6
The Tigers have been very uninspiring of late. They suffered three straight losses including two with their star forward, Jeremiah Tilmon, missing due to a death in the family. Missouri is an interesting team that could move anywhere in seeding over the next few weeks. They don’t impress from a metrics standpoint, 39th AdjO and 65th AdjD, but that doesn’t take into account Tilmon’s absence.
My prediction: 10, The Tigers have to face Florida and LSU to finish up the season. If they drop both they will very much be a bubble team. I am surprised anyone has this team above the 8/9 line and see them ending up somewhere between 8-10. I think they sneed into March Madness to find an early exit.
Floor: OUT // Ceiling: Round of 32 // Guess: Round of 64
Florida 12-6 (8-5)
Best Seed: 5 // Worst Seed: 10 // Consensus: 7
Florida is a very balanced team, 34th AdjO and 26th AdjD, that has done well so far this year. Their resume stacks up nicely with wins at West Virginia and at home against Tennessee and LSU. Apart from a pari of ugly losses (Kentucky and South Carolina) the Gators look poised for post season play.
My prediction: 6, I like the Gators. They use a nice blend of guard play and are good in the paint as well. Their balanced approach leaves few weaknesses. Look for the Gators to surprise some teams down the stretch.
Floor: Round of 64 // Ceiling: Elite 8 // Guess: Sweet 16
LSU 14-7 (9-5)
Best Seed: 6 // Worst Seed: OUT // Consensus: 8
Will Wade is managing to waste a very talented LSU team yet again. They are as talented as anyone in the conference but have not performed at a high level. They have a dangerous offense, 7th AdjO, but struggle on defense with the 155th ranked AdjD. They have two opportunities to improve their resume to end the season at Arkansas and against Missouri.
My prediction: 7 The Tigers success will depend heavily on their seeding. They truly have the talent to beat anyone in the country but are inconsistent. They may be the toughest team to predict in March Madness. If they end up on the 8/9 line I would not want them in my bracket as a 1 seed.
Floor: Round of 64 // Ceiling: Final 4 // Guess: Round of 32
Ole Miss 13-9 (8-7)
Best Seed: 11 // Worst Seed: OUT // Consensus: OUT
The Rebels are currently on the outside looking in. What seemed impossible has changed as they have won five of their last six. They have an easy last three games and would need all three to move into the tournament. They struggle offensively but hold the 17th best defense in the country. They are led by Devontae Shuler and Romello White.
My prediction: 11, I think Ole Miss could very well sneak into the tournament. While it is an uphill battle they have looked up to the challenge of late. No one is going to want to see this team in the SEC tournament. The Rebels are looking great but I wouldn’t consider them a serious threat in the tournament.
Floor: OUT// Ceiling: Round of 32 // Guess: Round of 64
I have said all year I am not counting Kentucky out. At this point it would take a conference tournament championship to make the Big Dance but that isn’t impossible. Calipari has the young Wildcats playing better almost every week. Most recently, Kentucky knocked off Tennessee on the road in domination fashion. Do not be surprised to see them in the conference finals in early March.
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