JOE BIDDLE: SEC teams playing their way out of March Madness

JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: August 3, 2014 (Image 1)

It didn't take long for March Madness to keep SEC teams at home.

Two days after the calendar flipped, there were at least six SEC teams full of hope they could play their way into the NCAA Tournament.

Then reality set in. This has been a down year in the SEC from the start, and not much has changed from the opening tipoffs.

Florida is the only lock to make the NCAA Tournament field and the SEC's lone hope to go past the first two rounds.

Saturday's schedule was full of sink or swim games.

So, what happened? There was a lot of treading water.

Kentucky was boat-raced by Arkansas, losing by 13 points and leaving Coach John Calipari as frustrated as he has been all season. Kentucky entered the game as one of ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi's Last Four Teams In. The Hogs took care of that, if only temporarily.

If Kentucky wants to keep its NCAA Tournament streak alive, it has to play Georgia on the road Thursday and conclude play Saturday at home against Florida. The Cats need to win both of those games, get to 22-9 and 13-5 and they should make the Big Dance if they do anything at all in the conference tournament.

Alabama had its hopes doused by Florida and the Crimson Tide finds itself tied in SEC play with Kentucky with 11-5 conference records. UK has a better RPI and strength of schedule, so Bama has some work left to do.

Bama goes to Ole Miss Tuesday. It is a pivotal game for both teams. Neither team can afford to lose it. The Tide finishes up at home Saturday against Georgia.

Tennessee was the hottest team coming into Saturday, but saw its seven-game win streak derailed on the Midnight Train To Georgia. It was a trap game and the Vols fell victim by 10 points. The Vols will need to win the SEC Tournament to improve on its current 17-11 record, and a 9-7 SEC sheet. Their RPI was 56 before the loss and strength of schedule was 29.

The Vols were sluggish in many areas and Jordan McRae saved them from suffering an even deeper embarrassment. His offensive production was the only saving grace for Coach Cuonzo Martin's team.

The Vols should take care of Auburn Tuesday, but have a strong test against Missouri Saturday in Knoxville. They certainly can't afford another loss.

Missouri is in decent shape as the Tigers are 21-8 and 10-6 in SEC play. A 35 RPI and No. 50 strength of schedule could punch their ticket.

Nothing could save NCAA Tournament hopeful Ole Miss from terminal embarrassment, as the Rebels lost to arguably the worst team in the conference in Mississippi State. State was 7-20 on the season, 2-13 in SEC play.

Ole Miss has Alabama at home Tuesday and goes to LSU to wrap up its regular season. If Ole Miss fails to make the NCAA Tournament, I would not be surprised if Andy Kennedy is replaced as head coach after the season.

Going into the final week of regular season play, there is still some room for movement going into the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

Vanderbilt is the hottest team with a three-game win streak, but the Commodores are extreme longshots to win the automatic bid by winning the tournament. Vanderbilt is 7-9 in the SEC, 13-15 overall. Not exactly March Madness material.   

But then, there is not a lot of March Madness material in the SEC this season.

It's a by-product of a down year for so many teams. Therefore a lot of fans can't wait until next year.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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