KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s series-clinching victory over Kentucky on Sunday was doubly meaningful for the Vols.
At 10-14, Tennessee now wins the tiebreaker over Kentucky and climbs to the No. 10 seed in the SEC tournament. The recent struggles of Auburn, Missouri could give the top 12 teams a bit of a buffer in the league standings.
I think 11 of the league’s 14 teams have NCAA-quality resumes. (Everyone except Georgia, Auburn and MIssouri.) That could create a lack of suspense in Hoover, Ala., particularly if the bubble team(s) are bounced quickly in the single-elimination portion.
The Vols are in decent shape, with an RPI ranked 30th in the nation. (A No. 27 ranking in the Sagarin ratings validates that nice RPI number.)
Tennessee has six SEC games remaining — three at Mississippi State and then three at home against Florida — and two non-conference games. If the Vols go 4-4 in that stretch, their projected RPI ranking would be 37th. While that would probably be enough, although UT would prefer a bigger cushion.
Here’s how the SEC tournament bracket would look if the tournament began now:
1. Florida (East champ)
2. Ole Miss (West champ)
3. Mississippi State
6. South Carolina
8. Texas A&M
13. Auburn (not qualified)
14. Missouri (not qualified)
SINGLE ELIMINATION PORTION (loser is eliminated)
No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 11 Kentucky
No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 Tennessee
No. 8 Texas A&M vs. No. 9 Arkansas
No. 5 LSU vs. No. 12 Georgia
DOUBLE ELIMINATION PORTION
Alabama-UT winner vs. No. 2 Ole Miss
LSU-UGA winner vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt
TAMU-Arkansas winner vs. No. 1 Florida
USC-UK winner vs. No. 3 Mississippi State
You can follow the rest of the bracket here (.pdf file).