Every possible outcome for Tennessee’s SEC tournament seeding

Next week’s SEC tournament picture is starting to come into focus.

The good news for the Tennessee basketball team: There is no way it will play in Wednesday’s dreaded first round reserved for the bottom four teams. Even if the Vols lose their home finale to South Carolina on Saturday, they can finish no worse than the No. 10 seed. And the Vols could climb as high as the No. 8 seed, but that would require a pretty shocking upset. More on that in a bit.

The bad news for UT: If it does jump up to the No. 8 or No. 9 seed, a win would secure a quarterfinals meeting with powerhouse No. 1 seed Kentucky instead of No. 2 seed Arkansas, a team the Vols split a series with this season.

Current league standings show No. 10 seed UT would play No. 7 seed Florida on Thursday (TV: SEC Network, 6 p.m.) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The winner would get Arkansas on Friday. But let’s break down how things could change.

First, seeds No. 1 through No. 6 are out of the Vols’ reach. All of those teams have a 10-6 conference record, or better. The Vols are 7-10 with only one game left to play. Seeds No. 11 through No. 14 are too far behind. They all have 5-12 conference records, or worse, with one game to go.

UT is still jostling with three teams: Florida (8-9 with Kentucky left to play), Vanderbilt (8-9 with Ole Miss left to play), and Alabama (7-10 with Texas A&M left to play).

The tiebreaker rules, straight from the SEC, read:

1. Two-Team Tie. The following procedure will be used in the following order until the tie is broken:
A. Won-lost results of head-to-head competition between the two teams.
B. Won-lost record of the two teams versus the No. 1 seed (and proceeding through the No. 14 seed, if necessary).
C. Coin flip by the Commissioner.

2. Three-Team Tie (or more). When three or more teams are tied, the following procedure will be used in the following order until the tie is broken. If two teams remain tied after a tiebreaker provision, the two-team tiebreaker formula will be used.
A. Best winning percentage of games played among the tied teams (Example:Team A is 3-1, Team B is 2-2 and Team C is 1-3 – Team A would be seeded highest, Team B second-highest and Team C lowest of the three).
B. Best winning percentage of the tied teams versus the No. 1 seed (and proceeding through the No. 14 seed, if necessary).
C. If two teams remain, coin flip by the Commissioner.
D. If three or more teams remain, draw by the Commissioner

Florida and Vanderbilt lose. Alabama and Tennessee win. Vols in a 4-way tie with Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama lose. Tennessee wins. Vols in a 3-way tie with Florida and Vanderbilt …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Tennessee
No. 10 seed Alabama

Florida loses. Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Alabama win. Vols land in a 3-way tie with Florida and Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 8 seed: Florida
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Florida, Tennessee and Alabama win. Vanderbilt loses. Vols land in a 3-way tie with Vanderbilt and Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Tennessee and Vanderbilt win. Florida and Alabama lose. Vols tie with Florida…

No. 7 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 8 seed: Florida
No. 9 seed: Tennessee
No. 10 seed: Alabama

Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama win. Tennessee loses. Vols tie with Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Florida and Tennessee win. Vanderbilt and Alabama lose. Vols tie with Vanderbilt …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed Tennessee
No. 9 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 10 seed: Alabama

*This scenario is the only way UT can get the No. 8 seed, but it would require Florida to beat unbeaten Kentucky.