John Clay

John Clay: Re-seeding the teams for the men’s SEC Tournament

Kentucky guard Jamal Murray shot an imaginary arrow after hitting a three-pointer in the second half against LSU on March 5.
Kentucky guard Jamal Murray shot an imaginary arrow after hitting a three-pointer in the second half against LSU on March 5. palcala@herald-leader.com

With the men’s Southeastern Conference Tournament tipping off Wednesday night in Nashville, the seedings have been set. One problem, though. Those seedings are based on how the teams performed over the entire 18-game schedule, not how the teams are playing heading to Music City.

With that in mind, let’s re-seed (actual seed in parentheses):

▪ No. 1 Kentucky (2): It’s not just that the Cats have won seven of their last nine. It’s the scoring of Jamal Murray. It’s the leadership of Tyler Ulis. It’s the resurrection of Skal Labissiere. If not for that unfortunate technical foul on Isaac Humphries at Texas A&M two weeks back, Kentucky is the outright league winner and No. 1 seed.

▪ No. 2 Texas A&M (1): Billy Kennedy’s team won its last six games. Freshman Kyle Davis has averaged 13.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last five games. Scary stat: Texas A&M is the only SEC team with a winning road record in league play.

▪ No. 3 Vanderbilt (5): The Commodores were rolling before Saturday’s 76-67 loss in College Station. Kevin Stallings’ club still won four of its last five and six of its last eight. Senior center Damian Jones is the key to the ’Dores making a strong post-season run.

▪ No. 4 Mississippi (7): Thanks to improved health, Andy Kennedy’s team won four of its last five. Sebastian Saiz, back from injury, had 23 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s 23-point win at Tennessee. Stefan Moody, one of the five best players in the league, scored 43 points against Mississippi State last week.

▪ No. 5 Mississippi State (11): Don’t be fooled by the Bulldogs’ 7-11 league mark. After a 2-8 start, MSU went 5-3. It beat South Carolina and Vanderbilt at home and Alabama on the road. It lost by three at Florida and by six at Kentucky. Ben Howland knows the post-season.

▪ No. 6 Georgia (6): Mark Fox’s Bulldogs are always difficult to figure. They play hard. They don’t always score. They do hit the postseason on a three-game win streak. And a deep tourney run could get the NCAA Selection Committee’s attention. To do that, Georgia has to make some shots.

▪ No. 7 South Carolina (3): After a fast start, Frank Martin’s team limped to the finish line, losing four of its last seven. Sindarius Thornwell pulled the Gamecocks on his back at Arkansas on Saturday, scoring 22 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing six assists. He’ll need additional support in Nashville.

▪ No. 8 Florida (8): The Gators have been pretty good defensively. Not so offensively. Ken Pomeroy’s numbers put Florida 86th in the nation in offensive efficiency. Point guard Chris Chiozza is a key. When he’s going 1-for-9 (versus Kentucky last week), the Gators struggle. When he’s grabbing seven rebounds and dishing eight assists (versus Missouri on Saturday), Florida has a chance.

▪ No. 9 LSU (4): Despite their talent, the Tigers lack the discipline, togetherness and coaching to pull a Music City Miracle. LSU’s biggest problem is defense; it ranks 157th in defensive efficiency, according to Pomeroy’s numbers. Among SEC teams, only Tennessee and Missouri are worse.

▪ No. 10 Alabama (10): Not long ago ESPN’s Joe Lunardi included Alabama in his NCAA Tournament bracket projections. No more. The Crimson Tide has tumbled, losing four of its last five. Retin Obasohan could get hot in Nashville, but not hot enough to carry Bama far.

▪ No. 11 Arkansas (9): Just when you thought Arkansas had turned it around, winning four straight games, the Hogs were flattened 76-61 at home by South Carolina on Saturday. Mike Anderson pretty much has a one-man team. Moses Kingsley has been consistent. Every other Razorback has been inconsistent.

▪ No. 12 Auburn (13): Tony Barbee’s SEC record was 9-27 his last two seasons at Auburn. Bruce Pearl is 9-27 his first two seasons at Auburn. Lots of fanfare, not many wins. These Tigers have lost 10 of their last 12. Their best player, guard Kareem Canty, declared for the NBA draft on Feb. 11 after being suspended indefinitely.

▪ No. 13 Tennessee (12): Tennessee has tanked since losing its best player, Kevin Punter, to a stress fracture. Rick Barnes’ club has lost its last four and six of its last seven. No reason to think much will change in Nashville.

SEC men’s basketball standings

Seed

Team

W

L

W

L

1

Texas A&M

13

5

24

7

2

Kentucky

13

5

23

8

3

South Carolina

11

7

24

7

4

LSU

11

7

18

13

5

Vanderbilt

11

7

19

12

6

Georgia

10

8

17

12

7

Mississippi

10

8

20

11

8

Florida

9

9

18

13

9

Arkansas

9

9

16

15

10

Alabama

8

10

17

13

11

Miss State

7

11

14

16

12

Tennessee

6

12

13

18

13

Auburn

5

13

11

19

14

Missouri

3

15

10

21

SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament schedule

All times Eastern

Wednesday

8 p.m.: No. 12 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Auburn (SEC)

Thursday

1 p.m. No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas (SEC)

2:30 p.m.: Wednesday winner vs. No. 5 Vanderbilt (SEC)

7 p.m.: No. 7 Mississippi vs. No. 10 Alabama (SEC)

9:30 p.m.: No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Mississippi State (SEC)

Friday

1 p.m.: Florida-Arkansas winner vs. No. 1 Texas A&M (SEC)

2:30 p.m.: Tennessee, Auburn or Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 LSU (SEC)

7 p.m.: Mississippi-Alabama winner vs. No. 2 Kentucky (SEC)

9:30 p.m.: Georgia-Mississippi State winner vs. No. 3 South Carolina (SEC)

Saturday

1 p.m.: First semifinal (ESPN)

3:30 p.m.: Second semifinal (ESPN)

Sunday

1 p.m.: Championship game (ESPN)

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