So things are starting to become clear in the . . . . . hahahahahahahahaha no, it's still a random number generator. There are three major breaks in the conference: (1) Kentucky; (2) Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia; (3) Texas A&M, Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Florida; (4) Miss State, Auburn, South Carolina, Vandy, and Missouri. I'm getting to the point where I trust my eyes with these teams but the outcomes are still impossible to predict. Here's my best guess of where things are at the start of week 4 in the SEC.
1) Kentucky 17-0, 6-0 (#1 AP, #1 USA Today)
RPI: 2, KenPom: 1 Sagarin : 1
Kentucky went 2-0 this week and dropped to #2 in the RPI behind Kansas, a team it beat by 32 on a neutral court earlier this season.
This week, Kentucky gets to play poor Missouri again before hosting Alabama. Look for Alabama to play them closer than last time, but it would be a shock if UK isn't 6-0 in conference when next we speak. Blue Moon of Kentucky Keep on Shining.
2) Arkansas 15-4, 4-2 (#27 AP, #25 USA Today)
RPI: 22, KenPom: 46 Sagarin : 35
Arkansas had a really exciting week, playing what may have been the best basketball game of the year against Alabama before hanging on to beat Missouri on short rest on the road. I don't think they deserved to drop in the polls like they did this week. My feelings for Arkansas: It's Not Love, But It's Not Bad.
The schedule this week is challenging with a home tilt against Tennessee and a road trip to Gainesville. Arkansas should win both.
3) LSU 15-4, 4-2 (#36 AP, #37 USA Today)
RPI: 39, KenPom: 35 Sagarin : 47
LSU had a tough schedule, traveling to Florida and Vandy yet somehow won both games. This week, LSU's schedule improves, hosting South Carolina before traveling to the Hump to play Miss State. In both games, the Tigers will go WHEEEEEEEEEE, Another Man Done Gone as they improve to 6-2 in conference.
4) Georgia 13-5, 4-2 (#32 AP, #40 USA Today)
RPI: 24, KenPom: 27 Sagarin : 37
Georgia swept the state of Mississippi this week and is starting to look like it belongs in the conversation for best SEC team, non-Kentucky division. I put a break in the poll here because I think of Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia as being markedly better than the next group of teams. Georgia's schedule stays relatively soft this week with a home game against Vandy and a trip to South Carolina. They have a good chance to win both. What else is there to say, When You're Hot, You're Hot.
5) Texas A&M 13-5, 4-2 (#39 AP, #41 USA Today)
RPI: 34, KenPom: 55 Sagarin : 57
Texas A&M has been taking care of business lately after a rough start to conference play against Alabama. They have a four game winning streak including wins last week against Missouri and Tennessee. If they maintain that consistency by beating Auburn and Vandy this week, I may need to bump them up in the rankings next week. Aggie is peaking and deserves a peak Texas song. So here's the pinnacle of Texas culture, Ray Wylie Hubbard singing Redneck Mother at Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic in 1974:
6) Alabama 13-6, 3-3
RPI: 46, KenPom: 45 Sagarin : 55
Alabama had the most exciting week last week, losing in heartbreaking fashion at Arkansas and pulling out a close, emotional win against Auburn. Look for them to split again this week, beating Florida and losing close to Kentucky. Anthony Grant will have to do better to get out of the fans' dog house. This is an NCAA tournament or bust year for him.
7) Ole Miss 12-7, 3-3
RPI: 45, KenPom: 34 Sagarin : 50
Ole Miss has struggled lately against really good competition. This week, they get two games they should win against Miss State and Missouri. The team that beat Arkansas and almost beat Kentucky would sweep those games. We'll see if that team shows up. Ole Miss is just getting by on getting by, letting the high times carry the low.
8) Tennessee 12-6, 4-2
RPI: 54, KenPom: 84 Sagarin : 81
Tennessee is one of the few SEC teams that's been better on the road than at home. They're also a team that I'd love to rank higher if they weren't so inconsistent. Last week, they beat South Carolina in Columbia then lost to Texas A&M on Rocky Top. This week they host Arkansas (who they beat on the road earlier this year), then host Auburn. 2-0? 0-2? Your guess is as good as mine. They look like the real deal but they may just be Coca Cola Cowboys.
9) Florida 10-9, 3-3
RPI: 81, KenPom: 37 Sagarin : 45
Florida is another cut point. They're better than the five teams below them. Florida started off the SEC season hot but have lost their last three. The schedule doesn't get easier this week as they travel to the Plaid Palace to play Alabama, then come home to host Arkansas. This team is too good to get swept again this week. They're tired of being Lonesome, On'ry and Mean:
10) Miss State 9-10, 2-4
RPI: 198, KenPom: 201 Sagarin : 180
State is below .500 for the year but they're the hottest of the bottom five conference teams. Their computer rankings are low but right now, I like them better than the teams below them. Their last four games have been close and they're 2-2 in those contests. Last week, they beat Auburn on the road and lost a close one to Georgia at home. This represents a huge jump for Miss State in the Power Poll. This week as they travel to Ole Miss and host LSU, let's see if we can tell, they've never been this far (in the SEC standings) before (ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty):
11) Auburn 10-9, 2-4
RPI: 133, KenPom: 145 Sagarin : 144
Oh Auburn. Rough week for us last week, dropping close losses to Miss State and Alabama. Here's me after both games.
Stand by Your Man, Tiger fans.
Look for Auburn to win at least one this week as they host Texas A&M and travel to Tennessee.
12) South Carolina 10-8, 1-5
RPI: 115, KenPom: 51 Sagarin : 66
South Carolina had a promising season coming into conference play. They destroyed a decent Clemson team and beat a very good Iowa State team. Now, they're 1-5 including close losses last week to Tennessee and Kentucky. No rest for the wicked (Carrerra) this week as they travel to LSU and host Georgia. For the first three week of SEC play, South Carolina has woken up Sunday morning with no way to hold their heads that didn't hurt.
13) Vandy 11-8, 1-5
RPI: 108, KenPom: 66 Sagarin : 72
Vandy is on a five game skid. What happened to the Vandy that played us? This week, Vandy travels to Georgia and Texas A&M. The slide is likely to continue. Nashville is rough on the living (but she surely speaks well of the dead).
14) Mizzou 7-12, 1-5
RPI: 149, KenPom: 162 Sagarin : 167
Economists have renamed the Misery Index the Missouri Index. They haven't won since the conference opener against LSU and this week, they get to host Kentucky (who beat Missouri by 49 two weeks ago). The Tigers who survive get to play Ole Miss on short rest Saturday. This is a scrappy team and a program that can be rebuilt, just not this year. This year they're playing solitaire till dawn with a deck of 51.
Game of the Week: Alabama at Kentucky Saturday, January 31, 6 pm CST, SEC Network, Honorable Mention Miss State at Ole Miss Wednesday, January 28, 8 pm SEC Network
Upset of the Week: Mississippi State over LSU, Saturday, January 31, 1 pm CST, SEC Network