Last week, I was so certain that the SEC was stratifying. Then South Carolina beats Georgia, Miss State beats LSU, Florida beats Arkansas, and we start questioning everything again. Welcome to the maddening but never dull world of SEC basketball.
This week, thanks to a suggestion from my wife, we're ranking the teams and assigning which Superbowl commercial best describes their team.
1) Kentucky 19-0, 8-0 (#1 AP, #1 USA Today)
RPI: 2, KenPom: 1 Sagarin : 1
Kentucky won both games again last week. This week, their schedule includes a visit by Georgia and a trip to Florida. This is one of the trickier weeks of the season for the Cats but it would be surprising if they lost either game. Kentucky is Budweiser. They are unapologetic about being a macro organization and intend to keep overwhelming the increasingly competitive market for years to come.
2) Texas A&M 15-5, 6-2 (#26 AP, #31 USA Today)
RPI: 32, KenPom: 46 Sagarin : 47
Texas A&M took sole possession of second place in the SEC with wins over Auburn and Vandy. One could say that they were just doing what they were supposed to do against subpar competition, but in this year's SEC, that's more than most teams do. This week they have to travel to Ole Miss and Missouri. The Aggies have a chance to win both because they've really embraced this newfangled idea of basketball.
3) LSU 16-5, 5-3 (#40 USA Today)
RPI: 39, KenPom: 39 Sagarin : 52
LSU had a dissapointing week, splitting against South Carolina and Miss State, two teams they should have beaten. This week, LSU hosts the yellowhammer special with Auburn coming to town Thursday and Alabama visiting over the weekend. I expect them to win both because this team is big, powerful, and ready for action.
4) Arkansas 16-5, 5-3 (#28 AP, #26 USA Today)
RPI: 21, KenPom: 43 Sagarin :33
Arkansas beat Tennessee but lost to Florida last week. This week they get to host South Carolina and Miss State. Arkansas didn't look like themselves in the Swamp and are hungry for revenge.
5) Ole Miss 14-7, 5-3
RPI: 48, KenPom: 30 Sagarin : 48
Last week was a good one for Ole Miss. They beat Miss State and Missouri and remain on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. This week, they host Texas A&M and travel to Auburn. This Ole Miss team has a good chance to win both but is really inconsistent and is only sort of themselves sometimes.
6) Georgia 14-6, 5-3 (#42 AP)
RPI: 27, KenPom: 32 Sagarin : 41
Georgia looked to be in the top tier of the conference before South Carolina beat them last week by 17. This is a squad that's beaten a lot of decent teams but is yet to beat anyone really good. This week, they travel to Kentucky, then host Tennessee. Look for them to split again. Until further notice Georgia, you are the Avacados of Mexico. I'm sure it's a fine product but I don't know the point of them, you, or this commercial.
7) Florida 12-9, 5-3
RPI: 57, KenPom: 34 Sagarin : 35
Florida had a nice week, beating Alabama on the road and upsetting Arkansas at home. This week they get tested with a midweek trip to Nashville before hosting Kentucky. Florida isn't going to be a star this year but every now and then can put on some fireworks.
8) Tennessee 13-7, 5-3
RPI: 56, KenPom: 85 Sagarin : 79
Tennessee split last week, losing to Arkansas and beating Auburn. Tennessee is like an aging junkball pitcher. They create interesting matchup problems but I'm not convinced that they're actually good. This week, they host Miss State before traveling to Georgia. They could win both, could lose both, who knows? They're Tennessee. Tennessee you are the Doritos ad because Doritos turn everyone's fingers Tennessee orange.
9) Mississippi State 10-11, 3-5
RPI: 185, KenPom: 178 Sagarin : 160
Mississippi State has won three of its last five games including last weekend's win against LSU. This week, they travel to Tennessee and Arkansas. If they win one or both of those games (don't laugh, they could sweep), we'll have to stop treating Miss State like they were invisible.
10) Alabama 13-8, 3-5
RPI: 54, KenPom: 44 Sagarin : 55
Alabama has lost five of their last six including tilts last week against Florida and Kentucky. Alabama should win at least one this week when Mizzou comes to town but likely drops the weekend road trip to LSU. Alabama fans are dreaming of better days in the post Anthony Grant era.
11) South Carolina 11-9, 2-6
RPI: 92, KenPom: 41 Sagarin : 56
South Carolina snapped their losing streak last week, beating Georgia over the weekend. That win was enough to move them over Auburn this week despite the head to head loss in Auburn a few weeks back. This week, things get real as they travel to Arkansas and Vandy. Like the lovely Charlotte McKinney, South Carolina looked way more "natural" than they actually were at the start of the SEC season.
12) Auburn 10-11, 2-6
RPI: 160, KenPom: 150 Sagarin : 148
Auburn went 0-2 last week, dropping games to Texas A&M and Tennessee. This week, the road gets harder with a Thursday night road trip to LSU before a weekend showdown with the mercurial Ole Miss.
Tennessee. I will not soon forget the three iffy technical fouls that changed the momentum in that winnable game. That game turned me into Angry Neeson.
13) Vanderbilt 11-10, 1-7
RPI: 110, KenPom: 67 Sagarin : 76
In my initial power rankings, Vandy was 4th. They lost last week to Georgia and Aggie. This week, they get to host Florida and South Carolina. Vandy, you are this terrible Nissan commercial because you and the people who developed this ad are just missing the point.
14) Missouri 7-14, 1-7
RPI: 151, KenPom: 179 Sagarin : 173
Last week, Missouri dropped to 1-7, losing to Kentucky and Ole Miss by a combined 36 points. From an optimist's perspective, this shows improvement, seeing as how Kentucky beat them by 49 a few weeks ago. Congrats Mizzou. You are the dead boy commercial of SEC basketball.
Upset of the week: Mississippi State over Tennessee, February 3, 6 pm Central, SEC Network
Game of the week: Georgia at Kentucky, February 3, 6 pm Central, ESPNU