By Zachary Harmuth
Another week gone by in ole’ SEC hoops, and no surprises here, just more of the same, with only a handful of games left before giggling March blooms into Madness and guffaw.
Behind Florida and Kentucky, clearly Nos. 1 and 2 in SEC, any one of eight teams, all within a few games of each other with just a few games left in the regular season, could climb, scratch, bite and shoot their way into the No. 3 spot without surprising anyone too much.
Florida, perfect now for three months, is indisputably king of the jungle (read: swamp). The national No. 1-ranked Gators snapped off their 19th and 20th straight wins this week- from Ole Miss and Vandy, though by only a combined seven points.
Vandy, 15-12 (7-8 SEC), lost by just three to Florida, 26-2 (15-0 SEC), coming closer than anyone has to knocking off the Gators since Arkansas, 19-9 (8-7 SEC), took them to overtime back in early January.Speaking of Arkansas, the Razorbacks held onto fourth place in SEC by beating Miss State and even knocking off then-No. 17-ranked Kentucky, 21-7 (11-4 SEC), on Thursday night in overtime 71-67.
Though the upset likely won’t be enough to put them in the top 25, it goes to show how deep the SEC is and how much fun the SEC Tournament, starting on March 12, will be to watch. A definite Any Given Sunday feel in the SEC right now—just so many good teams.
After Florida and Kentucky comes Georgia, 16-11 (10-5 SEC) in third- despite that LSU, UT, Ole Miss and Mizzu all won more games overall than the Bulldogs, none of them come close than two wins on their conference record. And, after beating Mizzu by 15 Tuesday, Georgia proved it deserves the bronze, or can at least hold onto it.
Tennessee, LSU and Ole Miss, all with identical 17-11 (8-7 SEC) records, will fight for the fourth spot, along with Arkansas and Mizzu, as the season runs down- and maybe Texas A&M, 16-12 (7-8) or Vandy could pull even if a star or two align.
And speaking of stars, the Volunteers host Vandy Saturday at noon. Look for the SEC’s third-leading scorer, UT’s Jordan McRae with 19.7 points per game, to have a big game in this internecine contest.
As for the bottom of the barrel, Auburn, 13-13 (5-10 SEC), might be a team to look out for—any team with Chris Denson, SEC’s leading scorer with 20.4 ppg, can win on any night.