Another week of SEC play meant another week of incredibly cut-throat competition.
The top teams in the SEC continued to beat each other up and some of the league’s top teams have sustained some immense letdowns during the past week.
All of this parity sets the SEC up for what should be an outstanding final two weeks. Six teams are within two games of first place in the standings and several teams will be fighting to prove they are worthy of earning an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s a look at where things stand with four games left in the regular season.
1. Texas A&M (20-7, 9-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 4
Last week’s results: Beat Ole Miss 71-56, beat Kentucky 79-77 in OT
The Aggies got back on track with two strong home victories. The win over Kentucky proves Texas A&M is still a contender in the SEC. The best news might be what lies ahead for the Aggies: Their next three games are against the three worst teams in the conference.
2. Kentucky (20-7, 10-4 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 1
Last week’s results: Beat Tennessee 80-70, lost to Texas A&M 79-77 in OT
The loss to Texas A&M could have gone either way, and Kentucky still seems to be playing its best basketball of the season. All four of Kentucky’s final opponents will be vying for an NCAA Tournament bid.
3. South Carolina (22-5, 9-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Last week’s results: Lost to Missouri 72-67, beat Florida 73-69 in OT
The loss to Missouri was inexcusable and this could have been a really bad week for the Gamecocks if they had lost to Florida. South Carolina had a 30-13 lead at one point in the first half and trailed 33-30 at halftime. But Frank Martin’s club proved it is battle tested and resilient by knocking off the scrappy Gators.
4. Florida (17-10, 8-6 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 7
Last week’s results: Beat Georgia 57-53, lost to South Carolina 73-69 in OT
The Gators were tested with two road contests against good teams and came out looking pretty solid. They return home Tuesday night for a pivotal contest against Vanderbilt.
5. Alabama (16-10, 7-7 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 5
Last week’s results: Beat LSU 76-69, lost to Mississippi State 67-61
The Crimson Tide came up with a big road victory against LSU, but followed that up with an ugly loss against bottom-feeder Mississippi State. Tournament teams don’t lose games at home to one of the worst teams in the conference. Alabama has clearly improved, but a road trip to Kentucky on Tuesday will show just how far the program has come.
6. LSU (16-11, 9-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Alabama 76-69, lost to Tennessee 81-65
Losing to Tennessee without Kevin Punter is about as inexcusable as it gets. Not only that, but the Tigers looked completely lethargic on Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn. Last week wasn’t exactly what many tournament committee members wanted to see from LSU. The Tigers need to turn things around quickly.
7. Vanderbilt (16-11, 8-6 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 6
Last week’s results: Lost to Mississippi State 75-74, beat Georgia 80-67
Vandy’s loss to Mississippi State was another brutal blow for its tournament hopes. The good news is Vanderbilt has won three of its past four games. The bad news is they may need to beat Florida on the road then knock off Kentucky at home this week to get off the bubble.
8. Ole Miss (17-10, 7-7 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 8
Last week’s results: Lost to Texas A&M 71-56, beat Auburn 69-59
The Rebels are kind of in SEC purgatory. They beat the teams they are supposed to and don’t do anything else overwhelming. The biggest storyline will be Stefan Moody, who is trying to finish the regular season as the conference’s leading scorer.
9. Georgia (14-11, 7-7 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 9
Last week’s results: Lost to Florida 57-53, lost to Vanderbilt 80-67
Georgia hasn’t been able to go on a run this season. The Bulldogs will get a chance to score a couple of wins against Auburn and Ole Miss this week, but UGA most likely won’t be making its second consecutive appearance in the big dance.
10. Mississippi State (12-14, 5-9 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 12
Last week’s results: Beat Vanderbilt 75-74, beat Alabama 67-61
Let’s give credit to Ben Howland, who has gotten his team to buy into the spoiler role. The Bulldogs have won three of four and showed some growth last week.
11. Tennessee (13-14, 6-8 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to Kentucky 80-70, beat LSU 81-65
It was a good week for Tennessee. They weren’t bludgeoned on the road against Kentucky and stole another quality win at home. The only problem is Tennessee has to go back on the road on Wednesday to face South Carolina.
12. Arkansas (13-14, 6-8 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 10
Last week’s results: Lost to Auburn 90-84, beat Missouri 84-72
The loss to Auburn at home hurt and is indicative of an inexperienced team. Arkansas could play spoiler once again as it wraps up its three-game homestand against LSU on Tuesday.
13. Missouri (10-17, 3-11 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Last week’s results: Beat South Carolina 72-67, lost to Arkansas 84-72
The Tigers knocked off one of the best teams in the conference at home on Tuesday night. That’s an accomplishment.
14. Auburn (10-16, 4-10 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Last week’s results: Beat Arkansas 90-86, lost to Ole Miss 69-59
Auburn snapped its seven-game losing streak, but then reality returned after a tough home loss to Ole Miss.