When the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee reveals its current top 16 seeds Saturday, a month out from Selection Sunday, the Southeastern Conference could have two teams represented as No. 1 seeds.
But after Tennessee and Kentucky will any other SEC teams be among the No. 1 through No. 4 seeds revealed in the mock bracket?
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has eight SEC teams in his most recent projected tournament field but only includes Tennessee (the South No. 1) and Kentucky (the East No. 2) among the top four seeds in each region.
LSU, which is tied with Kentucky for second place in the SEC at 8-1, is projected as a No. 5 seed. The other five SEC teams in Lunardi’s bracket (Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama and Florida) are projected as No. 6 through No. 12 seeds. Alabama and Florida are among his “last four” in the tournament.
BracketMatrix.com, which averages the projections of dozens of bracketologists, paints a similar picture.
“When you talk about Mississippi (State), Ole Miss, you talk about Alabama, Auburn, you talk about Florida, you talk about Arkansas, they’re like, who’s going to break through?” UK coach John Calipari said earlier this week. “Maybe two or three of them break through and all of the sudden they’re right there.”
Can’t get enough Cats?
The best opportunity for those teams to “break through” and move up the seed lines would come by knocking off one of Kentucky or Tennessee though to add needed quality victories to the resume.
Alabama already owns a home win over Kentucky but lost in its shot at Tennessee. Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn still have games against both the Volunteers and Wildcats, which have to play each other twice.
After losing to LSU in overtime Wednesday, Mississippi State’s best chance at a marquee resume-building win is likely against Kentucky at home Saturday. The Bulldogs’ game against Tennessee is on the road.
It’s a dynamic Kentucky already overcame at Florida and will face again in a trip to Ole Miss on March 5. Here’s a look at the SEC’s possible tournament teams and their remaining opportunities for wins against the NET top 25 in the regular season.
NET Ranking: 4
Ken Pom Ranking: 5
BracketMatrix projection: No. 1 seed
Remaining top-25 games: at Kentucky (Feb. 16), at LSU (Feb. 23), Kentucky (March 2), Auburn (March 9)
NET Ranking: 5
Ken Pom Ranking: 8
BracketMatrix projection: No. 2 seed
Remaining top-25 games: LSU (Feb. 12), Tennessee (Feb. 16), Auburn (Feb. 23), at Tennessee (March 2)
NET Ranking: 17
Ken Pom Ranking: 22
BracketMatrix projection: No. 5 seed
Remaining top-25 games: Auburn (Feb. 9), at Kentucky (Feb. 12), Tennessee (Feb. 23)
NET Ranking: 20
Ken Pom Ranking: 14
BracketMatrix projection: No. 7 seed
Remaining top-25 games: at LSU (Feb. 9), at Kentucky (Feb. 23), Tennessee (March 9)
NET Ranking: 28
Ken Pom Ranking: 25
BracketMatrix projection: No. 6 seed
Remaining top-25 games: Kentucky (Feb. 9), at Tennessee (March 5)
NET Ranking: 41
Ken Pom Ranking: 46
BracketMatrix projection: No. 9 seed
Remaining top-25 games: Auburn (Feb. 13), Tennessee (Feb. 27), Kentucky (March 5)
NET Ranking: 43
Ken Pom Ranking: 37
BracketMatrix projection: First four out
Remaining top-25 games: at Tennessee (Feb. 9), at LSU (Feb. 20), LSU (March 6), Kentucky (March 9)
NET Ranking: 45
Ken Pom Ranking: 48
BracketMatrix projection: No. 11 seed
Remaining top-25 games: LSU (March 2), Auburn (March 5)