Friday, February 12, 2016

SEC Update

The old SEC is having quite a race this year for the men's basketball crown, and this week was pretty good for our Kentucky Wildcats.  That Cats crushed Georgia 82 to 48 in Rupp Arena on Tuesday night, while South Carolina knocked off first-place LSU 94-83 in Columbia on Wednesday.  Also on Wednesday, Texas A & M suffered its third loss in a row, falling 63-62 at Alabama after the Aggies' best free throw shooter missed two potential game-winning or tying free throws with 2.2 seconds left on the clock.  So after all that, look who's now tied for first place, and who is suddenly all the way up to number 13 in Ken Pomeroy's rankings:

13.  Kentucky:  8-3
43.  S. Carolina:  8-3
58.  Louisiana St:  8-3

19.  Texas A & M:  7-4
29.  Florida:  7-4

35.  Vanderbilt:  6-5
89.  Georgia:  6-5

67.  Arkansas:  5-6
84.  Alabama:  5-6
90.  Tennessee:  5-6
94.  Mississippi:  5-6

83.  Mississippi St:  3-8
190.  Auburn:  3-8

194.  Missouri:  1-10

In reality, of course, the Cats could have a hammerlock on the SEC by now if they hadn't blown a 12-point lead at Auburn and a 21-point lead at Tennessee.  On the other hand, life on the road has been brutal in this year's SEC -- home teams are now 58-19 in conference play.

These are daunting facts for the Big Blue, as they have a big road game tomorrow down at the University of South Carolina.  Coach Frank Martin is doing a great job down there.  Here's his SEC record since taking over from Darrin Horn (Ken Pom ratings in parentheses):

2013:  4-14 (210)
2014:  5-13 (114)
2015:  6-12 (67)
2016:  8-3 (43)

To many observers, the Gamecocks came out of nowhere this year, but Ken Pom's numbers show that Martin has made significant progress every year.  If South Carolina can beat the Cats tomorrow, they will probably go to the NCAA's for the first time since 2004.  On the other hand, if the Cats could prevail, they would take a huge step toward defending as SEC champions.  K-Pom likes the Cats by 75-74, while Vegas has made UK a 1-point favorite.  All signs point to a real barn-burner, and we will hope that Our Boys can hold up their end of the bargain.

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