Watch: Kentucky, SEC teams plummet
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Days until Selection Sunday: 14
The first word:
The carnage among borderline NCAA tournament teams Saturday wasn’t particularly surprising. These are, almost by definition, fairly average teams that are typically losing about once a week during conference play.
So hold off on the astonishment. This isn’t surprising.
What does stand out is the struggles of just about every team that matters for bubble purposes in the Southeastern Conference.
Kentucky predictably fell at Arkansas, a beast of a home-court team that can do little good outside of Bud Walton Arena.
Georgia completed the sweep of Tennessee, putting at least a temporary halt to the Volunteers’ surge up the at-large board.
Alabama lost at Florida, which is the least egregious sin of the whole lot but still doesn’t do the Crimson Tide any good.
Then there was Mississippi, which lost at Mississippi State. That’s the same Mississippi State that lost its previous two games by an average of 36.5 points and had lost 13 in a row.
There’s still enough time for a couple of these teams (Kentucky, in particular) to recover and work their way into the NCAA tournament. But on this particular day, the borderline teams of the SEC were a downright mess.
Biggest résumé stain:
It’s Mississippi, and it isn’t even close. The Rebels have more losses to teams outside the top 200 of the RPI in their last four games (two) than top-50 wins for the entire season (one). The 73-67 setback at Mississippi State is a profile-crushing defeat, and has a chance to hold up as one of the worst losses absorbed by a borderline tournament team this month.
Trouble is, with Ole Miss’ lack of quality wins, poor nonconference strength of schedule and rapid fade since a 17-2 start, the Rebels might not be a borderline team before long — if they’re even one at the moment.
Collectors of victories, quality or otherwise, on Saturday …