The 2015 Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball season has entered its final two weeks, final four games, before the tournament that takes place at Bridgestone Arena. Overall, it has been a far better season for the league than the past couple, but it is still overpowered by one story.
Kentucky is still on the pursuit of perfection, standing 27-0 entering Wednesday’s game at 12-15 Mississippi State. It is hard to imagine an upset there but Saturday’s game against Arkansas maybe not as much, though it is at Rupp. Arkansas has emerged as the second-best in the league and a team that could make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hogs beat Texas A&M 81-75 Tuesday to improve to 23-5 overall, 12-3 in the SEC, on a 7-game winning streak. In order to shock the world, Arkansas must take care of the ball and get top-notch efforts from Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls, either or both who can seem to disappear at times. After that, Kentucky is at inconsistent Georgia before their annual season-ending game with Florida, who has fallen off the cliff.
Coach Billy Donovan is still stuck on 499 career wins after a shocking 64-52 defeat at Missouri on Tuesday, a Missouri team that had lost 13 in a row. There will likely be no postseason play for the 13-15 Gators, attrition and a lack of chemistry doomed them from the start this season. It will be the first season of Donovan’s career where he does not win 20 games.
After Kentucky (14-0 at midweek) and Arkansas (12-3), are 10-win league squads Ole Miss and Texas A&M. People did a double-take back when each pushed mighty Kentucky to overtime back in January; they have proven themselves since then. The Rebels are led by surprising newcomer Stefan Moody, who as a compliment to Jarvis Summers has put the Rebels in fine stead. Sebastian Saiz has added post presence for a team that could also make a run in March.
The Aggies are led by transfers Danuel House and Jalen Jones. Add to that the maturity of Kourtney Roberson and the steady hand of Alex Caruso from the point, and Texas A&M appears poised to end their NCAA drought. Also looking strong for an NCAA bid is LSU. LSU won their 20th of the season winning 84-61 at Auburn on Tuesday. The inside tandem of Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey have proven a handful for anyone and everyone, including Kentucky. Georgia is also hopeful, but recent home losses to Auburn and South Carolina have made the road tougher for the SEC 8-6 Bulldogs.
Vanderbilt and Tennessee entered Thursday night’s rematch both on the outside looking in of NCAA consideration. The Vols (6-8), and the ‘Dores (5-9), both still garner hopes of the NIT and their coaches coveting those extra practices and games for their young team’s futures. Tennessee has just not been able to find anyone who can consistently help NBA talent Josh Richardson who has carried this team, and Vanderbilt has simply not been able to make that one extra play in the close game whether it is one more rebound or one more free throw.
Alabama (17-11, 7-8) is the only other team in the running for postseason play, the Tide have struggled mightily to score the ball. From midseason, Mississippi State has seen the most improvement going 5-5 in their last 10, Auburn the most regression as they are but 4-11 in the league. South Carolina (13-14, 4-11) still hopes to cause trouble at the tournament.