With a big win over the Aggies, Simmons and the boys have put themselves solidly in the tournament barring a complete letdown over the final stretch. While they could have caught the Aggies at a stronger point in their schedule (yes, the committee considers timing of losses and the Aggies are in an abysmal strength as of late), the win likely pushes the Tigers off the bubble, advanced stats be damned (Kenpom has them 56, and their OOC strength of schedule at an abysmal 269.) Having possibly wrangled the 3rd SEC tourney bid, he's a look at the other teams we'll see down the stretch and in the conference tournament.
Kentucky (AP: 14 KenPom: 9) Tournament status: In
The juggernaut of Lexington has awakened (as the 27 point domination of the Gamecocks this past weekend showed us), though it seems consistency is going to continue to be an issue for this Wildcat team down the stretch. They have the best floor-general in the country in Tyler Ulis, and an NBA level scorer in Jamaal Murray, and a major wild-card/enigma in Skal Labissiere.
Labissiere, a talented offensive player, has been demoted to the bench because of his lack of ability to defend and rebound the basketball, but if he were to somehow figure those out down the stretch, this could be a title contender. There are concerns that Labissiere simply can't play at game speed, especially from a defensive standpoint. For his size and length, he doesn't protect the rim with the consistency that the Wildcats need him too. That could be the difference for them down the stretch between being a good team, and a great one.
Texas A&M (AP: not ranked KenPom: 22) Tournament status: In
The Aggies got right last night at home against the Rebels, ending a four game losing streak that included last Saturdays loss to the Tigers. While the slide was ugly, the body of work beforehand more than makes up for it, and this A&M team will be in the big-boy tournament, no doubts. It'll be helpful if they can continue to gain momentum over these past couple weeks (they get Kentucky at home this weekend) for seeding purposes, but most of their work is behind them, so to speak.
Florida (AP: not ranked KenPom: 34) Tournament status: first four out/last four in
A close win at Georgia last night has the Gators solidly on the cusp on being "in." They've got big games at SC next, and then in Baton Rouge and home against Kentucky to close February/start march. One win on the road, and the Gators are dancing. Lose all three? You've got a tougher case. Not many signature wins, (West Virginia was huge, but lose key SEC games) and not a strong out-of-conference strength of schedule.
South Carolina (AP: not ranked KenPom: 53) Tournament status: Bubble life
Despite being ranked higher than LSU in the KenPom ratings (for now), South Carolina really only has two good wins on it's resume so far (LSU and Texas A&M) and a couple worse losses (including a stinker last night to Mizzou.) They don't have a real chance to get one, either, (beating Florida this weekend would help, but still, not a strong resume at all. Even if they win out, the Gamecocks are likely an NIT team. Tough go for a squad that started 16-0.