Thoughts on SEC basketball's makeup game schedule

 Blake Lovell   in Basketball

(Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics)

The SEC announced its makeup game schedule for March 6 and March 7, with all 14 league teams set to play one game each.

Here's the full schedule:

March 6

  • Alabama at Georgia - 2 PM ET, CBS
  • LSU at Missouri (TBD)
  • Mississippi State at Auburn (TBD)
  • Texas A&M at Arkansas (TBD)
  • South Carolina at Kentucky (TBD)
  • Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (TBD)

March 7

  • Florida at Tennessee (TBD)

And here are the details from the SEC on the process used for determining opponents:

"Five of the games are rescheduled games that were postponed during the course of the season. Two are new games that mirror the site of previous matchups to help balance team’s home and away schedules."

So, what does all of this mean? Let's discuss.

1. The biggest winners? Missouri, LSU, Tennessee, and Florida. The reason is simple: All four are projected NCAA Tournament teams. It's a quality win on the resume for the two teams that are victorious, and it does very little to impact the tournament status of the two teams that lose. 

Perhaps more importantly, all four of those teams could use victories right now given their inconsistent play late in the season.  

2. And then there's Arkansas. The Razorbacks, like Vanderbilt, have had two games postponed against Texas A&M. However, it was Arkansas that was slotted in a makeup game scenario with the Aggies. 

What does Eric Musselman's team have to gain in that game? Well, not much, if anything. A victory does nothing for the Razorbacks' resume, and a loss would be their worst of the season. 

And, of course, you also have to mention the fact that Texas A&M hasn't played in a month due to COVID-19 protocols, which likely won't inspire much confidence for an Arkansas team with a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament on the line. 

The only way this is an important game for Arkansas is if Alabama stumbles down the stretch and there are SEC regular season title implications at stake. Otherwise, I can't imagine the Hogs would be too upset if this game eventually gets canceled.

3. Alabama's favorable matchup....maybe? Alabama gets another matchup with Georgia, a team that it beat 115-82 a few weeks ago. 

The difference in the rematch? It's in Athens. The Crimson Tide is 1-3 in its last four road games, with the one win a three-point victory against a 5-12 South Carolina team. 

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have won four straight home games, including wins against two NCAA Tournament teams in Missouri and LSU. Again, most figure the Tide will clinch the SEC crown before the matchup on March 6, but if not, this will likely prove to be a much more competitive contest than the first time around.

Also, the Bulldogs sit at No. 83 in the NET, so losing that one wouldn't be ideal for an Alabama team pushing for a No. 2 seed.

4. Does the South Carolina game do anything for Kentucky's tournament hopes? Not really. The Wildcats have to win the SEC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. There really is no other way around it.....unless the NCAA selection committee sets a new precedent. 

At best, Kentucky can finish the regular season at 11-13. From there, winning four games in Nashville would give the Cats the SEC Tournament title and put them as the league's automatic qualifier at 15-13. 

If Kentucky lost in the tournament final, it would finish 14-14, and no team has ever gotten an at-large bid with a .500 record overall. This season could be an exception based on less games played and overall resume, but it still seems unlikely. Another note: If the Cats secured a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament, they would only play three games, thus meaning a loss in the tournament final would put them under .500 at 13-14.

I know that's a lot of math, but basically, the numbers support them needing to win the whole thing to go dancing.

5. The other two. Ole Miss plays at Vanderbilt on Saturday, and then it'll turn around and host the Commodores the following week. The Rebels have a home tilt with Kentucky sandwiched in between those two, all three games are must-wins if they want to have a shot at playing for an at-large bid. 

Even then, two Vanderbilt wins probably won't stand out when the committee is comparing the Ole Miss resume to other at-large resumes.

As for Auburn/Mississippi State, that could be one of the more unpredictable games of the makeup slate. Sharife Cooper could miss the rest of the season for the Tigers due to injury, and the Bulldogs have been pretty inconsistent. 

That matchup is the only one that doesn't mean much from a postseason standpoint, unless Mississippi State earns an NIT bid.

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