SEC gets 3 NCAA bids, fewest since 1990

TAMPA, Fla. — SEC coaches and players spent all week, and a good part of the season, defending their league.

There’s not much they can say now.

The SEC got three teams in the NCAA tournament Sunday, the league’s smallest representation since 1990. It was a clear indication how the selection committee felt about a conference that ranked sixth in RPI and had few head-to-head wins against teams from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and Pac-10.

LSU, Tennessee and Mississippi State garnered spots in the 65-team field. Auburn, South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky — all hoping to improve their NCAA resumes in the SEC tournament — failed to get in and will represent the conference in the NIT.

“Disappointing,” UT coach Bruce Pearl said. “We were very disappointed. There’s only one thing we can do, and that is win and demonstrate we deserve better as a league.”

If the number of SEC teams was a blow to the SEC, those seedings might have been the knockout punch.

LSU, the SEC regular-season champion, was a No. 8 seed, Tennessee was a No. 9 seed and Mississippi State was a No. 13 seed.

“I’m surprised at the high seeds, especially Tennessee,” Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. “LSU being that high of a seed, that was surprising to me. When I saw Tennessee come across there as a 9, the kids didn’t know it, but I knew it. You kind of knew where the league stood in the eyes of the people making the decisions when I saw that.”

The Bulldogs upset Tennessee 64-61 in the SEC tournament final Sunday, a win that likely kept the conference from facing even more questions of futility.

Each of the six major conferences has gotten at least three teams into the NCAA tournament in every year since 1988, when the Pac-10 landed just two spots.

The SEC had earned at least five berths in each of the last 12 seasons. The conference had gotten more than three teams in every year since 1990, when Alabama, Georgia and LSU made it. Perennial powerhouse Kentucky was on probation that season.

The Wildcats had made the NCAA field the last 17 years. They ended that streak Sunday, no surprise since coach Billy Gillispie’s team lost nine of its final 13 games.

Florida made history, too.

The Gators became the first program since Michigan State in 1980 to miss the NCAA tournament in consecutive years after winning the national championship.

South Carolina and Auburn, two teams that earned No. 2 seeds in the SEC tournament, felt like they did enough to earn spots in the NCAA field. The Gamecocks were the co-champions of the SEC East, and the Tigers won nine of 11 down the stretch.

The selection committee disagreed, even with SEC commissioner Mike Slive at the helm. It sent a strong message to all the teams that they need to have better non-conference schedules and more quality wins.

“November and December is not an exhibition season,” Slive said. “It’s part of the body of work. That gives teams opportunity, depending on the configuration they’re in, to be able to differentiate themselves from other teams because they can get outside of their own neighborhood.”

Arkansas upset Texas and Oklahoma late last year, and Florida knocked off Washington. But there weren’t many other non-conference wins to boast about around the league.

“It hurts the league when you don’t win games early,” Lebo said. “You can’t move your league RPI in January. If your league starts out at fifth or sixth in the RPI, when you get into the league you can’t move it. You’ve really got to have success early in your league.

“One or two more big wins certainly would have made a big difference.”

Slive contradicted that notion, saying conference RPI was not even part of the equation.

“We really don’t talk about conferences,” he said. “There’s no conference RPI, there’s no data in the room. The conferences are just not discussed. It’s about the whole body of work, who you played, where you played and about how you do.”

And that meant just three spots for the SEC.

“I’m not getting into that,” LSU coach Trent Johnson said. “I’m not on the committee. (Three teams) are very interesting. Washington is a No. 4 seed and they lost to Florida. Auburn gave us the most trouble of any team we played and we went 13-3. I’m very disappointed for Auburn and its players.”

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Comments » 19

DrJCrown_theMagicMan writes:

Well at least we got in the SEC Champ game and atleast we will be playing in the tourney!!!!

on that I say...

GOVOLS!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

I'm serious, why even play a tough schedule. it got s nothing but a bunch of tough losses.

hell, be like memphis, play no one. it seems to work.

Ironcity writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

I'm serious, why even play a tough schedule. it got s nothing but a bunch of tough losses.

hell, be like memphis, play no one. it seems to work.

Had we won the SEC, the tough schedule would have meant something. We should be happy that we are in the NCAA's heck a number of SEC teams with better overall records are not.

RJ_Vol writes:

The three tourney bids shed poor light upon the conference commisioner, Mike Slive. He has been a terrible PR man for the conference, and it's time for the SEC to show him the door.

CoverOrange writes:

mpark, Auburn, SC didn't get in because they didn't play anybody outside the conference. Memphis, like UT, played several ranked opponents outside their respective conferences. SEC teams need to follow Pearl's example and play challenging schedules in November and December. The whole conference would go up in media, and recruits eyes if you played the Kansases and NC and UConns of the world instead of Alabama State Tech for the Blind.

Slive is not the PR man for the SEC. Not his job. He would be kicked off the selection committee if he tried to be.

RJ_Vol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

mpark, Auburn, SC didn't get in because they didn't play anybody outside the conference. Memphis, like UT, played several ranked opponents outside their respective conferences. SEC teams need to follow Pearl's example and play challenging schedules in November and December. The whole conference would go up in media, and recruits eyes if you played the Kansases and NC and UConns of the world instead of Alabama State Tech for the Blind.

Slive is not the PR man for the SEC. Not his job. He would be kicked off the selection committee if he tried to be.

Obviously, Slive has to remain unbiased on the selection committee. However, he stood back this year and allowed his conference to be listed as a "patsy" in basketball. It's his job to run the conference and PR is part of that. SEC basketball didn't just go bad overnight. LSU should have had a higher seed. I hold Slive accountable for that since he was the chair. It is no accident that the conference w/ three 1 seeds is the home to ESPN - big PR.

As for UT, we should have had a higher seed due to our non-conference schedule...Pearl will comment on that I suspect.

ncvol17 writes:

Well, for me a good day.. Vols get in and UK doesn't. I cannot get on board for UK in any sport in any way. Hating the Cats since 75 and Joe B Hall days.( Fran Curci in pigskin!)..Any other SEC team is OK but never the Cats...extended family reasons...

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

Anybody else think Slive looks like a dork in the commercial with his coat over his shoulder?

eduardo writes:

Kenlucky, Florida, South Carolina and Auburn should have gotten in over Arizona!!!!7 big 10 teams????? what is that??????????????

Layla_Kiffin_is_hott writes:

What a bunch of BS. I don't agree, but I can understand the Miss State 13 seed better than I can understand the 9 and 8 seeds for tn and LSU. It blows my mind. It is a disgrace to the tourny and to the SEC how the comittee selected these seeds. I'm sick and disappointed. I hope this fires up our team and we beat ok state pitt.

RJ_Vol writes:

Additionally, I feel sure the SEC rakes in a lot of dough for the NCAA via TV, merchandise, dues, etc. - which enables all of these smaller schools to participate. This snub won't quickly be forgotten. Also, missing the SEC-TV market might be the waterloo for this tourney. How in the world does Arizona get in the tourney? With decent/fair seedings, I guarantee you that the top five SEC schools would represent themselves well. It's redistribution of the wealth - NCAA style.

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to eduardo:

Kenlucky, Florida, South Carolina and Auburn should have gotten in over Arizona!!!!7 big 10 teams????? what is that??????????????

AGREE S.C. SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN.

Volborn writes:

Auburn and S.C should have gotten in over AZ...gees..our league was just young...not "bad".

rbhobbs73#226545 writes:

For Slive to say they do not look at conference rpi is a flat out lie. He says they only look at individual teams. Really?

Tennessee had #2 SOS, #23 RPI and they had 7 wins over top 50 RPI teams ( UConn had 8 and UNC had 7)....and you are telling me that with that body of work UT deserved a 9 seed and then try and tell me that conference rpi had nothing to do with it?

I haven't heard that big of a lie since Fulmer and Chavis both stood in front of a camera and said that UT didn't play prevent defense in the 2001 UGA game (hobnail boot game) when myself and the other 108,000 people in Neyland Stadium clearly saw DBs 10 yards off the ball and safeties 25 yards off of the ball!

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to RJ_Vol:

The three tourney bids shed poor light upon the conference commisioner, Mike Slive. He has been a terrible PR man for the conference, and it's time for the SEC to show him the door.

Probably so, he's just a yes man, and a moderate, doing what's right in the eyes of the politically correct and the moderate, doesn't like to make waves. Definitely not a shaker and a mover. Obama is a coward by the way. He leads not by example and leaves nothing to the imagination, that's why people perish without knowledge, he has none, and perish without a vision, he has none, just taxing to give to the poor, a modern day Robin Hood, doing it all for his own self-aggrandizement. Anyway, that's the way I feel about people not promoting things the way they should. The SEC is not appreciated by the likes of Dick vitale and friends, so what, hell we can't have it all. Just have fun with it, Walter Payton said it best, "When people say that I can't do something, that's when I like to prove them wrong"! Believe me folks, and start voting correctly if you love your selves and your sports!! And don't give up on your SEC teams, now is when it gets to be fun!

wyomingvol writes:

in response to rbhobbs73#226545:

For Slive to say they do not look at conference rpi is a flat out lie. He says they only look at individual teams. Really?

Tennessee had #2 SOS, #23 RPI and they had 7 wins over top 50 RPI teams ( UConn had 8 and UNC had 7)....and you are telling me that with that body of work UT deserved a 9 seed and then try and tell me that conference rpi had nothing to do with it?

I haven't heard that big of a lie since Fulmer and Chavis both stood in front of a camera and said that UT didn't play prevent defense in the 2001 UGA game (hobnail boot game) when myself and the other 108,000 people in Neyland Stadium clearly saw DBs 10 yards off the ball and safeties 25 yards off of the ball!

I thought there wasn't anything worse than watching the game today..

That is until you reminded me of being at the 2001 TN/UGA game...

Welcome to the SEC Mark Richt...

Definitely where the Big Boy lost his edge.

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to VOLinCockCuntry:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Most of the time SEC CHAMPS are a 4 or better.

Ironcity writes:

in response to VOLinCockCuntry:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ESPN has nothing to do with the seeds or who gets in. Please get over it with ESPN. We wound like a bunch of idiots when we blame a television station for our teams shortcomings.

You want further proof, ESPN is owned by ABC and CBS airs the selection show and the tournament. So once again tell me how ESPN has ANYTHING to do with the SEC having a lousy year.

The_the writes:

SEC is lucky that MSU won yesterday, otherwise it would have only been UT and LSU. SEC basketball was terrible this year.

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