The sermons can begin being penned.
SEC men's basketball coaches should make use of Christmas break to get the wording just right. The verbiage might need to cut through the facts come March.
That's when the NCAA tournament selection committee will make its annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis. When it does, voices will travel up from I-65 North and I-75 North, and over from I-70 East preaching the SEC's worth.
"This is the home of the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats."
"This conference has produced 23 NCAA tournament wins in the last three years."
If the first five weeks have proved anything, it's that the sales pitch might need to be better than that.
Trying to fit the league into one early season frame, look at the SEC through to the scope of Ken Pomeroy's popular team efficiency rating system. In most simplistic terms, it ranks all 347 Division I teams looking at who a team has beaten and how they have beaten them.
It doesn't paint a pretty picture of the SEC, despite slotting Florida at No. 1 and placing three more teams — Kentucky (13), Ole Miss (19) and Missouri (23) — inside the top 25.
Use a wide lens, looking at the SEC's overall accomplishments … or lack thereof.
The SEC is 2-11 against teams ranked Nos. 1 to 25 and 15-34 against the top 100. Only three league teams — Florida, Missouri and Tennessee — own a victory against a top-50 opponent.
Yet the conference's 14 teams have accumulated 82 wins.
A healthy 51-2 record against teams ranked 200-347 certainly helps.
Against the worst of the worst, the rating's sub-300 teams, the SEC is 26-1.
That reliance on college basketball's leftovers trumps any other league. The Big East, long an unyielding bully to nameless punching bags, counts 17 wins over sub-300 teams, despite having one extra team in the conference. The ACC, a league categorized as being in a "down year," has two less teams, but just 14 wins over the dreck.
And against the top 100, of which the SEC boasts just 15 wins? The Big East has 24 wins. The ACC has 20.
All this might add up to March Sadness.
Since the NCAA tournament expanded from 48 to 64 teams in 1985, the SEC has earned at least four bids every year expect 1990 and 2009, when three were invited.
At this time, it's hard to envision the 2013 NCAA tournament without No. 8 Florida (7-1), No. 12 Missouri (9-1) and unranked Kentucky (7-3).
Don't take a fourth bid for granted. A large and potentially historically bad league basement may drag everyone down the well.
Ole Miss and LSU are both 7-1. The Tigers' lone loss came to Boise State and their best wins are home against Seton Hall and at UC Irvine. The Rebels have one — just one — win in the top 200. It was Rutgers.
Neither Ole Miss nor LSU is likely to dance without a run in league play.
Assuming it rolls through a gauntlet of Southern, Army and Houston Baptist, Texas A&M will close non-conference play championing marquee wins over Washington State and Stephen F. Austin and an 11-2 record. The Aggies fall alongside the boys from Oxford and Baton Rouge.
A 6-3 record. No Jeronne Maymon.
There are issues.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Twitter.com/BFQuinn