November and December are for beating up on the other guys. Starting today, the SEC has only itself to beat up on in men's basketball.
It's a significant demarcation in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee that will bunker in March and draw up with a bracket.
How well did the SEC do in fashioning its non-conference resume? South of Lexington, not so hot.
The SEC went 3-8 against top-10 non-conference foes. Kentucky knocked off North Carolina and Louisville, which leaves only LSU's win over No. 10 Marquette in the plus column.
Overall, the SEC was a modest 8-14 against ranked teams. Kentucky had three of the wins, Mississippi State two. Tennessee was 0-3.
In this sense, the SEC misses Bruce Pearl. The deposed UT coach was good for the league's RPI.
Excluding NCAA tournament play, in Pearl's six seasons, the Vols produced five non-conference wins over top-10 teams — two of them over No. 1-ranked teams — went 3-3 against top-5 teams and 10-8 against all ranked non-conference opponents.
Now, on with the SEC season.
RPI/Strength of schedule: 11/73.
Best win: North Carolina.
Noteworthy: Super signee Anthony Davis is being pushed by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the SEC's top freshman. The 'Cats rank second in the nation in FG-percent defense and first nationally in blocked shots.
Best win: Arizona.
Worst loss: Akron.
Noteworthy: Transfer Arnett Moultrie is averaging 16.8 ppg and 11.4 rebounds and freshman Rodney Hood is averaging 12.3 points, which means Renardo Sidney is only the third-most productive big man for the Bulldogs.
Best win: Texas A&M.
Worst loss: Rutgers.
Noteworthy: Freshman guard Bradley Beal is as good as advertised, averaging 14.5 ppg and leading the team at 34 minutes a game, even though the backcourt includes veterans Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker.
Best win: Purdue.
Worst loss: Dayton.
Noteworthy: The best All-Trevor backcourt in America is Trevor Releford (12.4 ppg) and freshman Trevor Lacey (6.7 ppg). Bbut the Tide's strength is still inside with JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. The Achilles' heel is 27.2-percent shooting from 3-point range.
Best win: Oakland.
Worst loss: Houston.
Noteworthy: New coach Mike Anderson lost his best player, forward Marshawn Powell, for the season but at least the Razorbacks had an easy non-conference schedule against which to recalibrate. Julysses Nobles is the only returning starter.
Best win: Marquette.
Worst loss: So. Alabama.
Noteworthy: Freshman guard Anthony Hickey is a nice addition at 8.8 ppg and 53 assists. The good news? LSU ranks 37th in FG defense, holding opponents to 38.4 percent. The bad news? The Tigers are 275th in FG offense at 40.5 percent.
Best win: Hawaii.
Worst loss: Florida St.
Noteworthy: The record is inflated. The Tigers have played one of the weakest schedules in the nation. Texas transfer Varez Ward is one of five players averaging between 12.6 and 9.4 points a game.
Best win: Marquette.
Worst loss: Indiana St.
Noteworthy: Home losses to Cleveland State, Indiana State and Xavier raise a red flag. The absence of injured center Festus Ezeli for all but four games is only a partial explanation. The 'Dores have their top seven scorers back, including John Jenkins (20.5 ppg) and Jeffery Taylor (17.5).
Best win: Miami.
Worst loss: Dayton.
Noteworthy: Dismissing co-leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson this week further complicates the Rebels' offensive challenges. They miss the shooting of departed seniors Chris Warren and Zach Graham and are hitting only 28.2 percent from 3-point range. But they've cobbled together a nice pre-conference season despite no outstanding statistical categories.
Best win: Notre Dame.
Worst loss: Colorado.
Noteworthy: Freshman guard Kentavius Caldwell-Pope leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 14.1 ppg. With Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware ranked second and third, respectively, this is a perimeter-oriented offense.
Best win: Clemson.
Worst loss: Tennessee State.
Noteworthy: The Gamecocks need to get point guard Bruce Ellington back in basketball shape now that he's finished with football. Forward Malik Cooke is averaging 13.1 ppg but there isn't much else in the South Carolina offense repertoire to scare anyone.
Best win: Chattanooga.
Worst loss: Austin Peay.
Noteworthy: Points are relatively easy to come by, both for the Vols and their opponents. Unless Tennessee finds a way to get better defensively, wins will be hard to come by in league play. Brand new freshman Jarnell Stokes is the X factor.