Dooley: Anyone care to Dance?

[Photo/ Jake Arthur]

Tuesday night brought some clarity to the SEC’s postseason possibilities but it also left a mess behind.

Tonight, none of the three games should really have any impact on the NCAA Tournament (LSU v. South Carolina, both are out; Ole Miss-Kentucky, ones in and one’s out; same for A&M-Georgia).

So here is what happened Tuesday, Big Dance wise.

* Florida locked up a berth in the tournament. That’s nine Quadrant One wins for the Gators, the third most in the country. Mike White deserves a lot of credit for two trips in two years. The Gators are playing for SEC seeding, national seeding and, oh, a chance to sweep Kentucky this Saturday afternoon.

* Mississippi State basically had the plug pulled. Without any major non-conference wins, the Bulldogs really needed a quality win at home against Tennessee. Instead, they were blown out. Mississippi State is toast unless it wins the SEC Tournament.

* Alabama is in trouble. The Tide’s loss to Florida could mean that the SEC’s hopes and dreams of getting eight teams in are fading. Joe Lunardi still has Alabama in as a 10 seed (and don’t forget, it’s a really soft bubble this year), but here is the fickle world of Q1 wins — Oklahoma’s slide has dropped the Sooners to No. 36 in RPI, which means that Alabama home win is now a Quadrant 2 win for the Tide. Alabama could really use a win at Texas A&M on Saturday.

* Missouri looks OK, but again, talk about fickle. Two of the Tigers’ six Q1 wins are at UCF (No. 69 in RPI) and at South Carolina (No. 75). If both slip below 75, Mizzou is down to four quality wins.

* Kentucky remains an interesting story. Lunardi has the Wildcats as a five seed because of their high RPI (14). That RPI is high, I guess, because they have no real bad losses. They also have zero wins against top 25 RPI teams this year and only three Quad 1 wins. When it comes to computer rankings, a wise old man once said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

OK, that’s enough math for today. Next week — geography, as in where might the Gators and the rest of the SEC be headed.


  1. I understand that the perceived value of a particular win can change with the subsequent success or failure of the opponent, but I don’t think having the quadrant value of wins in a constant state of flux makes for a viable measuring tool. Is Duke’s win over UF less impressive now that the Gators have struggled throughout the season? I’m sure Duke fans still consider it a win over a top 10 team, and UF was certainly playing like a top 10 team at the time. What do the Gators’ later struggles have to do with that game? The same thing goes for UF’s win over UK at Rupp. Was it really less impressive because UK went on a four game losing streak a few games after losing to the Gators? Is it that much more impressive now that the Cats have won four in a row? I like the idea of quantifying the value of wins, but there needs to be some way to blend the immediate value of a win based on the opponent’s play at the time of the game with the overall value of the win based on the opponent’s success throughout the season.

    • I hear you Joe. But I think that having a (somewhat) subjective rating system for wins takes some of the pressure off the selection committee. But you are absolutely right that in the moment a big win is a big win. And in the hearts and minds of the winning team and their fans, that usually doesn’t change. It’s a little different in football where injuries routinely change the landscape. Alabama got a “big win” against the Noles on opening day. But the part where they knock out Deondre Francois torpedoed the Noles for the year. By the end of the season, that was just another W for Bama against a pedestrian (based on W-L record) Noles team. The Gators were a legit Top 10 teams when they played Duke. And the eye test of that game says the Gators and Devils were pretty much equals at the time. The Gators major injury is year old (Egbunu). So the Gators still have that potential in there somewhere. Hopefully that will show out the next few weeks. Go Gators.

      • Mark, I agree that the rating system for wins helps the selection committee, and it certainly seems it will benefit the Gators this season. Your point about Francois is part of what I was getting at. If you beat a good team at full strength early in the season, then later that team loses a key player and their season goes in the tank, the current system doesn’t seem to account for that, and it devalues your win based on what happened later with the opponent at less than full strength. I’m not sure how to fix this, but I think it needs to be addressed. Maybe using the opponent’s average RPI over the course of the season, rather than their current RPI, would help.