Analyst: SEC a 'jumbled mess'

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl gives a thumbs up during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl gives a thumbs up during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

— The Southeastern Conference is as deep as it has been in years, with only two games separating a three-way tie for third place and a six-way tie for eighth place in the conference.

But SEC Network analysts Jimmy Dykes and Pat Bradley can't envision a team from the league competing for a national championship midway through conference play.

“It is a jumbled mess,” Dykes said. “…Right now I don’t see a team that can get to the Final Four yet. That can change because I don’t think any of us thought South Carolina was a Final Four team at this time last year.

“But I do see seven or eight teams in this league that could win their first and second games and get to the Sweet 16. Not saying they all will, but all are capable of doing it.

“I think the depth of the league is at an all-time high. I was talking about that with (Ole Miss head coach) Andy Kennedy and we were talking about it being in the best in the last 10 years, but I’m not so certain it isn’t the best it has ever been.”

Auburn (21-2, 9-1 SEC) is ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. No. 17 Tennessee (17-5, 7-3) and No. 24 Kentucky (17-6, 6-4) are the conference's only other ranked teams.

Because of some big wins in the nonconference, several teams remain in play to earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament. ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi has seven SEC teams in the NCAA postseason in his latest projection, including Arkansas as a No. 10 seed.

“You are talking about a league has deep at the SEC without any Final Four favorites,” Bradley said. “It’s just that everybody is good and everybody is flawed.

“It makes you think is there a team like South Carolina did last year that will be able to put it together down the stretch. Could Texas A&M? Could Kentucky? Could Arkansas or somebody else?”

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