It might be a stretch, but the Cats can still win the conference - Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
It's the final week of SEC play for the women and we still don't quite know who will be the #1 seed in the conference tournament (or the 2-4 seeds for that matter). What does the tempo-free performance of each team have to say about the race?
It's been 3 weeks since my last update of the tempo-free performance of SEC teams this year and there's been a bit of a change at the top. Tennessee has weathered injuries and maintained their conference performance while Texas A&M has come back to the pack. Kentucky's overall performance has fallen off somewhat despite some impressive road wins.
Pace: The average number of possessions in a game for each team. Higher = faster.
PPP: Points per Possession or the average number of points that a team comes away with each time they get the ball.
Opp PPP: Opponent's scoring per possession or what the defense allows on average each time the opponent has the ball.
EM: Effective Margin which is PPP minus Opp PPP.
Avg M: The EM multiplied by the average number of possessions in an SEC game this year.
- It's always nice when the actual games match the per-possession numbers. For the most part the order of "Best Performers" matches the order of "Best Record"
- The big movement is Tennessee who was 3rd in the last update but is first now. Nothing has changed for the Vols, which is itself impressive considering their injury issues, but Texas A&M and UK's defenses haven't been as effective which has brought down their overall performance.
- Georgia is 4th, but there is a considerable gap between them and 3rd place.
- The Kentucky offense is better than it's defense. No seriously - just look at it! The offense is 0.12 better than the conference average while the defense is just 0.06 better. Who knew?
The big question though is who will finish in 1st place and grab the #1 seed in the conference tournament. Here are the remaining schedules for the teams that can finish in 1st:
Tennessee: Texas A&M, @Kentucky
Texas A&M: @Tennessee, LSU
Kentucky: @Ole Miss, Tennessee
Georgia: @Mississippi St. Vanderbilt
Tie breaker scenarios for UK:
4-way Tie: UK, Texas A&M, Georgia win out (by definition Tennessee loses twice). UK takes the 1 seed in the SECT with a 3-1 record against the other 3 teams.
3-way Tie #1 (Georgia, Tennessee, UK): UK and Georgia win out, Texas A&M beats Tennessee but loses to LSU. In this case the tied teams are all 1-1 against each other so it moves to record against the 4th place team. This would be Texas A&M since they hold a tie breaker over South Carolina and UK's 2-0 record would give them the 1 Seed.
3-way Tie #2 (Tennessee, TAMU, UK): Same as the 4-way tie scenario but Georgia loses a game. UK wins the tie breaker with a 3-0 record against the other 2.
Notably, it is impossible for there to be a 2-way tie for 1st place between UK and Georgia so the loss to the Bulldogs would not come into play (it might if they tied for 2nd or 3rd though). Of course, Tennessee could take first outright with a win and there are other tie breaker scenarios for First that don't involve the Cats if they lose to Ole Miss tonight.
Tennessee and Texas A&M are basically even, but Tennessee gets the game at home so they should be favored but maybe not by as much as you might think.
Kentucky gets Tennessee at home but they might need to pick their defense up if they want to win. It seems as though Coach Mitchell might be dampening the press a bit late in the season and if that is the case, the results above imply that he would be wise to ramp it back up again on Sunday.
It's going to be an interesting finish to the season to be sure. If Texas A&M can pull the upset over Tennessee tonight then Kentucky's fate is placed back in its own hands regardless of what happens with other teams - the Cats would win any 3-way or 4-way tie breakers that could result.