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Updated SEC standings and predictions for the top 4 seeds

Breaking down the SEC race with just two weeks left.

Javonte Smart, Grant Williams, Keldon Johnson, SEC, SEC Tournament Getty Images and USA TODAY Sports

As we’re in the last week of February, March Madness is right around the corner.

Soon brackets will be flying around the internet, Joe Lunardi will be all over your TV, and office pools will be gambling like crazy. It’s honestly the best time of the year, right?

Well, the path to the Final 4 starts with the SEC Tournament, so here’s an updated glance at how the SEC is shaking out:

Even with Reid Travis out, the Kentucky Wildcats took care of business Saturday against the Auburn Tigers in a dominating fashion. The win put UK in 3-way tie for 1st place in the SEC with the LSU Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers. It’s crowded right now at the top of the conference. But we’ll get to more of that in a second.

It’s essentially down to UK, UT, and LSU for the top three seeds, as the Ole Miss Rebels and South Carolina Gamecocks are each three games out of 1st place. With four games remaining, Ole Miss will host both Tennessee and Kentucky, so the Rebels are mathematically still in contention with wins against either of these teams.

Each of those games will be huge for Ole Miss, along with road contests vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks and Missouri Tigers. While the Rebels likely won’t get a top-three seed, they’ll still be key in deciding who wins the regular-season title and how the top three seeds shake out.

South Carolina actually has a much easier path to the top than Ole Miss. The Gamecocks have remaining games with the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide (home), then on the road with Missouri and the Texas A&M Aggies. Three of their four final games are against three of the worst teams in the SEC.

Now, for the current 3-way tie for 1st place in the conference:

The Wildcats host Arkansas on Tuesday, travel to Tennessee on Saturday, travel to Ole Miss the following Tuesday, then end the season at Rupp against the Florida Gators who are just outside the top 30 (31) in NET, so that could be a Quadrant I matchup.

The road trips to Tennessee and Ole Miss are crucial. Not just for the sake of wins and losses, but for tie-breaker significance as well. Again, more on that in a bit.

Tennessee has remaining games with Ole Miss in Oxford, home vs Kentucky, home vs the Mississippi State Bulldogs, then on the road at Auburn. This is a tough stretch for Tennessee to end their season. The Ole Miss game is tough in itself, but even tougher considering there’s temptation to look past the Rebels for the upcoming UK game.

Then, the Mississippi State game can prove a difficult challenge because it’s your typical “trap game” following a huge game against a rival. On the road with Auburn will be tough - Auburn shoots enough 3’s to make them dangerous any and all games, and their environment at home is intense. Tennessee has it tougher than anyone over the final two weeks.

LSU notched a huge win Saturday against Tennessee. As they finish out the season, the Tigers definitely have the easiest 4-game stretch to conclude the season compared to UK and Tennessee.

LSU hosts Texas A&M, travels to Alabama and Florida, then closes out their season at home against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The two road games to Alabama and Florida can certainly prove tough, and these two games give Kentucky their best chance at winning the SEC outright.

Important note: Even though there is a 3-way tie for 1st place, LSU owns the tie-breaker. The Tigers have wins against both Kentucky and Tennessee, so they would be the overall top seed in the SEC Tournament as of now. Kentucky and Tennessee play each other next Saturday, as that game has massive implications for SEC Tournament seeding.

UK is a team on fire right now, a team with momentum, and a team with confidence. LSU is flying high too though with their win over Tennessee and their recent win over UK. The Cats and Tigers are trending in the right direction, not just generally speaking, but towards the coveted top seeds for the SEC Tournament.

The Vols, however, have now lost two of their last three, and it might not get much better in their next two games: On the road vs Ole Miss, then Kentucky comes to town.

Prediction: LSU gets the top seed, Kentucky gets the 2, Tennessee the 3, and USC the 4.