In what could be best described as “Upset Thursday” all pieces were falling into place for South Carolina women’s basketball team. A hot start had led the Gamecocks to a 31-29 lead over Georgia, one of two teams Carolina was tied with for third in the SEC. The other team they were tied with, Arkansas, was struggling at home against LSU and faced an 18-16 deficit at the half. If that were not good enough, cellar-dweller Alabama had a commanding 50-28 lead of Kentucky who was at the top of the SEC standings.
If things held up, Carolina would move all the way to third in the SEC standings and just one game behind Kentucky and Tennessee. If Carolina was to beat Alabama, Kentucky, and Arkansas the Gamecocks would be at worst in a three-way tie for first with Kentucky and Tennessee. To save the explaining, when all tie-breakers were added up Carolina would be SEC Champions.
Kentucky’s furious second-half rally came up four points short and Arkansas mustered just 42 points in a 50-42 loss to LSU. Unfortunately, Carolina came up just short as well and finds itself in a four-way tie with Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and LSU for fourth place in the SEC with just three games left. Arkansas would get the fourth seed with a 3-1 record against the other three schools, LSU would be fifth with a 2-2 record, South Carolina falls to sixth with a 2-2 record with the loss to LSU, and Vanderbilt would finish seventh with a 1-3 record.
Kentucky and Tennessee are tied atop the SEC and split the head-to-head series. The next tiebreaker is their record against the highest-ranked SEC team, which is Georgia in third place. Tennessee is 2-0 against the Dawgs, while the Wildcats is 1-0. Since Kentucky only plays Georgia once, it goes to the fourth place team, Arkansas. Both teams are 1-0 against Arkansas so it goes to the fifth place team, LSU. Tennessee beat LSU and the Wildcats lost to LSU, so Tennessee would be first in the conference.
Alabama and Mississippi are tied for eleventh with 2-11 records. The team split the regular season series and the tiebreaker goes to the record against the top SEC team, Tennessee. Both lost to Tennessee so it would go to the second place team, Kentucky. Alabama would get the eleventh seed based on their win Thursday night and Mississippi twelfth.
Below are the SEC standings as of Thursday night, as well as the final opponents for each team.
Tennessee – 10-3 @Miss, Arky, UF
Kentucky – 10-3 Vandy, SC, @MSU
Georgia – 9-4 @UF, Miss, LSU
Arkansas – 8-5 MSU, @UT, @SC
LSU – 8-5 AU, Vandy, @UGA
South Carolina – 8-5 @Ala, @UK, Arky
Vanderbilt – 8-5 @UK, @LSU, Ala
Florida – 6-7 UGA, MSU, @UT
Mississippi State – 4-9 @Arky, @UF, UK
Auburn – 3-10 @LSU, Ala, Miss
Alabama – 2-11 SC, @AU, @Vandy
Mississippi – 2-11 UT, @UGA, @AU
Game 1 - Mississippi State (9) vs. Florida (8)
Game 2 – Auburn (10) vs. Vandy (7)
Game 3 – Mississippi (12) vs. LSU (5)
Game 4 – Alabama (11) vs. South Carolina (6)
Game 5 – Game 1 winner vs. Tennessee (1)
Game 6 – Game 2 winner vs. Kentucky (2)
Game 7 – Game 3 winner vs. Arkansas (4)
Game 8 – Game 4 winner vs. Georgia (3)
Game 9 – Game 5 vs. Game 7 winner
Game 10 – Game 6 winner vs. Game 8 winner
Game 11 – Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner
NCAA Tournament watch
At this point Carolina is still a firm NCAA Tournament team with an RPI in the 30's, but after losing two of three, the stock is beginning to drop. The Gamecocks would likely have to lose all three of the remaining games and its first game in the SEC Tournament to be in any danger of having their bubble burst. Getting win number 20 would all but guarantee them a berth in the NCAA Tournament, but could fall as low as the 9-12 seed range if they fail to win more than one of its final games.