Check the Math: MSU Could Get No. 4 Seed in SEC Tourney

In today’s Journal I wrote a column examining the seeding possibilities for Mississippi State in next week’s SEC Tournament (CLICK HERE). I wrote that the highest seed MSU could hope for was a five, and while that’s the most realistic possibility, there is a mathematical possibility that it earns a No. 4 seed.

The scenario must involve Florida, which is currently in the No. 4 seed position. I’ve determined that only one possible scenario gives MSU that spot. Here’s what would have to happen. Try to stay with me.

• MSU would have to sweep Kentucky this weekend; Auburn would have to sweep Florida; and Ole Miss would have to take two of three from Vanderbilt. That would put State, Florida and Ole Miss all at 16-14 in league play and tied for fourth in the overall standings, assuming Georgia (13-13) doesn’t finish with a better mark.

• The first three-way tie-breaker the SEC uses is each teams’ collective record against the other two teams. In this case, the Bulldogs, Gators and Rebels all have 3-3 marks. So you go to the next tie-breaker, which is each team’s record against the No. 1 seed, and this is where it gets sorta tricky.

• If MSU sweeps Kentucky (18-9), then either LSU (17-10) or South Carolina (17-9) would become the No. 1 overall seed. Why? Because the Tigers and Gamecocks play each other this weekend, and one of those teams will win at least two games and get to 19 wins.

Let’s say LSU is the No. 1 seed. MSU, UF and Ole Miss each went 1-2 against the Tigers, so you toss that out and go to the teams’ records against the No. 2 seed. Let’s say that’s South Carolina. Well, Ole Miss didn’t play SC this season, so that tie-breaker doesn’t apply, and we go to the third seed.

In this hypothetical scenario, in which MSU sweeps Kentucky, then Kentucky would be the No. 3 seed, and the Bulldogs would have the tie-break advantage by virtue of the sweep (Florida went 2-1 vs. UK, Ole Miss 1-2).

If South Carolina winds up the No. 1 seed and/or Kentucky winds up with the No. 2, then the tie-breakers play out the same, and MSU earns the No. 4 seed.

Again, this is all predicated upon two very unlikely events: No. 3-ranked Florida being swept by Auburn, and MSU sweeping No. 4-ranked Kentucky. But stranger things have happened. We just saw UF lose to Samford last night, and Auburn took two of three from Arkansas last weekend. It’s got Florida at home, where the Tigers are 21-11 this season.

It won’t take much to render the above scenario moot. Again, Georgia could sweep lowly Alabama and finish a half-game up on all three teams. Arkansas (13-14) could enter the tie-break fray with a sweep at Tennessee, but I’ve not done all the necessary homework to determine whether the Hogs could get the fourth seed.

(I do know that Vanderbilt could wind up the No. 4 seed. Mind-blowing considering where the Commodores were just three weeks ago.)

If you want to work through various tie-break scenarios yourself, you can CLICK HERE to view the SEC’s tie-breaker rules. Here are the current league standings, followed by this weekend’s schedule:


1. Kentucky, 18-9

2. South Carolina, 17-9

3. Florida, 16-11

4. Georgia, 13-13

5. Vanderbilt, 13-14

6. Tennessee, 8-19


1. LSU, 17-10

2. Ole Miss, 14-13

T3. Arkansas, 13-14

T3. MSU, 13-14

5. Auburn, 12-15

6. Alabama, 7-20

Note: Alabama and Tennessee will not qualify for the SEC Tournament.

This weekend

• Kentucky (18-9) at MSU (13-14)

• Arkansas (13-14) at Tennessee (8-19)

• Florida (16-11) at Auburn (12-15)

• LSU (17-10) at South Carolina (17-9)

• Georgia (13-13) at Alabama (7-20)

• Ole Miss (14-13) at Vanderbilt (13-14)