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Kentucky's 76-74 overtime win Saturday against Texas Tech in Lubbock was huge for the Wildcats, but also for the SEC.

In a couple of days it will be February, and the SEC coaches will begin to talk about how competitive their league is and how they deserve eight or nine bids.

They can talk until they are blue in the face, but the SEC will be lucky to get five teams in the Big Dance.

That is exactly how many are being projected on and

Jerry Palm at has Kentucky a No. 5 seed, Auburn a No. 6, Arkansas and LSU at No. 7, and Florida a No. 11.

Joe Lunardi at has Auburn a No. 4, Kentucky No. 5, LSU No. 6, Arkansas No. 8 and Florida No. 9.

If you look at the current NCAA NET rankings, those are the five teams that are ranked high enough to make the field.

The NET replaced the old RPI and is a definite resource for the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The Net rankings are: No. 20 Auburn, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 25 LSU, No. 28 Arkansas and No. 37 Florida.

Florida got beat pretty badly by No. 1 Baylor on Saturday, but what is really biting the Gators on the tail are earlier losses to UConn, which is 1-5 in conference play, and Utah State, which is 5-4 in league play.

With 12 conference games to play anything can happen, and the Gators are on the road to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. Except against the Wildcats, all of those are winnable.

Their six games at home are against Mississippi State, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, LSU and Kentucky. They should go into the SEC Tournament in good shape.

The hot team right now is Alabama, which has won four consecutive games starting with home victories over Auburn and Missouri before getting a win at Vanderbilt, then back at home in a 77-74 victory over Kansas State. Only Auburn is a likely NCAA Tournament team from that lot.

With those four victories, the Tide have moved up to No. 41 in the NET rankings. That's flirting with the wrong side of the bubble.

Mississippi State is hanging in that same area at No. 48, and seven of its final 12 games are on the road against Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Missouri and South Carolina.

Tennessee is ranked No. 54, and that means the Vols have a ton of work to do.

Barring the wheels coming off, Kentucky, Auburn and LSU look like locks to participate in March Madness.

Of course, everyone gets a lifeline with the SEC Tournament, but rarely do true underdogs win that.

The Razorbacks just need to keep doing what they have been doing: Take the floor believing they can win because they are more prepared; play hard on both ends of the court; and continue playing unselfish and smart.

The Razorbacks don't have an easy road for the rest of the regular season, but they do have opportunities to avenge two of their three losses.

They will host Mississippi State on Feb. 15, and that game is already sold out. They also host LSU on March 4 in a game that should be sold out.

They also have home games with South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri and Tennessee, and road games at Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M.

We are in the good part of the season where every game is important, there are no gimmes, and the light at the end of the tunnel is the NCAA Tournament.

Before this season began, few gave the University of Arkansas a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. Now, it is completely up to the Razorbacks.

Sports on 01/28/2020


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