All of Tennessee’s remaining SEC conference standings scenarios, from best to worst

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Knoxville, Tennessee. It may well be our prettiest day of the year thus far. As you would expect, I have taken full advantage of this day to write a very silly blog about everywhere Tennessee could finish in the SEC standings. As of this writing, per my understanding of the SEC rulebook, Tennessee basketball can finish anywhere from fifth to eleventh by the time the regular season wraps itself up in six days. I’ve broken down every possible scenario as I understand it, from the silliest (a six-way tie for fourth) to the easiest. Here’s all of ’em.

WIN OUT, FINISH 18-13 (10-8)

This one’s obviously a stretch. Tennessee has won once at Rupp Arena in the last 20 years, and it took some heroic efforts to make it happen. Still, this Kentucky team hasn’t cracked KenPom’s Top 25 in a month, and anything technically is possible. There’s about a 12% chance Tennessee wins out, per KenPom.

As it stands, as many as six teams can technically finish 10-8. Mississippi State (10-6) plays South Carolina (9-7) this week, but that’s the only game involving multiple teams of the six pack, which also includes Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Alabama. All of the scenarios are listed below, from most to least stupid.

  • All of Mississippi State, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Alabama finish 10-8. First off, it would be proof that we are indeed living in a simulation. Secondly, here’s how this would shake out. The SEC’s first tiebreaker is opponent records within a group to be tie-broken. Assuming everything we need happens, here’s how that looks:
    • Florida 3-2, Miss State 4-3, South Carolina 4-4, Tennessee 3-3, Texas A&M 3-3, Alabama 2-4.
  • SOOOOOOOOO here’s how that would look. Florida, by virtue of having the highest winning percentage, would be #4. Mississippi State is next at #5. All of South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas A&M have the same winning percentage; Alabama brings up the rear at #9. It then proceeds to how you did against the #1 seed on down. Considering both South Carolina and Tennessee would have wins over Kentucky, this would lock Texas A&M down at #8. Thenconsidering South Carolina only had to play Kentucky once instead of twice, thereby owning a 1-0 record vs. Tennessee’s 1-1, this would lock in South Carolina as the #6 and Tennessee as the #7. Take a deep breath. This would mean Tennessee plays the #10 seed, which could be any of four different teams, on Thursday at 7 PM ET.

That was pretty stupid. What if we took some ties that are also very stupid and went through them, one-by-one?

  • A five-team tie for fourth involving Mississippi State, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. Again, so dumb it makes me angry. But in this scenario, the group standings would be Florida 2-2, Miss State 3-2, South Carolina 4-3, Tennessee 2-3, Texas A&M 2-3. Mississippi State would be #4, South Carolina #5, Florida #6, Texas A&M #7, Tennessee #8.
  • A five-team tie for fourth, but with Alabama instead of Texas A&M. Florida 2-2, Miss State 4-2, South Carolina 2-4, Tennessee 3-2, Alabama 2-3. Mississippi State would be #4, Tennessee #5, Florida #6, Alabama #7, South Carolina #8. Tennessee would play the winner of the 12/13 game (Wednesday, 7 PM ET) on Thursday at about 3:30 PM ET.
  • A five-team tie for fifth, with everybody but Mississippi State. I am really regretting doing this. Florida 3-1, South Carolina 4-2, Tennessee 3-2, Texas A&M 2-3, Alabama 1-3. Florida would be #4, South Carolina #5, Tennessee #6, Texas A&M #7, Alabama #8. Tennessee would play the winner of the 11/14 game (Wednesday, 9:30 PM ET) on Thursday at about 9:30 PM ET.
  • A four-team tie for fourth, involving Florida, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and…sure, South Carolina. Florida 1-2, Miss State 3-1, Tennessee 2-2, South Carolina 3-2. Mississippi State #4, South Carolina #5, Tennessee #6, Florida #7. Tennessee would play the winner of the 11/14 game (Wednesday, 9:30 PM ET) on Thursday at about 9:30 PM ET.
  • A four-team tie for fifth, involving Florida, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Alabama. This scenario would require South Carolina to win both and finish fourth, as we’ve already resolved the “what if South Carolina beats Miss State but loses their other game” question above. Florida 1-2, Miss State 3-1, Tennessee 2-1, Alabama 1-3. Mississippi State #5, Tennessee #6, Florida #7, Alabama #8. Tennessee would play the winner of the 11/14 game (Wednesday, 9:30 PM ET) on Thursday at about 9:30 PM ET.
  • A four-team tie for fifth, involving Florida, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. Last one of the big ones we’ll do. Florida 1-2, Miss State 2-1, Tennessee 1-2, Texas A&M 2-1. Texas A&M beat Mississippi State, so they would be the #5 and Mississippi State the #6. Tennessee beat Florida, so they would be the #7 and Florida the #8. This would mean Tennessee plays the #10 seed, which could be any of four different teams, on Thursday at 7 PM ET.

Here’s how a wide variety of three-way ties at 10-8 would resolve themselves.

  • Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi State: Tennessee 1-1, Florida 0-2, Mississippi State 2-0. MSU > Tennessee > Florida.
  • Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina: Tennessee 2-1, Florida 1-1, South Carolina 1-2. Tennessee > Florida > South Carolina.
  • Tennessee, Florida, Alabama: Tennessee 2-0, Florida 1-1, Alabama 0-2. Tennessee > Florida > Alabama.
  • Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M: Tennessee 1-1, Florida 1-1, Texas A&M 1-1. This then goes to record against 1 seed: Tennessee 1-1, Florida 0-2, Texas A&M 0-1. Tennessee > the other two.
  • Tennessee, Mississippi State, South Carolina: Tennessee 1-2, Miss State 2-1, South Carolina 2-2. MSU > South Carolina > Tennessee.
  • Tennessee, Mississippi State, Alabama: Tennessee 1-1, Miss State 2-1, Alabama 1-2. MSU > Tennessee > Alabama.
  • Tennessee, Mississippi State, Texas A&M: Tennessee 0-2, Miss State 1-1, Texas A&M 2-0. A&M > MSU > Tennessee.
  • Tennessee, Alabama, Texas A&M: Tennessee 1-1, Alabama 0-2, Texas A&M 2-0. A&M > Tennessee > Alabama.

If it gets down to two-way ties, those are all fairly simple.

  • Tennessee vs. Florida: Tennessee defeated Florida and owns the tiebreaker.
  • Tennessee vs. South Carolina: Tennessee split the season series with South Carolina, but South Carolina would own a 1-0 record against #1 seed Kentucky to Tennessee’s 1-1. They own the tiebreaker.
  • Tennessee vs. Mississippi State: Tennessee lost to Mississippi State and would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • Tennessee vs. Alabama: Tennessee defeated Alabama and owns the tiebreaker.
  • Tennessee vs. Texas A&M: Tennessee lost to Texas A&M and would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker.

A no-tie scenario involving six different teams is…not likely. But obviously, you’ll know where Tennessee lies.

GO 1-1, FINISH 17-14 (9-9)

This is currently the most likely of the three outcomes for Tennessee. The Vols will be favored to lose at Kentucky, yet favored to defeat Auburn at home.

Four teams can still finish 9-9 in this scenario. South Carolina would have to lose out to finish 9-9; all of Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas A&M would have to finish 1-1. The odds of all of these things happening hover around 2%, which is…not 0%!

  • In the event of a four-team tie: South Carolina’s 3-2 record against the group would be best, placing them #6. Texas A&M is next at 2-2, placing them #7. Tennessee went 2-3 among these three opponents, making them #8. Alabama went 1-2, which is a lower winning percentage than Tennessee’s 2-3, making them #9. Tennessee would play Alabama in the 8/9 game on Thursday at 1 PM ET.

Alternately, there is the more likely scenario that all three teams go 1-1 while South Carolina goes 1-1 or 2-0 to lock up the #6 spot. This is currently hovering around 17%, which sounds low, but is a fairly high probability for anything involving three teams and six separate outcomes.

  • In the event of a three-team tie: Texas A&M went 2-0 against this group, placing them #7. Tennessee went 1-1, beating Alabama but losing to Texas A&M; this makes them #8 again. Same deal for Alabama, who goes #9. Tennessee would play Alabama in the 8/9 game on Thursday at 1 PM ET.

Now, let’s get into some simpler, yet less likely scenarios. As it stands, Texas A&M will be heavy underdogs to Auburn this week while being slight underdogs to Arkansas. For Alabama, they are large favorites over Vanderbilt and small favorites over Missouri. Tennessee, currently, is a moderate underdog at Kentucky and a small favorite over Alabama. For the purposes of our, uh, “simulation,” we will assume that Tennessee goes 1-1 in this. These are all hypothetical two-way ties.

  • Alabama goes 2-0, Tennessee 1-1, Texas A&M 1-1. Because of Texas A&M’s win over Tennessee, they get the #8 seed as Tennessee gets #9. Same deal as our other sims, but Tennessee would instead play Texas A&M in the 8/9 game.
  • Alabama goes 1-1, Tennessee 1-1, Texas A&M 0-2. Due to Tennessee’s win over Alabama, they would finish #7 in the conference as Alabama finishes #8 and Texas A&M #9. Currently, four different teams can finish #10 – Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, and Ole Miss. Tennessee would draw the…winner? of this quadrant in the 7/10 game on Thursday at 7 PM ET.
  • Texas A&M goes 1-1 or better, Tennessee 1-1, Alabama 0-2. Texas A&M owns the tiebreaker over Tennessee, so they would finish #7. Tennessee gets #8 and draws Alabama in the 8/9 game on Thursday at 1 PM ET.

Now, for all of the no-tie scenarios.

  • Alabama goes 2-0, Tennessee 1-1, Texas A&M 0-2. Tennessee is the #8 seed and plays Texas A&M at 1 PM ET on Thursday.
  • Texas A&M goes 2-0, Tennessee 1-1, Alabama 0-2. Tennessee is the #8 seed and plays Alabama at 1 PM ET on Thursday.
  • Both Alabama AND Texas A&M go 2-0, Tennessee 1-1. Tennessee is the #9 seed. By virtue of Texas A&M’s win over Alabama, Tennessee would play Alabama at 1 PM ET on Thursday.
  • Both Alabama AND Texas A&M go 0-2, Tennessee 1-1. Tennessee is the #7 seed. They would play the 10 seed, likely either Arkansas or Missouri, at 7 PM ET on Thursday.

LOSE OUT, FINISH 16-15 (8-10)

Oh God.

As many as five teams can technically finish 8-10: Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Missouri. This would determine slots 7-11 in the SEC standings, if it did happen. The odds of all five teams doing this are incredibly low, but here’s how that tie would break out.

  • A five-way tie between these five teams goes like this: Alabama 1-4, Tennessee 3-2, Texas A&M 4-2, Arkansas 5-2, Missouri 2-5. The teams would slot like so: Arkansas #7, A&M #8, Tennessee #9, Missouri #10, Alabama #11. Tennessee would play Texas A&M in the 8/9 game on Thursday at 1 PM ET.

Let’s just get the four-way ties over with.

  • Any four-way tie between Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Arkansas: Alabama 0-3, Tennessee 2-2, Texas A&M 2-2, Arkansas 4-1. Arkansas > Texas A&M > Tennessee > Alabama.
  • Any four-way tie between Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Missouri: Admittedly really hard to envision this happening? Alabama 1-3, Tennessee 2-1, Texas A&M 3-1, Missouri 1-4. Texas A&M > Tennessee > Alabama > Missouri.
  • Any four-way tie between Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri: Alabama 1-3, Tennessee 3-1, Arkansas 3-2, Missouri 2-3. Tennessee > Arkansas > Missouri > Alabama.

I think that’s it? Here’s all the possible three-way ties involving Tennessee.

  • We already resolved Tennessee, Texas A&M, Alabama above. Texas A&M > Tennessee > Alabama.
  • Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas: Tennessee 2-1, Alabama 0-2, Arkansas 1-2. Tennessee > Arkansas > Alabama.
  • Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri: Tennessee 2-0, Alabama 1-2, Missouri 1-2. Tennessee > Alabama > Missouri, I think.
  • Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri: Tennessee 2-1, Arkansas 2-2, Missouri 1-2. Tennessee > Arkansas > Missouri.
  • Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas: Tennessee 1-2, Texas A&M 2-1, Arkansas 2-1. Texas A&M/Arkansas > Tennessee.
  • Tennessee, Texas A&M, Missouri: Tennessee 1-1, Texas A&M 3-0, Missouri 0-3. Texas A&M > Tennessee > Missouri.

Two-way ties:

  • Tennessee vs. Alabama: Tennessee defeated Alabama and owns the tiebreaker.
  • Tennessee vs. Texas A&M: Tennessee lost to Texas A&M and would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • Tennessee vs. Arkansas: Tennessee and Arkansas split the season series. Both would have no wins against Auburn; Arkansas’s theoretical win over LSU would give them the tiebreaker over Tennessee.
  • Tennessee vs. Missouri: Tennessee defeated Missouri and owns the tiebreaker.

If I’ve messed something up, please email statsbywill@gmail.com. Hopefully, it does not get as complicated as some of these scenarios may suggest.

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