Editor’s note: I spent about an hour crunching various SEC Tournament seeding scenarios. If I’ve missed anything – it’s possible and/or likely I have – please let me know by commenting below or @-ing me on Twitter (@CodyWorsham)
LSU’s loss at South Carolina on Wednesday night all but rules out any hopes of an NCAA tournament at-large berth, according to the statisticians.
TeamRankings.net has the Tigers’ hopes, should they not win the SEC Tournament next week, down to a 1.7% chance. The website also gives LSU less than a 1% chance of winning the SEC Tournament outright to earn the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
The NIT is still no certain destination, either. If LSU loses its next two – home against Mississippi State on Saturday and its SEC Tournament opener – it could miss on that tournament, too. One win will solidify its NIT berth, it would seem; two wins should wrap it up.
The Tigers’ focus for now, then, has to be taking care of business at home Saturday, and then doing some damage in the SEC Tournament.
Heading into the final regular season game of the season, LSU sits in the 12 spot, the loser of a three-way tiebreaker between themselves, South Carolina and Georgia. The first tiebreaker in a three-way tie is winning percentage vs. the tied teams, and LSU is the clear loser, having lost to both the Gamecocks and the Bulldogs.
The immediate goal for the Tigers would be to get to at least 10th place, assuring a first-round bye. LSU will finish no higher than 9th and no lower than 12th.
Four games matter Saturday for LSU’s placement: their contest with Mississippi State; South Carolina at Auburn; Georgia at Tennessee, and Alabama at Texas A&M.
The good news is that LSU will be favored to beat Mississippi State – TeamRankings puts the odds at Tiger win at just over 61 percent.
The other good news is South Carolina and Georgia travel to play the top two teams in the SEC – both of whom will have conference titles on the line. Anything can happen, but they’ll be underdogs.
How LSU gets the 9th seed:
LSU, Alabama, and Tennessee win
LSU will win the following two tie-breakers: a two-team tie with A&M, who it is 2-0 against. Or, LSU would win a three-team tie with South Carolina and A&M. LSU would be 2-1 against those two teams and win the 9 seed; South Carolina would be 1-1 and be the 10 seed; A&M would be 1-2 and be the 11-seed.
The Auburn-South Carolina result doesn’t matter to LSU’s seeding if the three results above hold.
How LSU gets the 10th seed:
LSU, Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn win
This would create a three-way tie with LSU, Georgia, and A&M all at 8-10. Georgia is 2-1 against this group and would get the 9 seed. LSU is 2-2 and would get the 10 seed. A&M is 1-2 and would get the 11 seed. This is the only scenario I’ve crunched in which LSU finishes in the 10 spot.
LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Tennessee win
LSU would land in a ninth-place tie with Alabama at 8-10, losing the tiebreaker but still getting the bye. This seems like the likeliest scenario to me. All these results would be the expected results, which means it definitely won’t happen because college basketball.
How LSU gets the 11th seed:
LSU win, South Carolina or Georgia win, Texas A&M win
If this happens, LSU ends up in a three-way tie at 8-10 with either Alabama and Georgia or Alabama and South Carolina and finishes last in the tie-breaker, having zero wins over either of those three teams.
How LSU gets the 12th seed
Georgia and South Carolina win
Even if LSU wins, this creates a four-way tie with LSU, Georgia, A&M or Alabama, and South Carolina at 8-10. LSU finishes last in both four-team tie breakers. (2-3 vs. UGA/A&M/SC; 0-5 vs. UGA/BAMA/SC)
LSU loses to Mississippi State
If LSU loses to State, they can’t leapfrog either South Carolina or Georgia.