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SEC Tournament Seeding Probabilities

EDIT: The East division numbers have been updated to correct for a calculation error in the original publication that had slightly under-counted Kentucky's wins. The following information has also been updated to reflect that.

With only one week left to play in the regular season, the seeding for the SEC Tournament is beginning to shape up. To begin to think about possible matchups looming in Atlanta, we'll briefly examine the probabilities of seeding for each team in each division.

To determine overall seeding probabilities, seeding was determined for each combination of possible results for this week's 12 SEC games, with appropriate tiebreakers applied given the results. Each scenario was then weighted according to its probability based on individual game outcome probabilities supplied by as per their Sunday, 2/27, data.

WEST #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
Alabama 100.0%
Mississippi State
52.9% 31.6% 15.5%
Ole Miss 15.5% 46.4% 31.6%

LSU 94.0% 6.0%
Auburn 6.0% 94.0%

Alabama clinched the #1 seed in the West Division over a week ago. Mississippi State is in the strongest position to get the #2 seed and the other West Division bye--they can clinch by winning at Arkansas on Wednesday night--but Arkansas and Ole Miss are both very much alive for that spot. Any of those three teams could each end up anywhere from the #2 seed to the #4 seed. LSU and Auburn are locked into the #5 and #6 seeds, with LSU most likely to take the 5th spot.

EAST #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
Florida 100.0%
Vanderbilt 51.5% 37.5% 9.5% 1.5%
Kentucky 41.9% 40.5% 13.0% 4.6%
Georgia 2.4% 16.9% 65.2% 15.5%
Tennessee 4.2% 5.1% 12.3% 78.4%
South Carolina 100.0%

Things start out simply enough in the East Division, as Florida clinched the #1 seed last week and South Carolina clinched the #6 seed this weekend. Aside from that, though, any of the four remaining teams could all possibly end up anywhere from the #2 seed to the #5 seed. In fact, there are six games left involving these four teams, and thus 64 possible scenarios, all of which involve different standings orders and the use of different tiebreakers. The only thing simple about the possible outcomes is that Vanderbilt has the inside track for the #2 seed and the other bye from the East Division. They can clinch it with a win in either of their two games this week (Kentucky away, Florida home). (Edit: they can clinch by beating Kentucky on Tuesday, but not necessarily by only winning against Florida on Saturday). Other than Vandy clinching the #2 seed, though, the seeding outcomes for the other teams are too complicated to describe, though each of the 64 possible outcomes (weighted by probability) is taken into account in the above chart.

Below the jump we'll examine how these seeding probabilities could affect SEC Tournament matchups.

Here is the tournament bracket, with possible teams listed in order of probability for each slot.

W1) Alabama
E4) UGa/UK/UT/VU 12:00 Friday ------------------
12:00 Thursday ------------------
W5) LSU or AU 12:00 Saturday ------------------
W3) UM/MSU/UAr 2:30 Friday ------------------
2:30 Thursday ------------------
E6) South Carolina 12:00 Sunday ------------------
E1) Florida
W4) UAr/UM/MSU 6:30 Friday ------------------
6:30 Thursday ------------------
E5) UT/UGa/UK/VU 2:30 Saturday ------------------
E3) UK/UGa/VU/UT 9:00 Friday ------------------
9:00 Thursday ------------------
W6) AU or LSU

Ever since Alabama beat Arkansas over a week ago, we have known that the Tide would be playing in the opening game on Friday against the winner of Thursday afternoon's game against the East #4 seed and the West #5 seed. It is likely that the West #5 seed will be LSU (94.2%), though there is still a chance it could be Auburn (5.8%). No matter which set of Tigers it is, though, they will be heavy underdogs against the East's #4 seed.

Georgia appears to be the most likely to end up in the 4th spot (65.2%), which could mean back-to-back games against the Bulldogs for Alabama. However, even though Georgia is the most likely at this point, it is still possible it could be any of the other three teams in the East Division logjam. If not Georgia, the most likely team would be Kentucky (13.0%), a team no one wants to play in front of 20,000-30,000 Big Blue fans in Atlanta. Tennessee is also a decent possibility (12.3%), as is Vanderbilt (9.5%).

Bama's potential matchup in this game will be extremely important, as that game could be the difference between the Tide getting an NCAA berth and being left in the NIT.