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Evaluating Tennessee’s SEC Championship Chances With A Week Left In Season

NCAAM 2/26 Recap: #17 Tennessee Brings Down #3 Auburn 67-62

With one week left in the regular season, Tennessee is one game back in the SEC standings and has a narrow path to a share of its second regular conference title in Rick Barnes’ tenure.

Entering the final week of the season, Auburn leads the conference with a 13-3 record while Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas are all a game back of the Tigers at 12-4.

For Tennessee to claim a share of the title, the Vols must win out while getting some help from Auburn opponents.

The Tigers face Mississippi State in Starkville on Wednesday night before concluding its regular season with a home matchup against South Carolina Saturday.

Auburn is better than both teams, but Mississippi State is capable at home having lost just twice at Humphrey Coliseum this season. KenPom gives Auburn a 65% chance of beating Mississippi State, predicting a 73-69 Tigers win, and a 92% chance of beating South Carolina.

That math gives Auburn a 59.8% chance to win both of its games this week and clinch a solo conference title.

Tennessee plays its final true-road game on Tuesday, facing SEC bottomfeeder Georgia, before returning home to Thompson-Boling Arena to face Arkansas Saturday.

KenPom gives Tennessee a 93% chance to beat Georgia in Athens and a 74% chance to avenge last week’s loss at Arkansas. That gives Tennessee a 68.8% chance to win both of its games this week and put itself in a position to capitalize on an Auburn loss.

With a 40.2% chance of Auburn losing a game this week and a 68.8% of Tennessee winning out, the Vols have a 27.7% chance of earning a share of the conference title according to KenPom.

Unless Auburn massively chokes and loses both games this week, the Tigers will earn at least a share of the conference title. Let’s take a look at some tiebreaker scenarios if Auburn drops one game this week and Tennessee capitalizes.

Arkansas and Kentucky join Tennessee as teams currently one game behind Auburn. In this scenario, we’re assuming Tennessee beats Arkansas and eliminates the Razorbacks from the regular season title race.

If Kentucky beats Ole Miss at home and Florida on the road there would be a three-way tie atop the SEC standings between Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky.

According to the SEC tiebreaker rules, a three-team tie is decided by the “best winning percentage of games played among the tied teams”

Tennessee is 2-1 this season against Kentucky and Auburn, Auburn is 1-1 against Tennessee and Kentucky and Kentucky is 1-2 against the Vols and Tigers. That would make Tennessee the No. 1 seed in next month’s SEC Tournament.

It’s worth noting that in the event of a regular season tie, the SEC awards conference titles to all teams tied. So, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn would all receive SEC Championship trophies despite the Vols holding the tiebreaker.

If Kentucky drops a game this week — 33.3% chance of happening due to KenPom — Tennessee and Auburn would be tied atop the SEC standings with Tennessee holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

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