5-at-10: SEC basketball tournament contenders, best college QB ever, Titans new GM and maybe QB?

Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) tries to get past Arkansas guard Davonte Davis (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) tries to get past Arkansas guard Davonte Davis (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

SEC tournament teams

We scan the SEC basketball standings on Thursdays around these parts.

Today, we will alter the prism a touch considering we are only two months from the start of the NCAA tournament.

That's right, in eight weeks (and roughly two hours from the 10 a.m. post time of this puppy), your brackets will start to be busted and March will become mad.

(Side note: Man, we are going to have to come up with some special things on the Plays of the Day for that first Thursday and Friday. Thoughts? Because 5 p.m. is going to miss half a day of Madness, and that can't happen.)

And since the tournament is the ticket in a sport that has embraced a wonderfully priceless postseason in exchange for a relatively pointless regular season, let's bracketize.

(Side question: Bracket has really become a word that can accept almost any suffix at this point, right? It started with bracketology. I'm fine with bracketize. This also could be some bracketization. And during that Monday through Wednesday night when we are trying to figure out who the best 12 seed is because at least one 12 always beats a 5, that certainly could be some bracketalooza, no? Discuss.)

In position for a 1 seed: Alabama is clearly there with a realtimeRPI.com ranking of 2. In truth, so is Tennessee, even with the skittish offensive showing of the last 96 hours. The Vols are 10th in realtimeRPI.com's standings.

In the tournament: Auburn (8th in realtimeRPI.com) has a better résumé than I realized and has a couple of chances in front of them to find its way into the top 3-seed lines.

(Side note: For all the consternation -- and it was needed considering some of the non-conference eggs that were laid -- the SEC is the only conference in college hoops with three teams in the top 10 in the RPI. So there's that. Only the Big 12 has more than one top 10 team with Kansas and Kansas State -- and both of those clubs are slap nasty -- with Iowa State just outside at 11.)

Arkansas (26th) is next among SEC teams, but the Hogs lost again last night and have multiple NBA players battling significant injuries. Simply put, though, the Hogs are 1-5 in the league, and that's going to need to be rectified in a big way.

Missouri, which beat the Hogs last night, is 14-4 and 39th in the RPI standings and has a daunting gauntlet before it. Conversely, it's also a great opportunity. Saturday at home against Bama. Iowa State the following Saturday and trips to UT and Auburn next month. Split those, and the Tigers will have a tournament resumé.

Which brings us to Kentucky and Texas A&M. The Aggies are 5-0 in the league and have won seven straight.

But a nonconference with losses to Wofford, Memphis and a good Boise State team as well as a tail-beating from Colorado means Buzz Williams and crew will need a top-three finish in the league to feel comfortable come selection Sunday if you ask me.

As for Kentucky, the name on the front of the jersey matters in this discussion whether you want to admit it or not. Or whether it should or not.

Kentucky is 11-6 and has an RPI of 78, which is one ahead of Georgia and behind fellow SEC programs Mississippi State (59), LSU (68), Florida (70) and A&M (75). Ouch-standing.

Heck Seattle is 76th and MTSU is 77th, so there's that, too.

But Kentucky's best basketball is in front of it, in my view and with five ranked teams (counting Arkansas twice) still on the schedule, the RPI can be massaged.

That said for UK to make the dance, all the mulligans were spent against South Carolina.

I think the league gets at least five -- the SEC does have the second-best conference RPI in the country behind only the Big 12 -- and maybe more than that.


Best vs. Greatest

Man, there's the rub right?

Is Brady the GOAT but maybe Rodgers or Peyton or someone else was the best? Could be discussed.

I offer this because Paul Finebaum posted on Twitter, "Who's the best college QB ever?" and I'm not sure this one can be answered.

My default is almost always Tommie Frazier from Nebraska in the mid-1990s. He was impossible to stop.

In the locker room, I think I would want Tim Tebow. Joe Burrow had the best statistical season; Cam Newton did the most with the least.

And then comes the Stetson Bennett crew. Dude has a Brady-like résumé with back-to-back nattys, two title game MVPs and a Heisman invitee.


Playoffs can wait

So the NFL Divisional Round is this weekend, and it normally is the most compelling postseason round of them all.

That said, to surpass last week's Super Wildcard Round will take some doing. But those projections and predictions can wait.

This story caught my eye as the Tennessee Titans hire Ran Carthon to replace Jon Robinson as their GM this week.

First, have we got a clear reason on why Robinson was fired? Yes, the recent draft picks have flamed out, and that matters. And letting AJ Brown walk has allowed the Eagles to be the biggest favorite to reach the Super Bowl left in the tournament.

But that went from zero to pink slips rather quickly. Still Carthon has two things on the pro side of the ledger that make me believe he's ready for the gig.

First, he formerly was the director of player personnel at San Francisco, which has assembled possibly the best and deepest roster across the league. I mean how many other franchises are poised to make a Super Bowl with a third-team QB?

Second, a cryptic social media post of "fingers crossed" emoji from 49ers rookie Trey Lance after the hiring was announced has a lot of folks buzzing that is a sign of a possible reunion.

And considering what we've seen of Lance -- and what we know about an almost certain Titans rebuild -- that would be a pretty good place to start all things considered.

This and that

-- You know the rules -- especially when it's news to use like this one -- so here's Paschall on the names that came and went in Knoxville during the portal process.

-- In case you were wondering, UTC's RPI is 164.

-- How about this stat? Trevor Lawrence is 37-0 on Saturdays as a starting QB dating back to his time at Cartersville High in Georgia. Nuts, right?

-- Speaking of Lawrence's time at Cartersville, did you see that his former coach is now at Carrollton High in West Georgia and had the MaxPreps 2022 freshman of the year. Julian Lewis is his name and he only threw for 4,118 yards and 48 TDs while completing 65.6% of his throws. He'll be awesome at Georgia in four years, I bet.

-- This headline truly makes you see the genius in our legal system these days. "Judge says stabbing suspect violated restraining order by 'murdering' woman." I would have to agree.

-- How hot have the picks been? Well, going 1-1 (and missing a free-bet match parlay because of two free throws with less than 2 seconds left at 12:39 a.m. in Los Angeles) felt like a downer. So it goes, but Nebraska going under has been white hot in the month of January.

Today's questions

It's an anything-goes Thursday, so fire away. And we have some mailbag space available, too.

As for today, Jan. 19, let's review.

On this day 10 years, Lance Armstrong admitted to lying about using steroids.

Dolly is 77 today. Have we ever done a Rushmore of Tennesseans?

Dolly makes it, right?

Go and remember the mailbag.