Updated SEC Basketball RPI for Jan. 7: Auburn jumps to the top

In Features by Blake Lovell

There’s a new team at the top of the SEC basketball RPI for January 7.

Auburn, who is riding a 12-game winning streak after wins over No. 22 Arkansas and No. 23 Tennessee this past week, now leads the pack in jumping all the way up to No. 9, according to RealTimeRPI.com.

The Tigers sport a 14-1 record overall and will host Ole Miss and travel to Mississippi State this upcoming week.

Meanwhile, eight SEC teams currently sit in the top 50, while all but two teams are in the top 80.

Florida made a significant rise after winning a thriller at Missouri, and LSU vaulted up to No. 80 after scoring a buzzer-beater victory at Texas A&M.

Lovell’s Analysis

If you want evidence as to why as many as eight SEC teams could make the NCAA Tournament, here you go.

The conference’s strong showing in pre-conference play has led to high RPI numbers across the board, and with teams playing each other the rest of the way (while also taking part in the Big 12/SEC Challenge), there are going to be even more opportunities to keep those numbers in fine shape.

Of course, Auburn’s jump is certainly the most noteworthy. Many people underestimated Bruce Pearl’s ability to rally this team following the off-the-court incidents involving the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, and the Tigers have simply proven their doubters wrong.

Pearl’s old team, Tennessee, is also back in good shape after scoring its third straight home win over Kentucky. The Vols couldn’t afford an 0-3 start in SEC play, so Saturday’s win in Knoxville was huge.

As we’ve already seen through one week of conference play, anyone can beat anyone.

And the fact that Texas A&M, who entered the week ranked No. 11 in the country, is the only winless team left in league play, it shows you the depth of this conference.

The Aggies will need to get back at full strength soon so that they don’t find themselves in a position that they can’t fight out of.

Although, it may get worse before it gets better, as Billy Kennedy’s team must travel to take on Kentucky and Tennessee this week.

Welcome to the grind that is the 2017-18 edition of SEC basketball.

Blake Lovell is the founder of Southeast Hoops. He hosts the Marching to Madness podcast, which features interviews with coaches around the country. He also hosts a weekly college basketball show on WNSR 560AM/95.9 FM in Nashville. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Athlon Sports, Rivals, FanRag Sports, and many more.