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    The Rotation With Phil Bush

    SEC Volleyball Blog – Week 5 – 10/25/2013

    By: Phil Bush
    SEC Digital Network

    It’s all about balance.

    We are deep into the heart of the Southeastern Conference schedule. I don't think it can get a lot wilder, but I may be wrong. Based on Wednesday’s match between No. 15 Kentucky and Georgia, I am wrong.

    Look at what went on last week - there were 12 matches last weekend.
    • Number of 3 Set Matches: 3
    • Number of 4 Set Matches: 9 - yes, I said 9

    Think about that- nearly every match, regardless of RPI or ranking, is in question. Most teams believe if they are going four with a team, then they can win.

    Welcome to SEC volleyball 2013. Why is this so important?

    For years, the SEC was viewed as being a conference of the “haves” and “have nots.” Florida has clearly dominated play. Other schools were in and out of contention. Right now, if one looks at the Current RPI Rankings, it tells a much different story:

    3.  Florida
    7.  Missouri
    18. Kentucky
    23.  Arkansas
    30.  Georgia
    31.  LSU
    37.  Alabama
    58.  Texas A&M
    75.  Auburn
    100.  Ole Miss
    113.  South Carolina
    114.  Mississippi State
    163.  Tennessee

    At least seven SEC schools should be in the NCAA Tournament. Clearly those numbers may change.  But the wins and losses in conference are now very similar to the Pac-12 and Big 10: not upsets, but the nature of playing very tough competition in the conference.

    A couple of other examples of this: I was fortunate enough to be at Auburn to do FSN's broadcasts of Auburn/LSU and Auburn/Texas A&M. On paper the visiting team would have been the favorite.  But in 2013, life in the road in the SEC is not for the faint of heart. Auburn won both of these matches, and I am willing to bet both of the visiting teams felt they should have won.

    I encourage you to look at the box scores- the matches are getting better and better.

    Take a glance at this week. Already, speaking of balance, Wednesday, No. 15 Kentucky had to go back on the road to Athens to take on Georgia. This was between the No. 18 and No. 30 teams in RPI. The RPI ranking seems to be working pretty well.

    The scores, with Georgia winning (I am not using the term upset anymore) was:

    25-18, 23-25, 13-25, 25-21, and 23-21 in a grueling and amazing fifth Set.

    That is how we warmed up for the weekend.  

    Here are the rest of the matches for this weekend where 2 teams that are in the upper half of the SEC are squaring off.

    • Alabama at Georgia - Dead even in conference standings
    • Arkansas at Texas A&M - I suspect mad Aggies will be on fire
    • Auburn at Florida – And I suspect mad Gators.
    • Missouri at LSU - Who will stop Missouri? They are 23-0 - but they go to Baton Rouge and face off with the Tigers.

    • Alabama at Kentucky - Speaking of mad - I suspect mad Wildcats
    • Arkansas at LSU - Very tough match to determine
    • Missouri at Texas A&M – Two former Big 12 rivals square off.

    The volleyball in the SEC is getting better and better.  Right now, you can be at .500 in the conference and still be right in the thick of the race- both to be on top and to get to the NCAA.