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It’s a good thing the SEC has football …

Dec 31, 2012, 12:04 PM EDT

Billy Donovan

The SEC had another awful, awful day on Sunday.

Alabama lost at home to Tulane 53-50. That’s the same Tulane that became the scapegoat for the breakup of the Big East after the Catholic 7 made it clear they weren’t happy about the addition of such a … “notable” basketball program.

But that wasn’t the worst loss the league suffered on Sunday. Mississippi State lost at home to Alabama A&M. That’s the same Alabama A&M that entered the game with an RPI of 326. The same Alabama A&M that entered the game with wins over Miles College, Oakwood and a Missouri State team that’s so bad this season that the Bulldogs actually have a higher RPI.

The SEC is now ninth in Conference RPI, according to TeamRankings.com, behind both the Atlantic 10 and the Missouri Valley and closer to Conference USA in 11th than they are to the Pac-12, which is currently sitting in sixth.

It begs the question: just how many at-large bids can the SEC earn? Florida and Missouri seem strong enough that they’ll be able to coast through the league with a good enough profile to earn an invite to the Big Dance.

But who else is?

Kentucky will enter league play with just one top 100 win, and if they beat Eastern Michigan on Wednesday, they’ll earn just their third top 200 win of the season. Tennessee has wins over Wichita State, Xavier and UMass, but they are playing without Jeronne Maymon and struggle to score 50 points in a game. Alabama has lost five of their last six games — losing to Dayton and Mercer in addition to Tulane — and is currently hanging their non-conference hat on a win over South Dakota State. Ole Miss is 10-2, but their best wins are McNeese State and Rutgers. LSU has beaten Seton Hall. Arkansas has beaten Oklahoma. Texas A&M beat Washington State and Stephen F. Austin, but also lost to Southern at home.

South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Auburn are all so bad that the league would be better off from an RPI if they simply didn’t play.

Even Florida looks weaker by the day, as wins over Marquette, Wisconsin and Florida State look less and less impressive with each mediocre performance.

It’s way too early to seriously be talking about NCAA tournament bids. We’re a third of the way through the season. Conference play is kicking off today.

That said, it’s worth noting now: the SEC’s non-conference profile is eerily reminiscent of the Pac-12’s from a season ago. And that’s not a good thing.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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