- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

Top-ranked Kentucky is chasing perfection and No. 18 Arkansas has all but locked up a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Behind those two, the SEC has plenty of drama as the season winds toward Selection Sunday.

Georgia, Mississippi, LSU and Texas A&M; are all on the NCAA Tournament bubble. All may need a few more wins to crack the top 68.

Georgia (19-10) had a huge opportunity to lock up a spot in the bracket on Tuesday, when it led Kentucky by nine with nine minutes left. The Wildcats, like they always do, found a way to pull it out and likely left the Bulldogs needing a solid run in the conference tournament.

Georgia has beaten Ole Miss twice and has a win over Texas A&M; to give it a slight advantage over those bubble teams. But the Bulldogs also have an early-season loss to Georgia Tech on their resume and were swept by middling South Carolina.

Georgia probably can’t afford a loss to Auburn on Saturday.

Mississippi (20-10) picked up a huge win on Tuesday, knocking off Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Rebels have non-conference losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, but won road games against Oregon and Arkansas, not to mention taking Kentucky to overtime.

Mississippi should be in decent shape for the bracket, but a home loss against Vanderbilt on Saturday would not be good.

Texas A&M; (20-9) took a hit with Tuesday’s loss to Florida, but there aren’t any real glaring losses on its resume. Problem is there aren’t really any standout wins, either.

The Aggies have a weak strength of schedule (73) and their RPI of 47 doesn’t jump off the page. Texas A&M; did take Kentucky to double overtime, but that feels like a long time ago. The Aggies could use a win over Alabama on Saturday and a decent run in the SEC tournament to feel safe.

LSU (21-9) has some shaky looking losses this season and one of those came on Wednesday, when the Tigers lost at home to Tennessee. LSU has a weak strength of schedule (81) and its RPI of 54 is not great.

A road win over Arkansas on Saturday could give them a huge boost.

Alabama was once in decent position for an NCAA invite, but has gone into a free fall since guard Ricky Tarrant went down for the season with a knee injury. The Tide have lost four of their past six games, including their home setback to Ole Miss on Tuesday,

A few more teams rising and falling on the NCAA Tournament bubble:

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ON THE RISE

Iowa. The Hawkeyes (20-10) are picking the right time to pick it up. Iowa has won six straight games since ugly losses to Northwestern and Minnesota, including Tuesday’s 14-point victory over fellow bubble team Indiana.

Dayton. A four-point victory over Virginia Commonwealth should put the Flyers (23-6) in good position despite their bad strength of schedule (112).

Oregon. In need of a strong finish to the season, the Ducks did just that. Oregon (23-8) closed the regular season with five straight wins, including a road victory over rival Oregon State on Wednesday and a big-ticket win over Utah on Feb. 22.

Cincinnati. The Bearcats (21-9) picked up a big win over Tulsa this week and have seven victories over teams in the RPI top 100. Those include a sweep of No. 22 SMU and non-conference wins over San Diego State and North Carolina State.

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FADING HOPES

North Carolina State. The Wolfpack (18-12) are probably in decent shape right now, but last weekend’s loss to Boston College could put them in jeopardy if they have a quick exit in the ACC tournament.

Pittsburgh. The Panthers (19-12) have resume-building wins over Notre Dame and North Carolina, but those may not be enough to make up for all the not-so-great losses. The Panthers lost a chance to push themselves ahead of fellow bubble team Miami and now will likely need to beat Florida State on Saturday and make a run in the ACC tournament.

Rhode Island. A win over Dayton on Tuesday would have given the Rams (20-8) a huge boost. Instead, they lost. Coupled with last week’s loss to Davidson, Rhode Island may be looking at an automatic bid as its only shot to get into the bracket.

Stanford. A loss to Arizona State on Thursday all but put the Cardinal in the position of having to win the Pac-12 tournament to have any shot at making the bracket.

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