SEC Hoops Power Poll Ballot: January 3-9

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1. Kentucky Wildcats

Not much to say here. The 'Cats are clearly the cream of the SEC, with an undefeated record against one of the toughest OOC schedules in the country. Barring an improbable Cinderella run by one of the other teams, Kentucky is the conference's only viable national title contender.

2. Ole Miss Rebels

The Rebels have lived up to their billing as the team that will be the conference's dark horse contender come March. Their only losses came to Final Four-quality teams Villanova and West Virginia. However, their list of quality OOC wins--Kansas State--is fairly sparse for a team ranked as highly as they are.

3. Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols have been very good so far, but the question now is how well they can play without Tyler Smith in the lineup. I don't expect them to finish this high, but I'd like to see what Bruce Pearl comes up with in Smith's absence before I drop them.

4. Florida Gators

The Gators have to be one of the conference's most perplexing teams. After beating Michigan State, it looked like the old Noah-Brewer-Horford Gators were back in business. Lately, though, the Gators have struggled, losing games to Richmond, South Alabama, and winning a close one against N. C. State. Hard to know what to make of this team, but when they're playing well, they're one of the few teams with enough talent to beat Kentucky.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide have to be one of the conference's biggest surprises. Since the opening loss to Cornell, Anthony Grant has gotten his team playing quite well, with wins over Baylor and Michigan and all losses coming to good teams. The Tide could make some noise in a Western Division that is very sparse.

6. Vanderbilt Commodores

The Commodores have a nice record, but they've failed to beat anyone of note outside of Missouri. Vandy has looked promising at times, but they've struggled to get A. J. Ogilvy the minutes they would like and have suffered when he hasn't been in the lineup.

7. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

Like the 'Dores, the Western Bulldogs have a great record but don't have many quality wins. Outside of South Carolina, they have to be the conference's biggest dissappointment, and unlike the Gamecocks, they can't claim injuries as an excuse.

8. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have one of the thinnest rosters in the conference, but new coach Mark Fox is proving Damon Evans right by making the most of what he has. Their victory over Georgia Tech was impressive and a testament to Fox's coaching prowess.

9. South Carolina Gamecocks

A once promising season in Columbia has been derailed for the time being by the loss of starters Dominique Archie and Mike Holmes. Since losing these two players, the Gamecocks only wins of note have come against Western Kentucky and Richmond. Still, the Gamecocks could challenge for some upsets if they can figure out a way to win playing small ball.

10. LSU Tigers

The Tigers are clearly not the team they were last year, with several embarrassing losses to average teams and few wins to hang their hats on.

11. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Hogs have played what has been perhaps the conference's toughest OOC schedule. Unfortunately, all that's gotten them is a terrible record. Having Courtney Fortson back should help.

12. Auburn Tigers

This was supposed to be a strong year for Auburn. Right now, though, it's looking like it might be Jeff Lebo's last, as the Tigers have lost ugly to a number of poor teams.

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