This is a draft of this week's power poll ballot. Let me know if you have any bones to pick with these selections, or if you have any other thoughts you'd like to share.
Clearly the best team in the conference, the 'Cats would be undefeated right now if not for a loss at Indiana in which IU had magic on its side. This is an elite team that will compete for another Final Four berth.
Despite their recent losses to Tennessee and Rutgers, I still feel this is the second-best team in the conference. They've proven themselves good enough to beat excellent teams and to play elite teams like Ohio St. and Syracuse to the buzzer. They need to improve their road play, though.
The Western Division Dawgs lost at Arkansas, but they still have a very nice resume and are a very talented team. Of course, the question with this group is often whether they'll really live up to their potential, as drama always seems to be about to explode with Stansbury's program. Certainly a team to watch over the course of the season.
Coming into the season, Vandy was projected as a national title contender, but it lost a few games to subpar competition and shed its luster. Now, though, the 'Dores seem to be playing closer to expectations. Can they keep it up?
'Bama has gotten a bit of hype here and there, but this seems like a bit of a paper tiger to me. The Tide are certainly headed in the right direction under Anthony Grant, but they need more big wins to convince me they're going to be a threat in March.
6. LSU Tigers
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the SEC so far, LSU opened the season as expected, losing to Coastal Carolina, Northwestern, and South Alabama early on. Since then, they've caught fire, winning some big games, their only loss coming in a tight game against a very good Virginia team. They opened SEC play by trouncing Ole Miss. Should be an interesting team to watch this year.
Another team that may be knocking on the door for a rise through the standings, Arkansas struggled a bit early on, but the team now seems to be hitting its stride under first-year coach Mike Anderson. The talent might not be there for a deep March run this year, but I expect this to be among the SEC elite teams in coming years.
Tennessee has limped to a fairly lackluster record so far, but the record tells only part of the story. The Vols have played a very tough schedule so far, so losses were to be expected; this team is better than its record. That said, it's also not a Pearl-esque Tennessee team, and it likely won't be good enough to compete week-in and week-out in the SEC. The depth isn't there. But I do expect UT to win some games.
The Gamecocks have improved since Bruce Ellington rejoined the club. The question is whether or not they've improved enough to break even in the SEC and earn an NIT berth. My guess right now is that they haven't, but the opportunity is there.
10. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia has played a few teams tough this year, but this season is shaping up to be Mark Fox's worst in Athens. This team lacks the forward play to compete against better teams.
Ole Miss started fairly strongly, but they've imploded since then and are coming off a complete trouncing by LSU. Expect Kennedy to be gone at year's end.
12. Auburn Tigers
Don't let the record fool you. Auburn feasted on cupcakes early on. The trouncings they suffered against FSU and Vandy are what you can expect to see when they play real teams.