Welcome to the first edition of this year’s SEC Basketball Power Rankings.
We are almost through the cupcake stage of the year, with a few challenges thrown in there, and I think it’s time to see how the SEC is playing out.
Considering conference games haven’t started yet and many teams have yet to face a real test, I’m going to divide all the teams into four categories: contenders, tournament hopefuls, meh, and bad with hope.
The teams ranked in each section will simply be in alphabetical order.
Auburn: They are undefeated, they are ranked, but they haven’t been properly battle-tested yet. Despite that, Auburn has a decent amount of young pieces to work with in the post Harper/Brown age and will probably be up there competing with the best. I wouldn’t formulate any repeat Final Four opinions for this team, though.
Kentucky: Who beats Michigan State and then loses to Evansville two games later? Apparently Kentucky. After securing some easy wins, it seems as though they have avoided disaster and are back on track to have a successful season after all.
Tennessee: This team won’t be the same after the subtractions of Grant Williams and The Admiral, but they have been holding their own. Senior guards Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowen have been carrying the load quite well, and with only one loss on their resumé thus far, the Vols could make some moves and surpass the lukewarm expectations set for them at the beginning of the year.
Arkansas: With only one L to their name, Arkansas is looking pretty good. Isaiah Joe, Jimmy Whitt Jr. and Mason Jones are their dudes, and they have been having stellar seasons respectively. Look for them to stay at least in the tournament conversation (although that loss to Western Kentucky has gotta hurt).
Florida: So much for that preseason hype. They have a good win against Xavier, but they also have some less than ideal losses. Florida will undoubtedly be in the tournament come March, but it’s also fair to say they have failed to meet the high expectations they were given (so far).
Georgia: Hey, that Anthony Edwards guy is good. The rest of the team? Let’s wait and see. When it comes to the tournament, teams typically need that one guy to take over in crunch time (like Ja Morant with Murray State) and that will usually be good enough to get them one win. With a player this special, though, Georgia will continue being a team to watch.
LSU: You can’t win everything. LSU is obviously wreaking havoc on the college football world, but the basketball world, not so much. They are kind of doing as expected: crushing the bad teams and losing close ones to the good teams. They have a solid core, but I’ll wait and see with this team.
Alabama: You can’t be 4-4 in the easy part of the schedule. The program is trending up and they could improve when they get to conference play, but things aren’t looking the best at the moment (but if you beat Stephen F. Austin does that mean you beat Duke?).
Mississippi State: They put up a good fight versus Villanova, but that loss to LA Tech kind of scares me. That and the fact they are keeping bad teams close when they play. Reggie Perry and Tyson Carter are definite silver linings, though.
Missouri: That loss to Charleston Southern doesn’t look too good, but they also competed with some respectable teams like Xavier and Butler. Won’t sell my stocks just yet.
Ole Miss: Their record looks good and they got a real attractive win versus Memphis. Well, they also got completely embarrassed by Oklahoma State. They should be a team on the rise but wow, inconsistency is a glaring issue with this squad.
Vanderbilt: Jerry Stackhouse has turned the laughing stock of the SEC into a team that is actually winning some games. Don’t get me wrong, they still aren’t going to run any conference, but it’s just a nice story to see.
Bad with Hope
South Carolina: They lost to Boston University, a team they had no business losing to, and have gotten blown out by mediocre opponents. Many of South Carolina’s wins have also been close against teams that shouldn’t be giving them that kind of fight. Maybe they will flip a switch when conference play comes around like last year, but I wouldn’t be too sure.
Texas A&M: To start, they are 3-5 in non-conference play. To make things worse, they lost to a 2-6 Fairfield team. They may still have life in this young season, but wow things look bad in Texas.