Andy Katz has released his SEC power rankings for the week and once again, the Wildcats remain on top. This is what he had to say about the Blue and White:
The Wildcats didn’t have to deal with tough competition this past week, but they didn’t take a step back. We’ll learn more about UK after Saturday’s showdown with in-state rival Louisville. So far the Cats have passed every test, save the final seconds at Bloomington.
The rest of the list went as follows:
3 Mississippi State
8 Ole Miss
11 South Carolina
After Alabama at the six spot, the list devolves into total irrelevance with spots seven through eleven being nearly interchangeable, but the top of the pack should give pause to any opponent come March. The most pleasant surprise has been the play of LSU. After early season losses to Coastal Carolina, South Alabama and my Northwestern Wildcats, Trent Johnson seemingly righted the ship with a huge win over Marquette. If the Tigers can handle #24 Virginia right before the start of SEC play, they would give themselves a huge leg up come Selection Sunday.
Vanderbilt and Alabama are both talented teams without any strong out of conference wins. The Commodores and Tide will need to perform very well in SEC play if the SEC has any hopes of fielding six teams in the Big Dance. While I expect Vanderbilt to squeak into the tournament and lose their usual game to a lower ranked foe, the bubble is all too familiar territory for Anthony Grant. The Tide will host both Florida and Vanderbilt in addition to their home and away with Mississippi State so there will be opportunities for marquee wins in conference play, but they’ll have to impress the selection committee if they want to avoid last season’s letdown.
Tennessee is dead last and rightfully so, but in their six defeats, the average score differential is a little under six points and that includes losses to Duke, Pitt and Memphis (in double overtime). Their poor ranking is well earned, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tennessee score an upset or two in conference play. I don’t think they could beat UK, but Kevin Stallings needs to watch his back.
For all the excitement coming into this season, creeping toward conference play it seems that only three SEC teams are locks for the postseason. Kentucky, Florida and Mississippi State have performed well in the first half of the season and already have strong resumes heading into their Southeastern Conference slates. The rest of the league will be playing catch up in 2012.