The SEC basketball season is rolling along as most of the teams get ready to play their sixth league game Tuesday night. But before they do, we’re ranking all 13 teams behind Kentucky to see who is a contender, pretender or complete trash (Missouri and LSU).
So grab a Dr. Pepper and a bag of Golden Flakes and catch SEC Basketball Fever with our very first edition of SEC power rankings.
1. Kentucky (15-2, 5-0)
Wins: Stephen F. Austin, Canisius, Michigan State, Duquesne, Cleveland State, UT Martin, Arizona State, Valparaiso, Hofstra, North Carolina, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Arkansas, at Vanderbilt, Auburn
Losses: UCLA, at Louisville
New year, same Kentucky dominance across the SEC. This No. 1 ranking is unlikely to change this season.
2. Florida (14-3, 5-0)
Wins: Florida Gulf Coast, Mercer, St. Bonaventure, Belmont, Seton Hall, Miami, at North Florida, Charlotte, Little Rock, at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, at Alabama, Georgia
Losses: Gonzaga, Duke, at Florida State
Returning to its rightful throne as the SEC’s second best team after an eighth-place finish a year ago, Florida is Kentucky’s biggest threat in the conference in 2017. The Gators appear to be back in Year 2 under Mike White with a perfect in-conference record through five games, while its three losses in the non-conference slate came against three top-10 teams in No. 5 Gonzaga, No. 7 Duke and No. 9 Florida State.
3. South Carolina (14-3, 4-0)
Wins: Louisiana Tech, Holy Cross, Monmouth, South Carolina State, Michigan, Syracuse, Vermont, Florida International, at South Florida, Lander, at Georgia, Texas A&M, at Tennessee, Ole Miss
Losses: Seton Hall, Clemson, at Memphis
Frank Martin has his South Carolina squad off to another great start in 2016-17. The Gamecocks are 7-2 against top-50 teams and won their first four SEC games by an average of 10 points. Carolina is a tournament team and a tough matchup for everyone in the conference.
4. Georgia (11-6, 3-2)
Wins: UNC Asheville, Furman, George Washington, Gardner-Webb, Morehouse, UL Lafayette, Charleston Southern, at Georgia Tech, Auburn, Missouri, at Ole Miss
Losses: at Clemson, Kansas, Marquette, at Oakland, South Carolina, at Florida
Georgia comes in at No. 4, which is also where it was picked to finish in the media’s preseason poll. The Bulldogs are lead by Yante Maten, my pick for the league’s best non-Kentucky player. Maten is second in the conference in scoring and third in rebounding. He is tough.
5. Arkansas (13-4, 2-3)
Wins: Fort Wayne, Southern Illinois, UT-Arlington, Mount St. Mary’s, Stephen F. Austin, Austin Peay, Houston, North Florida, Texas, North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, at Tennessee, Missouri
Losses: at Minnesota, Florida, at Kentucky, Mississippi State
Justin Moore’s beloved Razorbacks were off to a blazing start until running into Kentucky and Florida in SEC play. They’ve now dropped three league games and they are slipping down the power rankings despite being the conference’s second best scoring team at 82.2 points per game. Losing at home to Mississippi State was not a good look.
6. Tennessee (9-8, 2-3)
Wins: Appalachian State, at Chaminade, Georgia Tech, Presbyterian, Tennessee Tech, Lipscomb, at East Tennessee State, at Texas A&M, at Vanderbilt
Losses: Chattanooga, Wisconsin, Oregon, at North Carolina, Gonzaga, Arkansas, at Florida, South Carolina
Tennessee has been somewhat of an overachiever thus far after being picked 13th in the preseason poll. The Vols took North Carolina down the wire in Chapel Hill, played Oregon to overtime, and picked up two nice road wins in the early conference play.
7. Alabama (10-6, 3-1)
Wins: Coastal Carolina, Ball State, Saint Louis, Charleston Southern, South Carolina Upstate, Arkansas State, Stetson, at Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, at LSU
Losses: Dayton, Valparaiso, at Texas, at Oregon, Clemson, Florida
Alabama plays one ugly style of basketball that limits scoring by both teams. The Crimson Tide currently ranks 277th in the nation with only 68.6 points per game, while allowing only 62.6 from its opponents. Some of you may fall asleep just thinking about watching an Alabama game.
8. Ole Miss (10-7, 1-4)
Wins: UT Martin, UMass, Oral Roberts, Saint Joseph’s, Montana, Memphis, Murray State, Bradley, South Alabama, at Auburn
Losses: Creighton, Middle Tennessee, at Virginia Tech, Kentucky, at Florida, Georgia, at South Carolina
Ole Miss has seven losses, all to top-50 teams, and the Rebels’ schedule is the eighth toughest in college basketball. Yeah, that 1-4 conference record is ugly, but you have to consider the fact Ole Miss played the four best teams right out of the gate. Let’s hold off on passing too much judgment on this team until we see how they play the middle-of-the-road teams and bottom-dwellers of the SEC.
9. Vanderbilt (8-9, 2-3)
Wins: Belmont, Norfolk State, Santa Clara, Tennessee State, High Point, Chattanooga, at LSU, Auburn
Losses: Marquette, Bucknell, Butler, Minnesota, at Middle Tennessee, at Dayton, at Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee
Bryce Drew’s first year is off to a mediocre start with the Commodores hovering around .500 overall and in conference. With only three wins against top-100 RPI teams, Vandy has some winning to do. Playing Kentucky close isn’t enough.
10. Mississippi State (12-4, 3-1)
Wins: Norfolk State, Boise State, UTEP, Northwestern State, Oregon State, Georgia State, Southern Miss, Morehead State, UMKC, at LSU, at Arkansas, Texas A&M
Losses: UCF, Lehigh, East Tennessee State, Alabama
Mississippi State is off to its best start since opening the 2011-12 season 13-3, in part because it has the worst strength of schedule in the entire conference. A win at Arkansas helps the resume, but outside of that, Ben Howland’s Bulldogs haven’t shown us anything other than that they can beat teams in the bottom half of the RPI.
11. Texas A&M (9-7, 1-4)
Wins: Northwestern State, American, CSU Northridge, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M-CC, Denver, South Carolina State, St. Francis, LSU
Losses: USC, UCLA, Arizona, Tennessee, at Kentucky, at South Carolina, at Mississippi State
Last year’s SEC co-champion and tournament runner-up has been the conference’s biggest disappointment in 2016-17. Picked third in the preseason by the media, A&M has lost four of its first five SEC games, including a 42-point drumming at Kentucky and double-digit losses to Tennessee and South Carolina, and has a 1-6 record against top-100 RPI teams. It’s safe to say we all were a little off with our expectations of the Aggies because they’re garbage.
12. Auburn (11-6, 1-4)
Wins: North Florida, Georgia State, Eastern Kentucky, Texas Tech, South Carolina Upstate, UAB, Coastal Carolina, Mercer, Oklahoma, UConn, at Missouri
Losses: Purdue, Boston College, Georgia, at Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, at Kentucky
Bruce Pearl’s third Auburn team already matched its win total of a year ago, but the Tigers still have a ways to go to become an SEC contender. There is some optimism on the roster as Pearl has built a good foundation for the future with two five-star freshmen in Austin Wiley and Mustapha Heron along with redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy, who was the No. 12 small forward in the 2015 class. Auburn will return seven of its top eight players next season, but in the meantime, Auburn is still Auburn.
13. LSU (9-7, 1-4)
Wins: Wofford, Southern Miss, North Florida, Old Dominion, Houston, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, Charlestown, at Missouri
Losses: Wichita State, VCU, at Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Mississippi Sate, at Texas A&M, Alabama
Fresh off a comical 14-loss season with the No. 1 NBA draft pick — a strong candidate for Worst Coaching Job Ever — LSU is back to its losing ways in 2016-17. Antonio Blakeney is having a good sophomore season, though; the former UK and Katina Powell target averages 17 points and five assists per game. Outside of his play, it’s a Christmas miracle Johnny Jones still has a job.
14. Missouri (5-11, 0-4)
Wins: Alabama A&M, Tulane, Northwestern State, Western Kentucky, Miami (OH)
Losses: Xavier, Davidson, North Carolina Central, Arizona, Eastern Illinois, Illinois, Lipscomb, LSU, at Georgia, Auburn, at Arkansas
After starting the season with a 55-point win and a one-point overtime loss to then-No. 11 Xavier, Missouri has lost eight consecutive games going all the way back to early December. The Tigers are on course for a third straight last place finish in the conference and may struggle to match their SEC win total of three games in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. To put it shortly, Missouri flat out sucks at the game of basketball.