If the rumors hold any weight that the SEC is attempting to woo the likes of Duke and North Carolina, throw me head first into the pool of people who would welcome both with open arms. I hate Duke, and my hate grows more and more with each Plumlee. I hate North Carolina, and my hate grows deeper with each article written and then ignored about the academic scandals. It’s a healthy hate, if there is such a thing– based mostly upon the desire for Kentucky to be better than both of these schools. Hatred aside, I love great college basketball games. I’ll watch Kentucky play anyone, including Canadian teams on television stations with mediocre production value. But I, like many fans I’m sure, clamor for the juicy match-ups against the top level teams. For that reason, the SEC as a whole has become less and less exciting in terms of creating exciting games with each passing year.
Perhaps the decline of some of the teams who used to compete year in and year out for the top spots in SEC basketball is the universe’s way of balancing things, considering 6 of the current top 10 teams in college football hail from the SEC. Maybe we just can’t have it all, but I long for the days when the SEC was filling up the Selection Sunday brackets with a slew of teams.
Florida, Kentucky and Missouri are the only SEC teams currently ranked in the top 25 of the men’s college basketball polls. College basketball as a whole is considered to be “down” this year, and the SEC still only claims 3 spots. This isn’t about being in a pissing contest with the Big East or any other conference for that matter either. I don’t care how many they have and how we stack up. I just want to know that at least 6 of 7 of Kentucky’s SEC opponents will be really enticing games year in and year out. When SEC men’s basketball is down, to borrow part of a phrase from Chief Keef, “That’s the SEC I don’t like.”
The only thing more frustrating than the fact that 50% of the time my phone autocorrects “SEC” to “sex” is some of the early season results in the non-conference schedule so far for the SEC schools. Just take a moment to internalize some of these results:
Georgia lost to Youngstown State, 68-56
Mississippi State lost to Troy, 56-53
Mississippi State lost to North Carolina, 95-49
Mississippi State lost to Marquette, 89-62
Mississippi State lost to Texas, 69-55
Auburn lost to Murray State, 79-59
Auburn lost to Dayton, 73-63
Auburn lost to Boston College, 50-49
Auburn lost to Rhode Island, 78-72
Vanderbilt lost to Oregon, 74-48
Vanderbilt lost to Davidson, 75-62
Vanderbilt lost to Marist, 50-33
Arkansas lost to Arizona State, 83-68
Texas A&M lost to Saint Louis, 70-49
Missouri lost to Louisville, 84-61
South Carolina lost to Elon, 65-53
Though it was an exhibition game, South Carolina needed a down to the wire effort to slip past Kentucky Wesleyan, 68-67
Key: *Embarrassing enough that it’s worth pointing out, again
You might be saying to yourself, some of these losses were against good/respectable teams though, such as Louisville, Saint Louis, Murray State, North Carolina… but look at the scores of those games. The games were not competitive. The games were essentially blow outs.
Maybe it’s still a little too early to tell on some of these SEC teams. Just as it’s hard to know how good some of the still-undefeated teams like Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU are, due to the fact that their non-conference schedules read like a CBI tournament list of invites– maybe a few of these SEC teams are going to hit their stride come conference play. Either way, my expectations aren’t very high for extremely exciting SEC match-ups outside of the Florida and Missouri games for Kentucky. I am by no means saying that a host of other teams will not be able to potentially knock off this young Kentucky team. But the excitement level for the games just isn’t quite where it used to be.
Like I said, maybe it’s too early to make that call. Here are a few SEC basketball-related things you can count on though: I will accidentally text “sex” to my Dad at least 3 times this season when trying to type “SEC”, Johnny Football will be brought up at least once in each and every television broadcast of a Texas A&M basketball game, IF Johnny Football happens to be in the crowd at said Texas A&M basketball game– he will be given the Seth/Steph Curry’s Mom treatment, Alabama WILL find themselves on the bubble on Selection Sunday (that is as sure a bet as death and taxes), at least 10 people you are friends with on Facebook or follow on Twitter who are Kentucky fans will say “SEC” on the night of the national championship if Alabama/Georgia wins and the Vandy/Mississippi State game will showcase awful basketball