We can now see SEC play in the very near future, so I think its good to know what exactly we are looking at coming into that 16-game grind:
Best win: Depaul
Top Scorers: Scotty Hopson (13.9), Tyler Smith (12.5), Wayne Chism (11.5)
Outlook: Have had it pretty easy so far, and could have easily beat Purdue. The schedule toughens up big-time in the coming weeks with Memphis, Charlotte, and Kansas on the slate. The two games with Kentucky should be an absolute amazing display of athleticism, and don’t be surprised if a loss comes in one of the two games.
Best win: Michigan St.
Top Scorers: Kenny Boynton (14.6), Chandler Parsons (12.0), Erving Walker (12.0)
Outlook: Probably the biggest surprise of the SEC so far has been Florida, who was unranked to begin the season, and is now a consensus Top 15 team. They have one of the few signature wins in the conference with Michigan St. They played Top-5 Syracuse very tough, and should be a team that can give the Cats a run in their two meetings. Unlike what most people would think, the Gators are using defense to win games, only giving up 60 PPG.
Best win: Saint Mary’s
Losses: Cincinnati, Illinois, Western Kentucky
Top Scorers: Jeffery Taylor (15.7), Jermaine Beal (13.2), AJ Ogilvy (12.7)
Outlook: This team is a little worriesome because they seem to play down to the competition. The loss to Western Kentucky was especially disturbing because Kevin Stallings said he team “did not show up”. For a team that has the talent to be a Top 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, it seems they have not quite hit their stride. Still a dangerous team, and Taylor is a stud.
SOUTH CAROLINA (6-2)
Best win: Western Kentucky
Losses: Miami (FL), Clemson
Top Scorers: Devan Downey (17.6), Dominique Archey (14.4), Brandis Raley-Ross (12.3)
Outlook: When your best wins are South Florida and Western Kentucky, you haven’t exactly made a strong statement this year. And the two quality opponents the Gamecocks faced they lost to. But Darrin Horn can coach and you can build a team around Downey, so look for the Gamecocks to be competitive all season. Also, USC can flat out score the ball, which means if they are hitting shots, any team in the country (UK) can go down to them.
Best win: Saint Louis
Losses: Wofford, UAB, Virgnia Tech, St. Johns
Top Scorers: Trey Thompkins (14.3), Travis Leslie (12.8), Rickie Mcphee (8.8)
Outlook: This team is not very good, and they have proven that win no wins over teams with an RPI of 150 or better. They struggle to score, and simply try and grind teams into submission. Look for 2 easy wins for the Cats in these games, and a likely 2 or 3 win conference season for the Bulldogs.
Best win: Kansas St.
Top Scorers: Chris Warren (17.8), Terrico White (16.3), Murphy Holloway (12.8)
Outlook: The Rebels have likely vaulted themselves into the favorites position of the SEC West. They only have a 12-point loss to Villanova to tarnish their record, and have wins over K-State and Indiana. The big game for the Rebels will be on December 23rd, when they travel to play West Virginia. Win that game, and the Rebels become a legit threat to UK. The Rebels are guard-heavy though, which plays well into the Cats hands, not to mention the game is in Rupp Arena this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-2)
Best win: Depaul
Losses: Rider, Richmond
Top Scorers: Ravern Johnson (14.4), Jarvis Varnado (14.0), Dee Bost (11.1)
Outlook: The Bulldogs 2 losses have been horrendous, along with the rest of their non-conference schedule. Get this: their toughest non-conference game this season according to the RPI: Western Kentucky. That’s not a good thing. Their is really no way to know how good this team is until they play at Mississippi on January 9th. Until then, all we know is the Bulldogs CAN lose to the likes of Rider and Richmond, a big disapointment for the SEC West preseason favorites.
Best win: Western Kentucky
Losses: UCONN, Arizona St.
Top Scorers: Tasmin Mitchell (16.9), Storm Warren (16.3), Bo Spencer (15.6)
Outlook: The Tigers had a chance to make a name for themselves when they went to New York, and instead they lost 2 games by a combined 45 points. They do still have Washington St., Xavier, and Utah on the schedule, so their are opportunities for the Tigers to make a little noise. This is likely a NCAA Tournament team, but they lack depth and are probably not going to be a threat to UK.
Best win: Baylor
Losses: Cornell, Florida St., Purdue
Top Scorers: Mikhail Torrance (15.4), Jamychal Green (14.6), Tony Mitchell (9.9)
Outlook: Probably the biggest unknown in the West, Alabama took an ugly home loss to Cornell. Since then they have played a fairly tough schedule, and have solid wins against Michigan and Baylor. The offense runs entirely through Torrance though, as he not only leads the team in scoring, but also assists. My feeling is that the West is wide-open, and if the chips fall right, ‘Bama could take a run at the division. It’s not likely, but Torrance has the talent to lead them there.
Best win: Virginia
Losses: Missouri St., Central Florida, NC State, Troy
Top Scorers: DeWayne Reed (15.7), Frankie Sullivan (13.9), Lucas Hargrove (13.3)
Outlook: Look, its Auburn basketball, so its just very mediocre and this year is no different. They are going to be middle-to-bottom of the SEC. They will upset one or two teams in the league during the year, but are destined to win between 4 and 7 games in the league. They do have balanced scoring, but they are not great on offense, and their losses prove they can be beat on any night. Nothing to worry about from the Tigers this season.
Best win: Appalaichain St.
Losses: Louisville, Morgan St., E. Tennessee St., South Alabama, Oklahoma
Top Scorers: Rotnei Clark (21.1), Marshawn Powell (14.9), Michael Washignton (12.9)
Outlook: An absolute dumpster fire of a team. Clark could very well be a first-team SEC player on a team that wins 1 or 2 games in conference. They just have been so depleted by suspension that even with the worst non-conference schedule in the league, they have the least amount of wins so far. Three of their four wins come against teams ranked 326 or worse in the RPI. Arkansas plays Texas on January 5th, what do you think the spread is on that game? 35 points? Anyway, Clark is so much fun to watch, and UK had been able to land him, the loss of Jodie Meeks would not have even been noticed on this years team.