Last night, the first 2 SEC games took place, but we still have time to reminisce about the non-conference season and which SEC teams flopped and excelled. Yesterday, I put Tennessee 6th in the conference, but then they went and smashed my #5 team LSU on their home floor. Nothing can be done about it now. But as I point out, I think the conference still might just be a 4-team race. Below are the rankings from the last few days and the final 5 SEC teams, including UK:
#14. Georgia (6-6, RPI: 257)
#13. South Carolina (7-6, RPI: 95)
#12. Mississippi State (10-3, RPI: 183)
#11. Auburn (8-3, RPI: 161)
#10. Texas A&M (9-4, RPI: 177)
#9 Alabama (6-7, RPI: 119)
#8 Vanderbilt (8-4, RPI: 94)
#7 Ole Miss (9-4, RPI: 79)
#6 Tennessee (10-4, RPI: 54)
#5 LSU (9-4, RPI: 53)
Wins: Northwestern St, New Orleans, SE Louisiana, St. Joe’s, Butler, LA-Monroe, Texas Tech, UAB, McNeese St
Losses: UMASS, Memphis, Rhode Island, Tennessee
-To me, there is a clear gap between the Top 4 teams in the SEC and the rest of the league. LSU is where that break occurs. They have had a solid non-conference season at best. Decent wins over Butler and UAB and none of their losses are bad, although losing to Rhode Island at home does raise an eyebrow slightly. And then last night happened and they got spanked at home by Tennessee. Obviously, UT belongs in this spot but since I had them #6 yesterday, no going back now. LSU still had the 5th best non-conference season.
#4 Arkansas (11-2, RPI: 83)
Wins: SIU-Edwardsville, LA-Lafayette, SMU, Minnesota, SE Louisiana, Clemson, Savannah St, UT-Martin, South Alabama, High Point, UTSA
Losses: California, Gonzaga
-This team is very, very good on the offensive end of the floor. I think this could be the year that Arkansas becomes a consistent threat in the SEC under Mike Anderson. They have begun to run that system very well. Currently 7th in the country and shooting nearly 50% for the year. Home games against Florida and UK in the next week will tell us what we need to know.
#3 Missouri (12-1, RPI: 29)
Wins: SE Louisiana, S.Illinois, Hawaii, Gardner-Webb, IUPUI, Northwestern, Nevada, West Virginia, UCLA, W.Michigan, NC State, Long Beach St
-A 1-point loss to Illinois is all that keeps the Tigers from being undefeated. They are getting amazing guard play, probably the best in the conference. They’ve played a very good schedule and nearly ran the table. I was tempted to put them above Kentucky, but there is still something about Frank Haith that scares me. Likely his coaching ability. Plus, looking at their results, they rarely blow out anybody, including their worst opponents.
#2 Kentucky (10-3, RPI: 19)
-The Louisville win hopefully will vault this team into an SEC favorite, but when looking at the overall non-conference slate, Florida still has the better resume. Cats play has been spectacular in spots and pedestrian in others. But their guard play appears to be improving and barring injury, they have more than enough talent to compete for the conference title and more.
#1 Florida (11-2, RPI: 16)
Wins: North Florida, Arkansas-LR, Southern, MTSU, Jacksonville, Florida St, Kansas, Memphis, Fresno St, Savannah St, Richmond
Losses: Wisconsin, UCONN
-With a full roster, Florida has the potential to compete for a national title. They dominated Kansas and lost on a buzzer beater to UCONN and by 6 to 4th ranked Wisconsin. Now, the negative. They actually have struggled at times on the offensive end of the floor. Ranking just 200th in scoring in the country. But they defend the hell out of you and usually defense carries on throughout the season, so as of right now, they are the favorite to win the SEC. Play at Arkansas on Saturday. Will be great test.