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SEC Hoops Power Rankings... My Version, Pt 4

Each week, our own HHKB Chris has done a great job of setting up and compiling the SEC Basketball Power Rankings. Each week, I participate with my own take. I thought it would be a good idea to show you my ballot each week so you can see what I'm thinking when I submit my picks. I have yet to look at the previous week's rankings when considering where to slot the teams, instead I look at the record to date, wins, losses, KenPom, RPI and BPI.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

A couple thoughts first...

Wednesday night I sat and watched LSU vs Ole Miss and Georgia vs Vanderbilt back to back. Sure there were better games on, like the hotly contested game between UNC and NC State, but I stuck with the SEC because I wanted to see teams that Mizzou would be playing, and the more I watch teams the more I understand their personality.

One of the things about the SEC and the "depth" that the conference has is that there are a lot of teams that have the potential to play with anyone. It was evidenced by the fact that Ole Miss and Texas A&M played well enough (and Kentucky played bad enough) for those games to require overtime. Of all the teams, outside of Missouri, I've seen Kentucky play the most (they are easy to find most of the time). After that, I've seen just about every SEC team play at least one full game. I'll admit to bailing on Mississippi State multiple times, but I think I've got a good idea on what these teams ceilings and floors are.

As I watched the same LSU team that Missouri beat, make shot after shot at Ole Miss, and watched Ole Miss shoot 5-23 from 3, at home. Then I watched as LSU gave Ole Miss every opportunity to win the game, ultimately finding a way to make just enough free throws to win, I came to a bit of a realization. Realization is the wrong word, I solidified my understanding of the challenges that the SEC faces each year. There are just enough bad teams, that are just talented enough, to screw up a few teams seasons each year. This year the perfect example is Ole Miss. They nearly beat Kentucky, and there will be a few teams thinking about the NCAA tournament that roll into the Tad-Pad and just get punished. Look no further than what happened to South Carolina, a team that had the second best non-conference experience in the league. They're a legitimate NCAA tournament contender and they lost by 15 at Ole Miss.

Such is life in the SEC. Teams with enough talent to beat you on a given night, but not enough sense to use that talent to win more games and make the league look good. Ole Miss will lose to Charleston Southern at home, Western Kentucky at home, but will beat anyone who NEEDS a win in SEC play. Then watch them go to Starkville and lose by 18. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, on the rankings...

Listed is the rank, team and record, with their KenPom ranking and rating, their RPI ranking and score, and their BPI rank and score. Followed by me being quippy.

1. Kentucky 16-0 (3-0)
Rank 2 2 1
Score .9780 .7183 95.0

The teams that play Kentucky see their RPI & BPI get an immediate bump just by playing them, but leave it to Missouri to lose by 50 and force Kentucky to drop to #2 in KenPom & RPI.

2. Arkansas 13-3 (2-1)
Rank 28 18 27
Score .8562 .6226 80.9

Not a great loss at UT, but Arky hasn't won there since '06. Two home games against Ole Miss and Alabama will provide a chance for some separation.

3. Florida 9-6 (2-0)
Rank 23 71 28
Score .8822 .5633 80.3

As per usual, despite a slow start, Florida will probably end up 2nd in the league by the end. :/

4. Alabama 12-4 (2-1)
Rank 36 41 52
Score .8371 .5994 74.5

Two sounds wins and a close loss at South Carolina, Alabama might not be messing around this year. We'll see what they have soon enough for Kentucky.

5. LSU 13-3 (2-1)
Rank 52 36 44
Score .7825 .6036 76.1

Followed up their opening loss to Missouri by beating Georgia at home in Overtime, and stealing a win at Ole Miss, a game which was ugly to watch in the last minute as neither team seemed interested in winning the game... a strange approach to be sure.

6. Georgia 10-5 (1-2)
Rank 34 25 25
Score .8489 .6167 80.7

They really should have won the game at LSU, and nearly found a way to lose at Vandy when they controlled the game for so long. I won't be surprised if they finish in the top 4 in the league, and all the rankings love them.

7. South Carolina 10-5 (1-2)
Rank 38 84 42
Score .8362 .5556 76.3

I'd feel better about them this year if they had shown up at Ole Miss. They needed that game vs. Bama more than anything yet this year, but enough sluggishness on the road leads me to drop them.

8. Vanderbilt 11-5 (1-2)
Rank 56 83 43
Score .7790 .5557 76.3

Vandy is a bit of a team to watch, as they basically played nobody in non-conference, and are now 1-2 after losing at home to Georgia. But both losses were close. I can see this team finishing with 10-11 wins or with 5.

9. Ole Miss 10-6 (1-2)
Rank 47 56 53
Score .8078 .5795 74.2

A bit buoyed by their close loss to Kentucky and win over South Carolina, they blew a chance at home over LSU.

10. Tennessee 10-5 (2-1)
Rank 95 54 76
Score .6872 .5830 69.1

A nice win over Arky keeps the Vols over .500. I get the feeling they're going to find themselves a lot closer to .500 at the end than we all think.

11. Texas A&M 10-5 (1-2)
Rank 86 57 62
Score .7097 .5771 72.2

Squeaked out a win over Miss State by shooting 44 free throws. 44! I'm glad I didn't watch that game.

12. Auburn 9-6 (1-1)
Rank 132 90 139
Score .5761 .5520 57.4

I fully expect Auburn to be 1-2 when this goes live. I'm not convinced they're better than Missouri despite them winning that game. They seemed more interested in talking trash and not letting K.T. Harrell shoot enough shots.

13. Mizzou 7-9 (1-2)
Rank 152 136 155
Score .5269 .5218 54.5

On the positive side, I'm pretty sure that Kentucky could do that to about half of the teams in the SEC. A chance to get back in the Win column vs. UT at home.

14. Mississippi State 7-9 (0-3)
Rank 233 227 182
Score .3583 .4656 50.0

Its safe to say that Craig Sword has been a disappointment and likely due to his preseason back injury. They allowed A&M to shoot 44 free throws in one game. Ugh, I bet that was fun to watch.

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KenPom, because it's awesome and the best:

I try to measure skills based on the opportunities for those skills to be observed. On the team level, this often means ratings the offense (and defense) on points scored (and allowed) per possession. That is the basis for the ratings system. If you're looking for info on what the columns mean on the ratings mean, please continue. If you don't like the ratings, wonder why I have your team too low, or wonder why the ratings don't look like the AP top 25, go here. (For information on preseason ratings, see this and this and this.)

RPI, the NCAA selection committee uses this:

The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) is a measure of strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. Created in 1981, the RPI is a tool used in selecting and seeding the 68 teams for the NCAA Men's basketball Division I tournament. RPI data includes games against Division I schools only.

BPI, Joe Lunardi uses this:

The Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a team rating system that accounts for the final score, pace of play, site, strength of opponent and absence of key players in every Division I men's game. BPI can be used to measure both how well a team has performed (going far beyond just wins and losses) and how powerful it is likely to be going forward.