A few years ago, the SEC on the whole (even Arkansas) made a conscious effort to begin scheduling tougher opponents that come March would look good on their resumes, whether you value those opponents by RPI, KenPom or the mythic "eye test" to the selection committee. Well step 1, mission accomplished, I can't recall a year where the SEC faced a tougher slate of games from October through December (South Carolina, not included), and it has led to some great basketball. However, the past two weeks have shown that step 2, winning those games, remains problematic. This past week, no SEC team took a major step in terms of on the court production, and in games that meant something, did not fare so well.
All this leads to the big question of what this week will mean come March. Hopefully better results are coming for the SEC as pre exam games really turn up the heat.
But for now, let's see how the teams shook out in week 5...
Well Tier 1 continues to do what it does, to take the parlance of former Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel. All three of our top teams in this week's ranking have suffered losses of late with only Kentucky getting a home win over Eastern Kentucky since their loss to UCLA.
Vanderbilt has suffered two consecutive defeats on the road against Baylor and at home to Dayton, both two very good teams to be sure, but if you're going to be a top 25 team, you've got to win these games if you expect a top 5 seed in March.
Texas A&M after falling to Syracuse over the Thanksgiving holiday, took a loss to Arizona State, who's not bad and seems to be finding their footing in Bobby Hurley's first year as head coach. Like Vanderbilt, these losses in and of themselves aren't necessarily bad, but they are not helping the perception the rest of the country has of the SEC as a basketball conference.
Remaining in Tier 2 for the second week in a row are Florida and South Carolina. South Carolina remains the lone undefeated team in the SEC, though to date they haven't played a team of any consequence, hence their standing in our rankings. Looking at their schedule, the chance for a signature win or a slip up seems highly unlikely. If this team is going to be taken seriously, it's going to have to be during conference season. And come March their nonconference schedule, wins and all won't do them any favors.
Florida for its part, took on instate rival and top 20 team Miami, but was unable to get a victory in a game that appeared closer than it truly was. Florida, though does get a shot to take on the number 1 team in the country this weekend, in East Lansing. Have a good showing against Michigan State, and they could push their way into the top tier.
Tier 3 continues to be the middle of the conference, inhabited by teams that cannot seem to distinguish themselves from one another, and all seem flawed at this point in the season.
LSU and Georgia continue to not live up to our voters preseason expectations, though they did do the bare minimum of beating two lesser opponents on their schedule this past week.
Auburn seems to be on quite the break having not played a game since December 2nd remaining here in Tier 3 simply out of the fact that they really can't move down because they're not playing.
Auburn's best friend Alabama also stays in Tier 3 after beating Southern Miss this past week, and taking two wins in the previous week over a top 20 (at the time) Notre Dame and a broken and beaten Wichita State team that is going to have to do a lot of work to sniff the NCAAs this year.
Finally, Ole Miss is taking care of business having won three games in a row, but against lesser competition that won't do much for our voters. Looking at their schedule it doesn't appear that the Rebs will be tested until their first game of the conference season against Kentucky.
Ah Tier 4, the bottom of the barrel, almost. Here we've got Tennessee, Mississippi State and Arkansas.
Tennessee hasn't played since the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but have a date with Butler tomorrow, which probably won't go well.
Mississippi State has won three in a row but none in convincing fashion, but they do get a game against Florida State Wednesday night, which should give them a chance for a power 5 conference win.
Then at the bottom of Tier 4 you've got the Hogs of Arkansas. Arkansas actually had a nice home victory over a tough Evansville team, but before that lost a close game on the road to Wake Forest, that may look better in March than it currently does.
Mizzou continues to inhabit the bottom of our Power Rankings barrel. The western most Tigers of the SEC have won three games in a row over lesser competition, so this ranking is understandable, but the schedule toughens as they take on Arizona, NC State and Illinois over the next two weeks.
To the Rankings!
|Team||Points||Ranking||Ranking Last Week||Change||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|Florida||54||4th (Tied)||4th (Tied)||None||2nd||7th|
|South Carolina||54||4th (Tied)||4th (Tied)||None||2nd||7th|
|Auburn||34||7th||6th (Tied)||Down 1||6th||9th|
|Ole Miss||29||10th||8th||Down 2||6th||10th|
|Mississippi State||16||12th||13th||Up 1||10th||14th|
Points were distributed 1st = 14, 2nd = 13, 3rd = 12, 4th = 11, 5th = 10, 6th = 9, 7th = 8, 8th = 7, 9th = 6, 10th = 5, 11th = 4, 12th = 3, 13th = 2, and 14th = 1
Wins over Wichita St and Notre Dame have them as the surprise team of the conference so far. (Dawg Sports)
The SEC's mediocre madness team: they beat Notre Dame and then struggle to beat an awful Southern Miss team. (Anchor of Gold)
Alabama followed up two great wins with an ugly one against Southern Miss but improvement is improvement. (College and Magnolia)
Evansville, that's actually a nice win, sure, it won't please anyone in Fayettville, but it could be worse they could have won by more and then Jimmy Sexton would have turned his attention from getting football coaches big checks. (Rock M Nation)
I just shouldn't be allowed to like a team in the preseason. Last year, Mississippi St. This year, the Razorbacks. It's all my fault Mike Anderson is getting fired at the end of this season. On the plus side, maybe they hire Steve Alford or Jim Harrick to replace him. (Dawg Sports)
Surprisingly, Anton Beard may not have a starting job once he returns. Beating Evansville is better than you think. (Anchor of Gold)
You guys are aware you're allowed to play games this month right? (Rock M Nation)
Auburn went undefeated again this week by not playing. It's as if the same guy who hired Gene Chizik, Tony Barbee, Sunny Golloway, built a $13.9 million TV so we could see an average football team in exquisite detail, and let Muschamp walk after a year with no buyout is also in charge of our basketball schedule. (College and Magnolia)
The MTSU game may actually tell us a lot about whether they're ready to compete in the SEC. (Anchor of Gold)
They have some decent players, and should improve as the season goes on. But they haven't beaten anyone yet. (Dawg Sports)
Do you even shoot, bro? (Anchor of Gold)
I bet Dorian Finney Smith enjoys Proust's early work...(Rock M Nation)
They really should be better than this, but something just seems to be off right now. (Anchor of Gold)
Games against Georgia Tech and Clemson coming off a near two week break during exams gives Georgia time to rest some injuries, tweak some things, and start what should be an NCAA bubble push. But the supposed strength of the backcourt has yet to appear. (Dawg Sports)
I demand a Mississippi State vs Georgia second round matchup in Nashville to see which fanbase loses it first. (Rock M Nation)
I wanted to rank someone ahead of Kentucky this week but no one stepped up and took the crown. (College and Magnolia)
When someone says John Calipari is just a coach who just rolls the balls out there, he should introduce them to Johnny Jones. (A Sea of Blue)
They haven't looked that impressive, but they're almost #1 by default right now. (Anchor of Gold)
When someone says John Calipari is just a coach who just rolls the balls out there, he should introduce them to Johnny Jones. (A Sea of Blue) - Editors Note, it's great, it works for both schools!!!
So Johnny Jones is just the real life version of Perd Hapley from Parks and Rec right? (Rock M Nation)
Ben Simmons went off for 43 points but LSU still trailed for most of the game against the North Florida Ospreys. Something is bad wrong in Baton Rouge. (College and Magnolia)
In just seven games, Malik Newman has already gone from being projected as a lottery pick to a fringe first-rounder, also known as being Howlanded. (A Sea of Blue)
They've allowed over a point per possession in all but one game, and that includes two games against SWAC teams. (Anchor of Gold)
They lost to Southern. At home. Not to Southern Miss in football. Not Southern Illinois, who sits atop the Missouri Valley conference standings. But the SWAC school out of New Orleans, Southern. Southern just lost to a school named Grand Canyon, who until right now you only knew as a giant ditch in Arizona. (Dawg Sports)
Missouri is on a three game win streak. Win just one of the next three games and you'll escape the basement. (College and Magnolia)
All I want for Christmas is a Kim Anderson sings the Holiday Classics Record. (Rock M Nation)
Mama always said if you can't say something nice, don't talk about Missouri basketball :( (A Sea of Blue)
Quietly rounding into form; the UMass win is better than you think. (Anchor of Gold)
They haven't beaten anyone because they haven't played anyone. And they've still lost twice at home. (Dawg Sports)
Just waiting to open that new building that looks like a smaller and more fearsome Mizzou Arena. (Rock M Nation)
Who would have thought SC would be the last unbeaten team left in the SEC? Credit to Frank Martin for a) A great turnaround that looks like it will end in at least the NIT — which alone is a massive turnaround from last year — and possibly in NCAA Tournament. b) Being only the second-most famous psycho coach on campus now. (A Sea of Blue)
If South Carolina beats eight terrible teams by 15-20 but no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound? (College and Magnolia)
THEY AIN'T PLAYED NOBODY, PAWWWWWWL. (Anchor of Gold)
They lost to Nebraska. (Dawg Sports)
Hasn't played in so long, I almost forgot they have a basketball team. Like a lot of Vols fans now that I think about it. (Anchor of Gold)
Like Auburn, they've decided that playing Basketball is overrated, they're more into the whole practice thing. (Rock M Nation)
Same deal as last year: when Danuel House is having an off night, he compounds the problem by taking 21 shots. (Anchor of Gold)
Their wins over Texas and Gonzaga give them the nod over an undefeated South Carolina. (Dawg Sports)
It's hot as hell in Phoenix, but as a wise man once said, it's a dry heat. (Rock M Nation)
Coming off back to back losses, the December 22 trip to Purdue looms large. (Dawg Sports)
They played Wednesday night like they are afraid of success. (Anchor of Gold)
What happened to Memorial Magic? (Rock M Nation)
And that will conclude week 5. Some movement, and still a lot of squishy gooey middle where teams should start to separate themselves from the rest. Stay tuned and spend your Saturday watching all the basketball now that football is over.
Enjoy the games!