Happy New Year SEC Basketball Fans! Our first poll of the 2016 calendar year wraps up how our voters viewed each SEC squad as they closed out the year, hopefully on the good foot, ready to start 2016 with a bang and then a hop, skip and jump into the SEC portion of the schedule.
Ah the SEC schedule where we'll finally be able to sort out the quality of some of the more confusing teams in the conference. Looking at the rankings and the play of all 14 teams to date it is difficult to determine who is really good, good, ok, bad and not good at all. And after having seen all 14 teams play, I'm just as confused as the rest of our voters. But let's get to the breakdown and see where our 14 teams fell in the final poll of 2015.
Tier 1 remains unchanged from last week's poll, though three teams are now receiving first place votes in Kentucky, Texas A&M and surprisingly still undefeated South Carolina. Vanderbilt rounds out Tier 1 hanging on though their grasp seems slightly tenuous.
In the week that was Kentucky got a big win the day after Christmas by taking down top 25 team Louisville in a game that came down to the wire. The game was at home but after the beating they took in Brooklyn the week before, this was cause for celebration.
The Aggies held onto the second spot after beating the kids from Cal Poly, which seems to indicate that our voters are not interested in dropping them if they go out on the court and take care of business.
South Carolina continues to hold onto the third spot, remain undefeated and have wins over Power 5 conference teams, along with a splash of a beating of Francis Marion which apparently is a college.
Closing out Tier 1 and hanging on for dear life are the Commodores of Vanderbilt. The 'Dores open the conference season tomorrow with LSU at home, which should tell us a great deal about both teams.
Tier 2 is continuing its expansion with the welcoming of Alabama to the group.
The Gators continue to lead Tier 2 , though they did suffer a loss to in state rival Florida State, so this could portend some shifting in future power rankings as it appears much of Florida's hay has been made just not looking bad in losses and beating the teams that aren't all that great to begin with.
'Bama managed to jump three spots from 9th and are now sitting tied for 6th as all they do is continue to win and when they do lose, it's in an understandable fashion.
Tied with 'Bama at 6th sit the Rebels of Ole Miss who just moved into a brand new fancy building! The winners of seven straight games will get right into with their SEC season tip off in Lexington against top SEC team (for these rankings anyway) Kentucky. As with Vanderbilt above, this game will tell us more about what Andy Kennedy's guys have in them for the season.
Sitting in 8th we've got the Bulldogs of Georgia who have righted their ship with four straight wins over decent competition, much like Mississippi State below and are starting to look like the team many of our voters expected them to be at the start of the year.
Finally, closing out Tier 2 is confusing and maddeningly inconsistent LSU. Does anyone know what's going on there? The team is healthy, fully stocked, yet lost at home to a sneaky good Wake Forest team. But that's not what was expected coming into the season. The SEC schedule should give our voters a clear sense of what's actually going on down in Baton Rouge.
Tier 3 continues to house the same group of teams it has to date, Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas and suddenly competent, dare I say it, good Mississippi State.
Tennessee continues to lead this group, but like Mizzou below them have yet to beat a Power 5 conference team in the non con under new coach Rick Barnes, though a close loss to Butler on the road is nothing to get too upset about.
Auburn has closed out 2015 with two straight losses to Harvard (excusable) and Hawaii (less so) and looks to be trending down in year 2 of the Bruce Pearl era.
The Hogs of Arkansas sit at .500 and our voters are recognizing that record, however Mike Anderson's team has shown signs of life of late and could be a surprise team come SEC play where their style of play will prove a great equalizer, especially at home where handchecking doesn't exist!
Finally closing out Tier 3 is Mississippi State. The other Bulldogs are getting healthy and while they haven't beaten anyone of any merit to date, there is optimism there...you can just feel it. Their first test of the year comes Wednesday when they take on Texas A&M at home.
Congrats Mizzou, you're no longer in Tier 5! Though the Tigers are still last in our rankings, they are at least now in Tier 4. Mizzou has beaten all the bad teams on their schedule and lost to all the good ones. 2016 opens with a date with Savannah State before opening conference play with a roadie to Georgia. What Mizzou does in early 2016 will probably determine current head coach Kim Anderson's fate...
|Team||Points||Ranking||Ranking Last Week||Change||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|Alabama||55||6th (Tied)||9th||Up 3||5th||11th|
|Ole Miss||55||6th (Tied)||6th||None||6th||10th|
|Georgia||53||8th||7th (Tied)||Down 1||6th||11th|
|LSU||47||9th||7th (Tied)||Down 2||7th||10th|
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
Lost at home to Oregon, and needed OT to beat Jacksonville St, but still has those wins over Notre Dame and Wichita. (Dawg Sports)
Is there some sort of unwritten rule that regardless of who they're playing, the game will go down to the wire? (Anchor of Gold)
I imagine if I pointed out to Alabama fans that their team had won 6 of 7 games they'd tell me to be quiet, Saban dance video is on. (Rock M Nation)
Held strong with a really good Dayton team on the road...the Hogs could be turning the corner. (Rock M Nation)
Suddenly looking like they could be a tough out in SEC play. (Anchor of Gold)
A couple bad losses and no respectable ones. Mike Anderson better hired protection for his stables. (Dawg Sports)
Free Daniel Purifoy? (Anchor of Gold)
They just lost to Hawai'i. Bruce Pearl probably doesn't want to come back from the honeymoon, but it's over Bruce. It's over. (Dawg Sports)
Hey Mizzou fans, Jankovic had 21 points in Hawaii's win over Auburn...damn it!(Rock M Nation)
Saturday night's game against Georgia is arguably the most intriguing/closest of this weekend's slate. (Dawg Sports)
SEC play will probably be most telling for the Gators who seem ok, but not great, maybe…(Rock M Nation)
I really just can't shake the notion that the Gators have problems similar to last season. (Anchor of Gold)
Finally beat Georgia Tech but the Bulldogs need a big turnaround during in SEC play for Fox to keep his job. (For Whom the Cowbell Tolls)
They're starting to come together, Pepper! Startin' to come together. (Dawg Sports)
Charles Mann's sudden loss of any ability to make baskets is troubling, but seems unlikely to continue. (Anchor of Gold)
Kentucky has flaws but is being carried by talent. (Fox Sports Knoxville)
Solid performance over Louisville but squandered a large lead late in the game. They'll continue to improve this season but they're not elite. (For Whom the Cowbell Tolls)
Kentucky has a boat load of talent, but this isn't last year's team. Could blow up your bracket if you have them going too far. (Rock M Nation)
No one is squandering more talent than LSU (Fox Sports Knoxville)
Houston? NC State? Wake Forest? This isn't close to a tournament team. Too many players care about their own performance over team success. (For Whom the Cowbell Tolls)
It's a shame Ben Simmons chose to spend his college career with Johnny Jones. (Dawg Sports)
Putting Gavin Ware on this team just seems like such a waste. (Anchor of Gold)
They've won their last two, but have arguably the worst losses in the conference with Southern and Missouri-KC. (Dawg Sports)
They're beating garbage teams, but Malik Newman is healthy and they're gonna upset some SEC teams this year. (Rock M Nation)
Sorry, but I can think of a few high school teams that would score more than 25 on Mizzou. (Anchor of Gold)
A date with Georgia looms this coming Wednesday which should give us an indication if the obliteration of UAPB actually means something. (Rock M Nation)
No good wins, but lacking an ugly loss keeps them off the bottom three. PROGRESS! (Dawg Sports)
Talk to me after their first six SEC games, cause as of now that schedule is too soft for toilet paper. (Dawg Sports)
Did you know they're moving into a new arena next week? I literally hadn't heard about that a hundred times. (Anchor of Gold)
This team could be good, if they're in the moody to be...see what I did there? (Rock M Nation)
South Carolina is quietly 12-0 and ranked in the top 25 (Fox Sports Knoxville)
One of only a handful of undefeated teams in the country but they lack a signature win. St. John's and Clemson aren't exactly resume building wins. (For Whom the Cowbell Tolls)
It's really past time to stop with the SOS concerns and take this team seriously. (Anchor of Gold)
"Meh." (Dawg Sports)
Anyone else think Rick Barnes looks a bit like Emperor Palpatine? (Rock M Nation)
It's hard to take it as a positive sign when Tennessee State looks like an even match for you. (Anchor of Gold)
This would be a Top 10 team if Tyler Davis could play 30 minutes a night. (Anchor of Gold)
Texas A&M still looks good. (Fox Sports Knoxville)
Beat Baylor soundly at home. These guys are good. (Dawg Sports)
Sandwiched dominant wins over Wofford and Western Michigan with a road loss to Purdue. Their January 9th matchup at South Carolina should be a good litmus test for both. (Dawg Sports)
The potential is there, but still waiting on a signature win. (Anchor of Gold)
Unlike a lot of teams in the SEC without a big nonconference win, they haven't embarrassed themselves this season, so kudos to you fancy pirates! (Rock M Nation)
That's gonna do it for this week! Hope everyone had a fun New Year's Eve and is ready to get into some SEC action starting next week.
Things are gonna clear up...or get murkier...