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SEC Power Rankings: The Preseason Edition

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SEC Writers from the 14 Schools Rank the SEC from 1 to 14

SEC Power Rankings

Welcome back to Year 3 of our Weekly SEC Power Rankings! As we’ve done in the past we’ve polled representatives from every school in the SEC to get a weekly feel for how each school is viewed from all 14 corners of the conference.

With this being the first edition of the 2016 - 2017 edition, you can take this as a preseason preview of how our contributors view where the strength lies in the conference (hint it rhymes with Schmentucky) and where there is still work to be done (hint it rhymes with Schissouri).

As we did last year I’ll be breaking down the rankings into tiers, typically four though there will be weeks where we can get down to as many as five. Reading the tiers you can assume our rankers view Tier 1 schools as NCAA participants, Tier 2 Bubble teams, Tier 3 Hoping for an NIT berth, Tier 4 coming out of or entering a down time in the programs rehab or downfall and Tier 5 already looking forward to football season and potentially a head coaching search and the optimism that invariably comes with a change in direction.

The SEC season effectively ended when Texas A&M was ousted by Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last March, and a lot has happened since then. Coaches and players moved on, recruits and transfers came in and broad proclamations about all 14 teams in the SEC being good enough to get into the tournament were made. That all said, let’s see how our voters have ranked our 14 teams in our pre season poll, where only one team was unanimously chosen in a spot in our table.

Tier 1

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Kentucky is stacked again and looked upon by our voters and pretty much the entire national media as the favorite to win the SEC this season. Last year, Kentucky (by its standards) had a bit of a down year going out in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Indiana. But because Calipari, the Wildcats reloaded their roster and bring in another tremendous class to see what magic Cal can get done this season.

Coming in second we’ve got Florida as Mike White enters season 2 as head coach of the Gators. The Gators have a lot of young talent and that showed out a bit as they made it to the quarterfinals of the NIT last season. While they don’t come into the season ranked, they are receiving votes and with the talent on the roster and the brain on the bench, a strong showing this season and tournament bid aren’t out of the question.

Close on the Gators heels we’ve got the Aggies of A&M. They lost a good amount of talent, a recruit to the dreaded “academics” and lead recruiter and assistant coach Rick Stansburry who is straight killing it at Western Kentucky. The Aggies do return young stars in the making Kobie Eubanks and DJ Hogg, so a tournament bid may not be out of the question for this group.

Tier 2

Leading Tier 2 we’ve got the Arkansas Razorbacks who after an off year precipitated by the departures of Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls return a loaded lineup with a bevy JUCO transfers and guys that can play Mike Anderson ball the way its supposed to. If you’re looking for a surprise team to possibly challenge Kentucky at the top this season, it’s the Hogs.

Also in Tier 2 you’ve got the Georgia Bulldogs who are led by possibly the SEC’s best player, Yante Maten who can pretty much do it all from the inside and possibly the outside this season. The team is young but if Mark Fox can get the best out of his players, Georgia could be headed back to the NCAAs after a year visiting the NIT.

The only school to make a coaching change in the SEC this season rounds out Tier 2 and as such are a bit of a mystery. Vandy loses a lot from a team that somehow got into the first four last year, and bring in new coach Bryce Drew to implement his strong defensive philosophy. How this team fares is anyone’s guess as they are not a roster overloaded with talent and who knows how the team transitions in Drew Year 1.

Tier 3

Tier 3 is full of potential and question marks and potentially more a reflection of the weakness of the rest of the conference than anything else. At the top you’ve got Auburn in year three of the Bruce Pearl experiment and if this is going to work, big steps are going to have to be made this year. The team has a wonderful roster on paper and have gotten better through the loss of certain players, but it’s put up or shut up time on the Plains.

Joining Auburn you’ve got South Carolina who almost made the tourney last year if not for some odious non conference scheduling. It looks like the Cocks schedule is a bit more beefed up than the past two years, but they lose both Dozier and Thornwell from last year’s team and bring in a big recruiting class so this could be more of a rebuild in Columbia East.

Finally rounding out Tier 3 sits Alabama who did not embarrass themselves in Avery Johnson’s first year with some big wins and some questionable losses. But the Tide bring in a strong recruiting class and played some very good defense last year at times, so pinning how this team will do down is a bit tricky.

Tier 4

Welcome to the state of Mississippi. State and Ole Miss take up Tier 4 and are separated by 7 points in our rankings. Ole Miss lost Moody but return Saiz for what feels like his 8th year in college, and State lost Malik Newman after one season but return Quinndary Weatherspoon who was the more polished and productive of the two freshman last season. Ben Howland is in year two of his rebuild and is still recruiting at a strong and stead clip (thanks Addidas!) while Andy Kennedy is just doing his Andy Kennedy thing. We may be undervaluing Ole Miss because there’s nothing that jumps off the page but AK seems to get a good showing out of his squad every year so overlook them at your own risk.

Tier 5

We close out the rankings with the dross of the conference. Johnny Jones’ LSU squad comes in in 12th place after doing nothing with Ben Simmons and generally doing that thing where he looks lost. Tennessee continues to rebuild in Rick Barnes second year but the team is extremely young and inexperienced so set your expectations accordingly. Coming in dead last, our only unanimous decision, are the Missouri Tigers who for the second year in a row reloaded the roster and cut ties with Kim Anderson’s first recruiting class completely. The energy around the program is good, and Anderson has “his guys” but outside of Kentucky this roster is extremely young and may not have the talent to keep Anderson in his job.

Team Points Ranking Final Ranking At the End of Last Season Change Highest Pick Lowest Pick
Kentucky 97 1st 1st None 1st 2nd
Florida 86 2nd 7th Up 5 2nd 4th
Texas A&M 80 3rd 2nd Down 1 1st 7th
Arkansas 71 4th 10th Up 6 3rd 7th
Georgia 68 5th 6th Up 1 2nd 10th
Vanderbilt 67 6th 3rd Down 3 3rd 7th
Auburn 48 7th 13th Up 6 5th 12th
South Carolina 47 8th 4th Down 4 5th 11th
Alabama 46 9th 9th None 6th 12th
Mississippi State 39 10th 11th Up 1 6th 11th
Ole Miss 32 11th 8th Down 3 6th 13th
LSU 28 12th 7th Down 5 8th 13th
Tennessee 20 13th 12th Down 1 9th 13th
Mizzou 7 14th 14th None 14th 14th

Points were distributed as follows: 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

Avery Johnson, why do you make me love you so? (College and Magnolia)

Roll Tide! (Roll Bama Roll)

Talented enough that the NCAA Tournament is a realistic possibility. (Anchor of Gold)

Mike Anderson has got a quintessential Mike Anderson team this season, bold prediction, the Hogs don’t lose at home this season. (Rock M Nation)

My random good darkhorse is Arkansas. (Red Cup Rebellion)

The Hogs never fall too far for me due to Walton Arena. That building and that style of play... it just works. My favorite home venue in the conference. (Good Bull Hunting)

With Bowers gone, who’s going to play the Point? (Rock M Nation)

Auburn's freshmen are as good as advertised. This is the year Pearl's Tigers start making noise in conference. (College and Magnolia)

Bruce Pearl has an SEC-level roster this year which is frankly not something that was true in his first two years. (Anchor of Gold)

Mike White was a good hire. This turnaround won't take much longer. (Good Bull Hunting)

They're weirdly flying under the radar, but they look like a top 25 team to me. (Anchor of Gold)

Gorjok Gak, best name in the SEC or BEST NAME IN THE SEC? (Rock M Nation)

I believe in Mark Fox. In a year of parity, go with coaches and systems. (College and Magnolia)

My bad darkhorse is UGA. (Red Cup Rebellion)

They may not have much offensive punch outside of Frazier and Maten, but they might not need it with that defense. (Anchor of Gold)

Kentucky is the clear-cut favorite to win the league; 2-11 is Game of Thrones. (College and Magnolia)

Kentucky is way out in front of the whole SEC. I need to see these teams before making any more judgements. (Orange and White Report)

Won two exhibition games by a combined 150 points. Which, yeah, level of competition and everything but that's still a little scary. (Anchor of Gold)


LSU

Ben Simmons is gone and Johnny Jones isn't. Adjust your expectations accordingly. (Anchor of Gold)

Why does Johnny Jones still have a job? (Good Bull Hunting)

Does anyone do less with more than Johnny Jones? He’s like bizarro John Calipari. (Rock M Nation)

Man.... they lost a ton. But they lost on a ton from a team that wasn't very good. Can the new guys hit the ground running? (Good Bull Hunting)

This feels like an NCAA Tournament team... in 2018. (Anchor of Gold)

This feels like a version of Missouri but you know, better Missouri. (Rock M Nation)

Missouri is bad. (Red Cup Rebellion)

Kim Anderson is relying on one of the youngest teams in the NCAA in terms of experience per KenPom, so...good luck young Tigers. (Rock M Nation)

Mizzou: Sorry. (Anchor of Gold)

If you look back to photos of the day the SEC was formed all the way back in 1932, if you look close enough, you’ll see Sebastian Saiz and Andy Kennedy in the background. (Rock M Nation)

Going out on a limb for Ole Miss to be middle of the pack. (Red Cup Rebellion)

Andy Kennedy is the longest-tenured basketball coach in the SEC is a sentence that I never thought I would write and have it be true. (Anchor of Gold)

South Carolina is building something but this year will be a regression. (College and Magnolia)

They'll miss the three seniors from last year's team a lot more than people realize. (Anchor of Gold)

Frank Martin said at SEC Media Days that all 14 teams could make the NCAA tournament in other news, Frank Martin is a day drinker. (Rock M Nation)

Would be an easy selection for 14th if Mizzou didn't exist. (Anchor of Gold)

Have you seen the warmup pants? I mean have you seen them? (Rock M Nation)

Their ceiling is pretty high, but they're about one injury away from disaster. (Anchor of Gold)

Do I think Texas A&M is the best team in the SEC? No. I'd truthfully have them 3rd or 4th. Did I give them an honorary first place vote just this once to honor last season's regular season title? Absolutely. (Good Bull Hunting)

They’ve got as many guards as Mizzou has wins this football season, that’s not a good look...(Rock M Nation)

Why are people so sure that Vandy's going to have a smooth transition? (College and Magnolia)

Is no longer coached by Kevin Stallings, which still feels a little weird. (Anchor of Gold)

Man, that one guy is tall. This concludes your GBH Vanderbilt pre-season analysis. (Good Bull Hunting)


And that will do it for our first set of rankings this season. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can see how right or wrong we were in March, and come back next week when we’re making fun of the SEC team that lost to a random directional college at some point this weekend.

Big games to enjoy this weekend, and week, Vandy vs Marquette tonight and the big one, Kentucky and Michigan State on Tuesday night at MSG.

Enjoy the season everyone!