After a week off, we’re back and right in time as the SEC has entered Conference play and will spend the next three months devouring itself and in some cases its chances at meaningful post season play!
When last we met, the SEC was winning the games they were supposed to and taking care of business in the non conference portion of their schedule. What a difference two weeks can make! Directional schools paid to visit mostly empty fancy arenas and getting wins over SEC teams is becoming the new normal. The top of the conference is having trouble with the games it needs to win to distinguish itself from its Power 6 peers. Basically, #SECBASKETBALLFEVER is alive and well after staying dormant, preserved in pigskinned amber since last March.
With New Year’s Eve tomorrow night we are going to keep the Tiers, however they are all going to be associated with a drink you should expect to find at the party, bar, home or sad basement where you will be turning the page to 2017.
Tier 1 - The Champagne is Flowing for this Team
The top of the SEC table is a lone team, our standard bearer the Kentucky Wildcats. I’ll pause here and let that sink it, I know, it’s a bit of a shock. The Cats will finish the calendar year much as they started it, the class of the Conference. Kentucky started off conference play with a nice solid win over Ole Miss and got the schedule strengthening win to look pretty on Selection Sunday with a thriller of a win over UNC two weeks ago. They did suffer two non conference losses to Louisville and UCLA, and showed a weakness when it came to the ability to hit from deep, showing this team is different that the Kentucky teams we’ve become accustomed to of late. They’re flawed, but every team in the Conference would love to have a lone flaw. Enjoy the Veuve Cliquot Big Blue Nation!
Tier 2 - Top Shelf Liquor is on order here
Welcome to the party, enjoy the open bar to your left! Looking good as the calendar turns we have the Gators of Florida and the Gamecocks of South Carolina, again, like last year. The Gators for their part had a nice non conference schedule and opened SEC play with a good win over a tough Arkansas team on the road, not too shabby. Their losses to undefeated Gonzaga and one loss Duke are nothing to get upset about and even a loss to in state rival Florida State is nothing to lose sleep over. Mike White’s Gators are still young and figuring things out, but they’ve begun SEC play with a good win and things look promising in Gainesville. Striding to the open bar we’ve got the Gamecocks, who at this point could have you seeing double. The team with Sindarius Thornwell is a top 25 group that could make some noise, the one without him can get by teams like Lander but struggle with teams like Seton Hall and Clemson. The Cocks get one more game with Memphis before they open Conference play and what Frank Martin decides to do about his all conference combo guard will decide whether they stay atop the rankings or if we have a repeat of the past few years in Columbia East...
Tier 3 - Can I interest you in an Imported beer or perhaps a Domestic Micro Brew
Welcome to the bloated belly of the conference. And what better way to deal with bloat than a full flavored beer? Grab a Belgian beer to impress your date or perhaps even a micro brew from the Michigan area, feel free to enjoy at your leisure. The middle of the SEC is led by the Razorbacks, who to no one’s surprise suffered a road loss to Minnesota earlier this season and then open the SEC conference season with a home loss to Florida, which is a bit troubling.The Hogs have got to get things moving in the right direction if they want to dance and if they can take care of the dregs of the conference on the road should be in a position to do so. Georgia also resides in Tier 3 and kicked off conference play with a road win at Auburn behind Yante Maten, possibly the best player in the SEC. However, the Dawgs did crap the bed on the road at Oakland, so your guess as to their 2017 is as a good as mine at this point. Following Georgia we’ve got two teams tied for 6th in Auburn and Texas A&M. Both teams opened the Conference seasons with losses, Auburn to the aforementioned Dawgs and A&M to SEC bottom feeder (of late) Tennessee. The loss by A&M could be cause for concern, however the Vols have played well for the entirety of the nonconference season and could be a surprise team in 2017. Auburn has been up and down, and A&M has as well, though each team may be headed in opposite directions once we take a look at things come March. Stay tuned on all four teams in this tier.
Tier 4 - There’s a 30 Pack of Coors Light ‘round back if you’re thirsty
Tap the Rockies in Tier 4! Here we have suddenly not terrible Tennessee and an Ole Miss team that’s missing a no conscious shooting point guard for the first time in what feels like years. The Rebels have had an uninspiring non conference season punctuated by a loss to Middle Tennessee State (though everyone’s doing that at this point) and a Conference opening loss to Kentucky, which everyone could have seen coming. Tennessee on the other hand has faced an extremely difficult non conference schedule and played surprisingly well, taking UNC to the brink. The Vols opened SEC play with a nice win over over A&M and could be much further along than anyone anticipated in year two of the Rick Barnes era. The Vols bear watching for they probably won’t be sipping on the cheap stuff for much longer...
Tier 5 - Here’s a Bottle of Boone’s Farm, go nuts
Something sweet and hangover inducing for you, the bad teams of the SEC. In this portion of the table we’ve got a set of teams who have played quite poorly this non conference season and aside from Vanderbilt either lost in their SEC opener or were lucky enough not to have one. As stated, Vandy beat LSU (who may be the second worst team in the SEC), Bama is beating the teams they should but when faced with a Power 5 team look unable to field a lineup that doesn’t consist of four guys who all play the same position, and State has a loss to East Tennessee State on their resume to date. None of these teams are dancing, no one’s getting a call in March and at this point they’re hoping to play spoiler this season and to feed on teams as bad or worse than they are on the night they have a rare good night.
Tier 6 - Wine in a plastic bag seems your speed
When a team can only muster single digit points, they stand alone on the bottom. Mizzou has lost four straight games, including losses to Lipscomb and Eastern Illinois University...and on top of that freshman players are already transferring out of the program. It’s dark days in Columbia West my friends...dark, dark days.
|Team||Points||Ranking||Ranking Last Week||Change||Highest Pick||Lowest Pick|
|South Carolina||71||3rd||2nd||Down 1||3rd||4th|
|Texas A&M||52||6th||5th||Down 1||4th||8th|
|Ole Miss||40||8th||9th||Up 1||7th||10th|
|Mississippi State||20||13th||12th||Down 1||9th||13th|
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
I'm probably too low on the Tide, because they've lost to all the half way decent teams they've played so far. But then again, this is SEC basketball we're talking about here, so we should set our expectations accordingly. (Dawg Sports)
Even at 51, Avery Johnson would probably be the best player on this team. (Anchor of Gold)
Maybe they should try leaving an assistant basketball coach off the bus instead of Lane Kiffin, just to see if that does anything for them. (Rock M Nation)
They're still near the top, but only because no new challengers have appeared. Interested to see how they handle this week's trips to Tennessee and Kentucky. (Good Bull Hunting)
Florida over Arkansas? Well, that's sorted then. (College and Magnolia)
Tuesday's game at Tennessee will show if I'm putting too much stock in to a single game for both teams (and the answer is, as always, probably going to be yes). (Dawg Sports)
I dig the whole, sneak into the opposing team’s huddle until they notice you play Bruce Pearl drew up Thursday night...sneaky, sneaky....(Rock M Nation)
Auburn looked very good, then very bad against Georgia. (College and Magnolia)
Gus Malzahn is wondering why he never thought to just have one of his players wander into the other team's huddle. (Anchor of Gold)
A win on the road at Arkansas is a big boost as they and South Carolina battle for second best. (Dawg Sports)
Wins at Arkansas are a quick way to earn my respect. The Gators appear to be the only team capable of challenging Kentucky wire-to-wire this season. (Good Bull Hunting)
Suddenly, an 0-3 start to SEC play looks like a very real possibility. (Anchor of Gold)
If we can't be good, then I'd at least like this conference to be entertaining. In that light, a special shout out is in order for that Georgia/Auburn huddle video. Nice win by the Dawgs. (Good Bull Hunting)
Auburn has been impressive, and the Dawgs dominated that second half. They haven't shown it consistently, but if that Mark Fox team can start to show up on a nightly basis, NCAA dreams may not be dead yet. (Dawg Sports)
Yante Maten absolutely destroyed Auburn. The Dawgs are waking up. (College and Magnolia)
Kentucky is NBA Jam. (Red Cup Rebellion)
It will be a surprise if I have to actually think about who to put at #1. (Anchor of Gold)
Malik Monk is pretty much just doing whatever he wants out there and if there’s anything that can stop him it hasn’t shown up yet. (Rock M Nation)
It's never pretty when the bottom half of the SEC turns on their own. They really needed that win over Vandy. (Good Bull Hunting)
It's not too often that you score 1.25 points per possession and lose. (Anchor of Gold)
I see you, Johnny. I won't miss you, Johnny. (Dawg Sports)
They didn't LOSE to UMKC, which is an improvement over last year. (Anchor of Gold)
They haven't played anyone with a pulse lately... but in the SEC, playing teams with a pulse has been bad for your health. They might have this thing figured out. (Good Bull Hunting)
A home game Tuesday vs. Alabama would be a nice way to move up the list for next week. To like 11th or 12th maybe. (Dawg Sports)
Lipscomb. Mizzou, we need to talk. (College and Magnolia)
Dear SEC, we know you brought us here ‘cause we’re supposed to be good at basketball...but that’s just not us anymore, we’re really focused on keyboards now. (Rock M Nation)
What's a Lipscomb? Is that the stuff you buy for chapped lips? (Good Bull Hunting)
They held Kentucky under 100. Moral victories! (Anchor of Gold)
Ole Miss witnessed the power of Kentucky's fully armed and operational battle station. (College and Magnolia)
January could be a really rough month for Andy Kennedy, as they follow that Kentucky L with trips to Florida and Auburn next week, followed by loseable home games to Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas A&M bracketing road games at South Carolina and Missouri. Then comes a visit from Big 12 power Baylor. Is a 1-9 run through these 10 games possible? (Dawg Sports)
Sindarius Thornwell's absence hasn't tanked the season, which is good. (Anchor of Gold)
The Gamecocks are solid, and are my bet to nab the third (and maybe last... gulp) SEC bid to the dance. (Good Bull Hunting)
After tonight’s game with Memphis we get to see if the annual tanking in the SEC is making another appearance in Columbia this season. (Rock M Nation)
They won in College Station, and aside from the season opener with Chattanooga, their losses have all been close to very good teams. This team may not be that bad. (Dawg Sports)
Rick Barnes leading an orange UT over Texas A&M. Just like old times. (College and Magnolia)
The Vols have taken some dang good teams to the wire, and they finally put it all together at Texas A&M. This squad could be primed for an early season run near the top of the standings. (Good Bull Hunting)
I don't like putting them 4th, but it's not like there's a clear answer here anyway. If they start 0-3 in conference, with talents like Davis and Hogg, does Billy Kennedy hot seat rumors start? (Dawg Sports)
A season-opening home loss to Tennessee has the fanbase reeling heading into road games at Kentucky and South Carolina. (Good Bull Hunting)
While Thursday was a reminder that their guard play is suspect, Tyler Davis wasn't doing much to help, either. (Anchor of Gold)
Yes, the win in Red Stick looks very nice. But then, we can look at Johnny Jones, Marquette, Bucknell, Butler, Minnesota, Middle Tennessee St, Dayton, and back at Johnny Jones again. (Dawg Sports)
Somehow had never beaten Johnny Jones before Thursday, which totally makes sense. (Anchor of Gold)
Beating a Johnny Jones led team is like learning to swim when you’re 40, sure, you’re proud of yourself and happy to have that done but it’s not something you’re going to be boasting about to your friends. (Rock M Nation)
That will do it for the 2016 season of SEC Power Rankings, come back next week to see what trouble the conference has gotten itself into as we race into 2017!