It’s finally here, college basketball season is finally upon us! After six months of hibernation, signings, scandals and coaching shocks, we’re back to getting down to business on the hardwood itself. Like the rest of the college basketball world, the SEC tips off with 13 games today with only the Gators waiting until next week to start play.
Since April we’ve been hearing about good the SEC is expected to be this season with a major influx of talent, head coaches with actual coaching backgrounds (and successful ones to boot) and teams in year three of their current retooling looking to make the expected jump from good on paper in November to actually good on the floor in March.
But, this may all go up in smoke as a few teams have been caught up in the pay for play scandal surrounding Addidas. Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M, all three teams expected to be flag bearers for the conference have had to suspend or declare ineligible some of their best players, and don’t be surprised if when watching these teams and others that you notice a certain player absent from the lineup and sitting in street clothes on the bench. That’s what makes this first ranking so complicated!
As of the posting of this article, we still don’t know who is and who isn’t going to be affected by the current investigation. So far, Colin Sexton of Bama, Austin Wiley and Daniel Purifoy of Auburn and at A&M a whole plethora of players aren’t playing due to violation of team rules. What this will do for the conference’s ability to do in March in what was supposed to be its greatest season in some time, we’ll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, take these rankings for what they are in the moment they are published.
As a reminder, our voters from across the SEC SB Nation Universe ranked the teams 1-14 for how they expect them to play this season and then provided commentary on why they did. Nothing is certain from week to week (except that Ole Miss will sit dead in the middle) so let’s see how the preseason has shaken out.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Kentucky and Florida sit in first and second in the SEC Power Rankings. I know right?! The two standard bearers for our conference remain in the top two spots, Kentucky based on another top 2 ranked class in the country and Florida by the continued development of a great core from Mike White’s first season. Neither have even a wiff of NCAA stank on ‘em. The SEC runs through Lexington and Gainesville, just as it was and always has. Joining the Cats and Gators are the Aggies of A&M who have given up the whole football school thing and fully embraced the roundball. They could be in a spot of bother due to all the suspensions, and with a first game with West Virginia in Germany, well who knows how the opening of the season will go. For now, they live on at the top of our rankings.
Welcome to the guys who as of now, in the minds of our pollsters could be dancing in March. And welcome back Mizzou! In our three years of doing this, never has Mizzou been ranked so high. But when you’ve got an amazing recruiting class and the top player in the country coming in, well that’s going to turn some heads. Joining the Tigers are the Crimson Tide who have, in Avery Johnson’s third year are ready to make the move with a talented defensive squad and some highly rated recruits coming in, once they get reinstated. Following closely on the Tide’s heels are the Hogs of Arkansas. After taking a massive step back following the departure of Michael Qualls and “Fighting” Bobby Portis, Mike Anderson has reloaded his team with some highly ranked recruits, including a couple big stars from the JUCO ranks. The Hogs will press, win at home, and if they can sneak a few road wins here and there could be a tough out come tournament time.
Finally, we’ve got the Commodores of Vanderbilt lead by the tandem of the most SEC of SEC names, Riley LaChance and Mathew Fisher-Davis. Riley LaChance is your new “Sebastian Saiz I can’t believe he’s still in college guy” for this season, so enjoy him as he completes his 8th year of school won’t you? Bryce Drew showed he was far ahead of schedule last year getting Kevin Stallings’ guys to play well, and looks to have implemented his defensive philosophy successfully.
Welcome to the uncertainty, the upside down of the SEC if you will. Auburn leads the pack and frankly we have no idea what to do with them. They’re stacked and anyone of consequence is under an NCAA investigation, all because the rifelman just couldn’t keep his fingers out of the cookie jar. Did Bruce Pearl know? Well it doesn’t matter. Walk that line Bruce, walk it straight. We’ve also got State in here. Ben Howland is a marvelous recruiter but it hasn’t translated to big wins or the huge step forward everyone expected. Sure, they’re not losing at Rick Ray levels and people are going to the Hump, but it’s getting to be put up or shut up time in Starkvegas. Finally, we’ve got Georgia in the mix who still have Yante Maten on the roster and that’s enough to keep the Dawgs in the conversation. Best player in the SEC? Quite possibly...
It feels like just yesterday that South Carolina was making an unexpected run to the final four, potentially assisted by a little home court advantage, but when it gets Duke, we’re all on board. Everyone is gone, and I mean everyone. We’re in complete rebuild here people. Oddly sitting in 12th is Ole Miss. Listen, there are few certainties in life, but Ole Miss finishing at 7th or 8th is, so look for Andy Kennedy’s Rebels to move up as the season progresses.
Well, there have to be people at the bottom, and in our bottom we’ve got Tennessee and LSU. Tennessee has got a very young squad yet again, so we’ll see what kind of magic Rick Barnes can pull from out of his hat, but it looks like the Vols are still in rebuild mode. LSU on the other hand is finally free of the Johnny Jones era and have taken on WIll Wade, most recently of VCU from the Shaka Smart tree. LSU will be bad this year, but could surprise a team or two, but at least they’ll be disciplined bad and not whatever it was they’ve been doing the past few years.
Let’s check out the Rankings
|Team||Points||Ranking||Ranking Last Year||Change||Highest Pick||Lowest Pick|
|Texas A&M||107||3rd||10th||Up 7||3rd||4th|
|Mississippi State||52||9th||12th||Up 3||5th||11th|
|South Carolina||43||11th||4th||Down 7||7th||12th|
|Ole Miss||38||12th||6th||Down 6||5th||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
Oh come on now, you can't be good at basketball too, Alabama. That's just wrong. (Anchor of Gold)
They aren’t bad and could be much higher once games are going. (Dawg Sports)
It’s clear Avery Johnson has his best team but questions over Sexton’s eligibility look like they’ll linger into the season. Tide are a tourney team if Sexton can go and Key comes back healthy. (Garnet and Black Attack)
Time for Mike Anderson to put on a show because it’s long past football season in Fayetteville. (Rock M Nation)
Arkansas should be good with all the returning experience it has. (Arkansas Fight)
Has six seniors on the roster, which is something I didn't think you were allowed to do any more. (Anchor of Gold)
Immense talent if the FBI and Pearl aren’t killing them. (Dawg Sports)
Everything sucks. When your program's all-time leading scorer/assistant head coach ends your hopes of your first NCAA Tournament run in 15 years before the season starts by getting two of your top players declared ineligible due to involvement in an FBI probe, everything sucks. (College and Magnolia)
It could have been worse, the FBI could have caught Chuck Person handing out cash while mid BBQ I suppose. (Rock M Nation)
Picking Kentucky number one is boring, besides that it's fascist. I'm picking the Gators, it's more democratic. (College and Magnolia)
I think Florida is the class of the league, with Kentucky right on its heels. (Arkansas Fight)
Besides Kentucky and Florida, I'm honestly not sure why I ranked the teams the way I did. I need to see some basketball first to have any idea what's going on here. (Orange and White Report)
Dawg will go as far as Maten will take them. (Garnet and Black Attack)
Maten is a beast and the front line is as stout as you’ll find, but the backcourt could kill them. (Dawg Sports)
$5 to the first person who can name a Georgia player other than Yante Maten. (Anchor of Gold)
UK and Florida - Pretty even at the top, give the edge to UK based on Coach Cal. (Garnet and Black Attack)
Coach Cal keeps getting it done in Lexington, like he did at Memphis and at UMass...yup, nothing to see here. (Rock M Nation)
I'm not sure they're the best team in the SEC. I just can't decide who else would be better. (Anchor of Gold)
Will probably need a year to remove the stench of Johnny Jones. (Anchor of Gold)
It’s gonna take some time to get out of the gutter they were left in. (Dawg Sports)
Do you think LSU told Johnny Jones he was fired, or did they just stop paying him and hope he gets the idea? (Rock M Nation)
Now a junior, Q Weatherspoon is a dark-horse candidate for conference player of the year. (Garnet and Black Attack)
Weatherspoon is healthy which helps but issues are still there. (Dawg Sports)
I'm kind of at a loss to figure out why everyone assumes this team will suck. (Anchor of Gold)
Mizzou should be the biggest turnaround story of the year if all the newcomers gel early. (College and Magnolia)
I almost don’t want the season to start because the past 7 months of Mizzou basketball have easily been the best since 2012...we’re off season champs!!! (Rock M Nation)
Look, SEC, not having Cuonzo take his team to Knoxville in his first year back in the league is a serious oversight. (Anchor of Gold)
They’ll end up higher than this, because Andy Kennedy is always within a game of .500 in SEC play. Always. (Dawg Sports)
Andy Kennedy might have his most talented roster ever, so watch him still end up in the NIT with it. (Anchor of Gold)
Maybe Andy Kennedy can coach the football team as well...(Rock M Nation)
They lost so much in the backcourt it’s gotta hurt them. (Dawg Sports)
Gamecocks lost a lot with Thornwell graduating, Dozier going pro and Felder being dismissed. Chris Silva will dominate but after that, questions remain. (Garnet and Black Attack)
I think crazy ass Frank Martin’s going to make a return mid December and it’s going to be glorious. (Rock M Nation)
If you can’t say anything nice, [silence]. (Dawg Sports)
Hey Vol fans, do you still want Bruce Pearl back now? (Anchor of Gold)
I have a feeling this isn’t going to help ease the pain of the football season. (Rock M Nation)
A&M should be really good if they can stay grounded. (Arkansas Fight)
Williams and Davis are going to be awesome down-low. Aggies have the makings of a team that could do some damage come March. (Garnet and Black Attack)
I feel like this is way too much trust to put in a team coached by Billy Kennedy. (Anchor of Gold)
Vandy looks to put a strong product in their evil, sideways gym. (College and Magnolia)
(goes back to waiting for Darius Garland to announce his college choice) (Anchor of Gold)
Because they still can’t play on a legal court. (Dawg Sports)
That will take care of our preseason power rankings. Lots of new faces in new places to be sure and the possibility of a really fun SEC season is just around the corner in two months, so come back here weekly to find out how the SEC views itself and what kind of nonsense we find ourselves in, you never know...SECBASKETBALLFEVER is only dormant, never truly dead.