A few weeks ago, I released my SEC Basketball Preseason Predictions but I made it clear in that post that those were my predictions for how the league would look at the end of the year. Those predictions were based on picking each matchup for each team. Some teams have harder schedules while some have easier schedules and that played into those predictions. Also, as expected with a league full of young teams, some teams will have the potential of being much better at the end of the season or by the time SEC play rolls around.
Ignoring each of those things and just looking at teams as they are right now, these are my SEC basketball power rankings. I came up with this order by assuming each team would play on a neutral court, right now.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky opens another basketball season as the best team in the SEC. This is another young, talented team with a few key returning players to truly make this team dangerous. The Kentucky Wildcats will start this season as the best in the league and will only get better as they learn to play with each other and discover their individual roles.
2. Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies tied Kentucky for the regular season SEC title last season and despite losing four starters from last year’s team, they enter this season remaining as one of the best teams. Tyler Davis will be one of the best bigs in the SEC and if the Aggies can find a true point guard they’ll be dangerous all year long.
3. Florida Gators
A lot of people are picking Florida to finish in the top of the SEC. The Gators have a difficult SEC schedule so I don’t see them finishing super high in the league, but they are certainly one of the best teams overall and will be looking to do damage with Mike White at the helm.
4. Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas returns two of the top players in the SEC in Dusty Hannahs and Moses Kingsley. On top of that, the Razorbacks added three of the top six junior college players. If Mike Anderson can find more production from the bench, the Razorbacks will be able to play with anyone in the league.
5. Georgia Bulldogs
I had a conversation with someone regarding the Bulldogs this season and we were discussing depth vs talent at the top. In Georgia’s case, they have two of the best players in the league in J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten. But after that the talent drops off a little. In the early season, I think having two great players will be better than depth, but as the season goes on, especially if injuries were to arise, I think talented teams with more depth could surpass the excellent play of just Frazier and Maten.
6. Vanderbilt Commodores
Similar to Georgia, the Commodores have a pretty good starting five with a lot of size, but then the talent seemingly drops off when Vanderbilt has to go to the bench. If Vanderbilt can stay healthy, which they currently are at the start of the season, then they can remain one of the better teams in the SEC. With very little depth, injuries and inconsistencies could prove dangerous quickly though if anything were to happen to the starters.
7. South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina will drop off a little this season with the loss of senior leadership such as Michael Carrera, but I still think Frank Martin will make the Gamecocks a competitive team this season. Duane Notice returns as a 1000 point scorer, PJ Dozier is a former 5-star recruit, and Sedee Keita will try to step in as a highly rated freshman. On top of that, Sindarius Thornwell returns as the Gamecocks leading returning scorer, and I really think the Gamecocks could end up being better than last year’s team if they can survive a slightly beefed up schedule this season.
8. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama was a decent team in the SEC last season, but with Dazon Ingram returning from injury and talented newcomers Ar’Mond Davis and Braxton Key joining the Tide, Avery Johnson will look to make Alabama take a step up in the SEC. At this point Alabama doesn’t have a single player that stands out as the star like Retin Obasohan was last season, but the Crimson Tide have one of the most balanced and well-rounded teams in the SEC this season. Alabama should be able to play with a few different looks this season and if a player or two can really step up they could find themselves a little higher at the end of the season.
9. Auburn Tigers
Bruce Pearl has been bringing in talented players since he arrived on the plains and this season should be the first real signs of that talent increase. Auburn could be a ten man rotation with very little drop-off outside of the starting five. They’ll be sloppy to start the season, but the Tigers have potential to be one of the better teams if the young players can contribute along with the few veterans. Auburn lacks true size, but the Tigers partially make up for that with some bigger, aggressive guards that should be able to rebound the basketball well while maintaining an uptempo style of play.
10. Mississippi State
Mississippi State is very similar to Auburn with tons of young talent. To an even further extent, the Bulldogs have nine newcomers, including seven freshman, and almost each and every one of them has the potential to contribute early on. Like Auburn, if the Bulldogs develop well this season they have potential to climb these rankings. However, with just I.J. Ready and Quinndary Weatherspoon making up most of the returning talent, Mississippi State could look a little disorganized and sloppy early on.
11. Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss will greatly miss Stefan Moody this season, but with Sebastian Saiz returning Andy Kennedy might be able to build up enough of a supporting cast in order to avoid the bottom of the league. Cullen Neal and Deandre Burnett are quality transfers that should greatly help the Rebels this season. Ole Miss will need increased contribution from players like Marcanvis Hymon and Rasheed Brooks if they hope to challenge more than just the lower teams this season.
12. LSU Tigers
I have the Tigers ranked here among the bottom three teams mostly because Antonio Blakeney should be good enough this season to make the Tigers watchable. However, LSU is still coached by Johnny Jones and he didn’t bring in anywhere near the talent he had last season. LSU will be a sad team most of the season and it should be Jones’ last season in Baton Rouge unless some miracle takes place.
13. Tennessee Volunteers
The Volunteers bring in eight newcomers this season with none of them being highly notable. Kwe Parker has the ability to be a very athletic player for Tennessee, but it probably won’t be enough. Tennessee will attempt to replace the production of Kevin Punter and Armani Moore, but with the roster they have this season, it probably won’t be enough. Rick Barnes has his work cut out for him this season, but the Volunteers are certainly starting out at the bottom in my eyes.
14. Missouri Tigers
I doubt there will be a lot of questions on this as Missouri is ranked last in the SEC by almost everyone and is a good bit behind the rest of the SEC teams in many national predictions and simulations. Either some of the newcomers will have to be a pleasant surprise, or one of the returners will have to greatly step up. Terrence Phillips and Kevin Puryear have the potential to be decent for the Tigers this season but at the best Missouri should aim to not be the worst team in the league again this season.
As always, I’m sure there will be a ton of debate about my SEC rankings, but these will be updated each week and will become more solidified as we get to see each team face serious competition. Even once the SEC schedule rolls around, we might not know where everyone stands. This season should be an interesting year for the SEC and it could end terribly with just a team or two getting invited to the big dance or the younger, talented teams could actually develop better than expected and add even more depth to an improving conference.