Bold predictions are always fun to make before a season just to see if maybe one or two of them come true in the end. There’s no doubt that my predictions are bold and likely won’t come true, but the SEC has proven to be a league, especially in basketball, where anything can happen. I’ve broken these predictions into three categories and then one bonus prediction.
Your Typical “Bold” Predictions
There will be 5 SEC teams in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. I said in an earlier post that three teams in the NCAA tournament is likely for the SEC and four could reasonably happen. I said five would be surpassing expectations, but I still think it could happen. Kentucky will be a high seed most likely and then Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina could possibly join them.
Auburn and Alabama will both finish in the top half of the SEC. Alabama has been picked in the top half of the SEC by quite a few people and I’m not the only one that thinks Auburn could potentially be dangerous if the young talent grows up quick and surpasses low expectations. However, with massive recruiting class coming next year for both programs, it would be a big improvement for both teams from the state to be in the top seven of the SEC standings at the end of the year.
South Carolina will finish top three in the league. Everyone seems to be counting Frank Martin and the Gamecocks out as one of the top teams this season. They ran the table on a very weak non-conference schedule last season and then declined throughout SEC play. This season I think Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice could give Frank Martin enough talent to lead the Gamecocks through a tougher non-conference schedule and to a better record in league play.
Skip Bayless Would Be Proud
Kentucky will not win the SEC championship. I’m going to make this slightly more likely by saying that Kentucky will not have sole possession of the SEC regular season championship and tournament championship. The Wildcats are by far the best team in the league, but that’s been said many times before. There may not appear to be a solid second team this season, but Florida, Texas A&M, or another team could step up and take the title away from Kentucky if things go wrong in Lexington.
The SEC will win the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Last year this would have been an even bolder prediction, but it’s still no secret that the Big 12 is a much better basketball conference than the SEC. However, I think there are a few favorable matchups for the SEC and with Kentucky hosting Kansas, the SEC could come out as the better of the best each conference has to offer. If I picked it now, Florida beats Oklahoma on the road, Tennessee takes care of Kansas State at home, Georgia handles Texas at home, Vanderbilt defends their home court against Iowa State, Arkansas escapes with a win at Oklahoma State, Kentucky beats Kansas, and Auburn wraps it up with a win at TCU.
Three SEC teams will make it to the Sweet 16. Last season the SEC only put one team in the Sweet 16, but it wasn’t the Kentucky Wildcats. This season I think the teams that the league can get into the tournament will be battle tested and underrated. Kentucky will be really good, Texas A&M can return, and Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt could be built to make a run if they make the original field of 68.
Luke Kornet will be the SEC Player of the Year. Maybe it’s because he’s a computer science major, but I’ve always been a fan of Luke Kornet on the basketball court. This season I think he’ll make the most of his 7’1” frame and bring his shooting numbers back up. He’ll lead the Dores in scoring and will also add double digit rebounds and more than five blocks per game.
What Kind of Drugs Are You On?
Georgia will have more 1st team All-SEC players than Kentucky. I think it’s a reasonable possibility that both J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten could make the first team, but that would also mean that Kentucky has just one player voted to the team. I expect big things from Frazier and Maten, but for that many of Kentucky’s prospects to turn out to be overrated would be quite the storyline this season.
Missouri will lose every game in the SEC. This may not seem that bold, but with a few other teams near the bottom of the league, it would be very, very hard to lose every single game. Missouri might be the underdog in every game they play this season, but an upset or two almost always happens. KenPom has Missouri projected to win five games in the SEC and I’m saying that will be five too high.
Johnny Jones won’t be coaching LSU before the end of the season. It’s not bold to think that this could be Johnny Jones’ last season in the SEC but I’m making the prediction that he’ll be gone before March. Football is a different story in Baton Rouge, but the Tigers still showed they aren’t afraid to fire a coach mid-season and Les Miles was much better at his job than his basketball counterpart.
As more and more pre-season picks come out and other people write their pre-season previews it looks like some of my other predictions before this could be considered bold. I still wanted to take the time to come up with some truly bold statements in hopes that some come true as we enjoy yet another crazy SEC basketball season. Think my predictions aren’t bold enough or won’t ever happen? Do you have bold predictions of your own that I missed? Let me know on Twitter. I’d love to get some good discussion going with the season tipping off tomorrow night.