One undefeated SEC team remains…and it’s not the Kentucky Wildcats. Frank Martin has South Carolina as the last remaining unbeaten SEC basketball team for a second straight year, but how long can it last? Like I mentioned in my post for this week’s top 25 rankings, I didn’t get to watch a ton of basketball this week, but I didn’t miss a whole lot in the SEC landscape.
As football season is coming to a close, hopefully more SEC fans will start to turn their attention to basketball. To aid in that process, I’m going to start adding a summary of each of the 14 SEC basketball team’s previous week. Even as an avid college basketball fan, I find it hard to keep up with every result, so I’m sure even those of you that enjoy SEC basketball will enjoy the added information. It should also help some of you to form better arguments when you challenge my rankings.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
Last Week: L vs UCLA (92-97)
Yes, Kentucky suffered a loss at home that they probably shouldn’t have, but I’m not going to pretend that UCLA isn’t better than every other team in the SEC. Kentucky is still the best team in the league, but UCLA proved they’re not perfect. Last week I was starting to discuss the idea of a long undefeated run for the Wildcats, but it looks like I can put that to rest.
2. South Carolina Gamecocks
Last Week: W vs Vermont (68-50), W vs FIU (70-54)
South Carolina remained undefeated this week, but over the weekend they learned that Sindarius Thornwell, the Gamecocks’ leading rebounder and scorer, has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of Athletic Department rules. This didn’t seem to make a huge difference against a bad FIU team, but this could be an issue going forward for South Carolina if Thornwell has to miss significant time.
3. Florida Gators
Last Week: W @ North Florida (91-60)
Florida is inching closer and closer to the Gamecocks in my mind. A 31 point win on the road proved to me that the Gators’ offense can be good enough to make this a great team. This week Florida has a huge opportunity as they get to play Duke on a neutral court. Duke is still trying to figure out their lineup with some of the high caliber freshmen starting to get into the action. Florida could take advantage of this and get a massive win for themselves and the SEC.
4. Texas A&M Aggies
Last Week: W vs Texas A&M CC (86-69)
After UCLA knocked off Kentucky at home, the Aggies’ neutral court loss to the Bruins doesn’t look bad at all. Texas A&M now has a couple of easier games leading up to their matchup with a depleted Arizona team in a week and a half. The Aggies still have the best front-court in the SEC, but if they guards can get going, the Aggies still have potential to be the second most talented team in the league.
5. Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: W vs Stephen F. Austin (78-62), W vs Austin Peay (99-62)
Arkansas got two decent wins this week to remain undefeated at home. While coming one point away from triple digits against Austin Peay, Arkansas got double digit scoring from five different players, including a team high 14 points from freshman Adrio Bailey. I still would like to see Dusty Hannahs and Moses Kingsley step it up a little bit for the Razorbacks, but if they can, then Arkansas is a very serious threat as a top team in the SEC.
6. Auburn Tigers
Last Week: W vs USC Upstate (90-83), W @ UAB (74-70)
After a sluggish game against USC Upstate where Auburn almost let the Spartans back in the game towards the end, I was ready to drop Auburn in my rankings this week. Instead, the Tigers responded with a good effort in front of a sold out Bartow Arena when they knocked off the UAB Blazers for the second year in a row. Now Auburn gets three winnable games next and could be getting significantly better by the end of the week…
7. Georgia Bulldogs
Last Week: W vs Morehouse (86-72), L vs Marquette (79-89)
I truly don’t know what to think about this Georgia team anymore. Sometimes they play like a top 4 team in the SEC and other times they look like they could be a bottom 4 team. Georgia should be a team good enough to beat a D2 team by more than 14 points at home. The attempted blackout against Marquette and the loss that followed surely didn’t help the Bulldogs cause this week. Like a lot of teams over the next few weeks, the Bulldogs have plenty of time to figure things out in practice and against weaker opponents. For the SEC’s sake, hopefully the good Georgia team shows up from here on out.
8. LSU Tigers
Last Week: W vs Houston (84-65)
Can LSU possibly be a good team this season? They actually looked like one in a big home win over a good Houston team on Tuesday. Antonio Blakeney took a few too many shots, but he finished with 23 points and keeps reminding people that he has the talent to carry this LSU team this season. If others like Brandon Sampson and Craig Victor can step up around Blakeney then LSU might be able to rise above the cellars of the SEC, despite still having Johnny Jones as their head coach.
9. Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: W vs Charleston Southern (76-46), L @ Texas (68-77)
Contrary to Auburn, Alabama looked really good with their cupcake this week and after those games I was ready to move the Tide up my rankings. Heading into their game with Texas, Alabama also had an opportunity to get a good road win over a struggling Longhorns team. Alabama played good enough in the first half but ultimately suffered a lousy second half collapse and allowed Texas to come back from a 12 point halftime deficit to win by 9. Alabama’s defense is still one of the best in the league, but they desperately need a goto scorer that can takeover when other teams go on runs or the rest of the offense just goes flat.
10. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Last Week: W vs Oregon State (74-57), W vs Georgia State (82-60)
Well, we thought Quinndary Weatherspoon was out for the year and it was looking like Mississippi State’s season was practically over before it even got fully started. Instead, Weatherspoon has decided to postpone surgery and will try to play this season. The Bulldogs are certainly a much better team with Weatherspoon suiting up. After losing to Lehigh and narrowly escaping Northwestern State without Q, the Bulldogs were able to easily handle both Oregon State and Georgia State this week. Now if the rest of this young talented team can start to step up, Mississippi State could climb back up the rankings as long as Weatherspoon stays healthy.
11. Tennessee Volunteers
Last Week: W vs Georgia Tech (81-58)
After returning home from Maui, Tennessee got their best win of the early season with a 23 point victory over the worst team in the ACC. It sounds bad, but a win over any ACC team is almost always a victory for the SEC as well. Tennessee is able to get their season back in the right direction and they’ll need to figure things out quickly as they travel to face North Carolina this Sunday in a game that could quickly get ugly.
12. Ole Miss Rebels
Last Week: L vs Middle Tennessee (62-77), W vs Memphis (85-77)
In the first half against Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss was getting completely shot out of the gym. The Rebels were able to turn their week around from that point on by digging into the Blue Raiders’ lead and then following the partial comeback with a good home win over Memphis. Ole Miss showed signs of a decent basketball team, but they’ll need to avoid getting too far behind if they want to not stay at the bottom of the league once SEC play rolls around.
13. Vanderbilt Commodores
Last Week: W vs Tennessee State (83-59), L vs Minnesota (52-56)
Vanderbilt is by far the team I misjudged the most coming into this season. With the returning talent of Luke Kornet and crew I really thought Vanderbilt could remain a top team in the SEC with Bryce Drew at the helm. Instead, the Commodores have been an embarrassment for the SEC and there’s no sign of a turnaround. Beating Tennessee State put a short delay on the bleeding, but Vandy promptly followed that up with a lost to a Minnesota team that is playing well this season but still has a little bit to go.
14. Missouri Tigers
Last Week: W vs Western Kentucky (59-56)
A win over Western Kentucky puts adds another one to the win column, but it’s not a sign that Missouri is getting any better. Missouri will have to do a lot over the remaining non-conference schedule to convince me they won’t finish at the very bottom of the SEC again this season.
As most teams are heading into finals week, there won’t be many games this week. There are a few key matchups this weekend, but then most teams get a week of rest with easy games here and there. Unless something major happens this week, I might end up skipping the power rankings for next week given some teams don’t play a single game between now and next Tuesday.