The SEC regular season is in the books. At the end of the crazy season, the league managed to finish 116 different games with just 10 total games missing from the original schedule.
For the most part, Alabama has been the top team all season long, and Arkansas’s recent streak of success, including 11-straight wins in SEC play had them take over the top spot in my rankings over the final weeks, while Alabama still held onto the second spot.
Alabama and Arkansas seem to be the only sure teams going into the SEC Tournament, but teams like LSU, Missouri, and Florida could all also be dangerous if their best versions show up to play.
With all that said, enjoy my updated SEC basketball power rankings. As always, if you’d like to discuss them or have a disagreement, the best place to reach out is on Twitter. Thanks for reading.
My method for power rankings is whom I think will win a game between two teams on a neutral court if the game was played at the time of the rankings. For instance, I would pick the number one team to beat every team ranked below it on a neutral court and the fourth-ranked team would be favored over everyone other than the top three teams. I consider the entire season as a basis for how good I think the team is, but if a team is missing key players or is in a slump, that can weigh more in my current power rankings, even if a team is better overall for the season.
14. Texas A&M Aggies
Last Week: Lost vs Mississippi State 57-63, Lost at Arkansas 80-87
Texas A&M didn’t look near as rusty as I expected, and even gave Arkansas some problems for most of the game, but the Aggies still don’t look like a great team, especially against Mississippi State at home. I was impressed that they were able to put up 80 points against a good Arkansas defense, on the road nonetheless, but I still wouldn’t count on them outscoring teams in Nashville this week.
13. South Carolina Gamecocks
Last Week: Lost at Kentucky 64-92
South Carolina’s big win over Georgia was certainly an outlier as the Gamecocks ended their regular season with a massive loss on the road against Kentucky. It’s saying something about your defense when you allow Kentucky to shoot over 50% from deep and score 90+ points while emptying their bench towards the end.
12. Vanderbilt Commodores
Last Week: Lost at LSU 68-83, Lost at Ole Miss 46-56
Scotty Pippen Jr. had a massive game in his return in the non-conference game against Cincinnati, but he couldn’t get much going in his SEC regular season finale against Ole Miss and he and Dylan Disu were obviously missed against LSU. If Pippen Jr. and Disu had both finished the season healthy, Vanderbilt could have been a potentially dangerous team in their hometown at the SEC Tournament, but as of now, I don’t see them getting past the second round.
11. Georgia Bulldogs
Last Week: Lost vs Alabama 79-89
With a little bit of extra time to prepare for Alabama, it looked like Georgia might be able to pull off a major upset in the last game of the regular season as they came out and went up big on the Crimson Tide early. Instead, like in other sports, the Bulldogs just couldn’t close the deal in the second half and what started as a game where they were doubling-up Alabama ended in a double-digit loss.
I still think Georgia can be a sneaky team in Nashville, but with back-to-back losses entering the postseason, including an ugly loss to South Carolina, I’m not very confident in Georgia winning any games this week.
10. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Last Week: Won vs Texas A&M 63-57, Lost at Auburn 71-78
I might have had Mississippi State a little bit overrated last week, but they just slid up with teams like Tennessee, Auburn, and even Kentucky continuing to look questionable. All of those teams played better this week, including Auburn’s win over Mississippi State, so the Bulldogs slide back down to the bottom four. If Mississippi State can get the good defense in Nashville, and their main three of DJ Stewart Jr., Iverson Moliner, and Tolu Smith can all play well, they have the talent to make some noise, but it’s going to take almost everything going right at the same time.
9. Tennessee Volunteers
Last Week: Won vs Florida 65-54
It took a big second half, a good game from John Fulkerson, and Florida playing without Tre Mann, but Tennessee was still able to get one more win in the regular season and hang onto the 4-seed in the SEC Tournament next week. Tennessee still has a very high ceiling given their abundance of talent and experience, but they will only go as far as their offense can take them. You could tell me Tennessee finishes the year with two straight losses to open the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament, or they could win the SEC Tournament and make it deep into the NCAA Tournament and neither would really surprise me.
I’m not confident enough in the Volunteers to move them too far up these rankings again, but they still have one of the highest ceilings in the SEC thanks to the good combination of experience and young talent, along with an excellent defense.
8. Auburn Tigers
Last Week: Lost at Alabama 58-70, Won vs Mississippi State 78-71
Despite the defense showing up in Tuscaloosa, Auburn’s offense still met a dominant Alabama defense on the road and fell for a second time this season to their biggest rival, this time without Sharife Cooper. Cooper wasn’t able to play for the final game against Mississippi State either, so he ended up missing the first few and last few games for the Tigers to open and close SEC play.
Auburn won’t be playing in the postseason this year, so the long offseason begins. There are a few questions going into next year, but regardless of the answers, this team will likely be a more experienced, and even more talented team next season who will at least have one last win to look back on for the 2020-2021 season that had even more unfortunate breaks than expected.
7. Kentucky Wildcats
Last Week: Lost vs Ole Miss 62-70, Won vs South Carolina 92-64
Sure, Kentucky looked really good again to end the season against a bad South Carolina team, but other than Texas A&M and Georgia, just about every other team in the league has done the same. If Kentucky is able to shoot that well from deep in Nashville, they may once again turn the city into their home away from home, but I’m not counting on it.
6. Ole Miss Rebels
Last Week: Won vs Kentucky 70-62, Won vs Vanderbilt 56-46
The defense once again carried the Ole Miss team to two more wins to end their season, but they got a good bit of offense against Kentucky as well. Ole Miss is still a well-coached team that could pose some problems for others, especially early on, at the SEC Tournament this week. If at least two of Ole Miss’s key players put up some points, they’re going to always be a difficult team to score against, and that could give them an advantage when every game is on a neutral court.
5. Florida Gators
Last Week: Lost vs Missouri 70-72, Lost at Tennessee 54-65
Coming into this week, Florida looked like a team that was playing well enough to challenge Arkansas and Alabama at the top of the league. Instead, they dropped two close games against Missouri and Tennessee which gives them a winless start to March. Florida played the Tennessee game without one of their best players and a key piece in the backcourt, Tre Mann. Tyree Appleby stepped up well in his place, but there were many moments when the Gators just looked lost without him in the second half. Since Mann was out with just a migraine, he should be back for the SEC Tournament and Florida can hope that is just the piece they were missing and can get back to their high level of play over the previous weeks.
4. Missouri Tigers
Last Week: Won at Florida 72-70, Lost vs LSU 80-86
Missouri has the experience and skill where they will likely be in just about every game. They also have enough talent to win quite a few of those games, as they did against Florida on the road this week. While they still have one of the best resumes in college basketball, Missouri also struggles with putting teams away, and in a lot of cases, they let the other team finish strong and give up the win as they did against LSU. LSU is a good team, and even harder to beat when Cameron Thomas is scoring even more than usual. I think Missouri can be a dangerous team in Nashville and the NCAA Tournament, even if they have a lower seed than they might have been able to obtain if they didn’t drop so many close games as well.
3. LSU Tigers
Last Week: Won vs Vanderbilt 83-68, Won at Missouri 86-80
LSU finishes the regular season as just about the only team that was exactly like I expected. The Tigers finished with the same record I projected them to have and were carried by their excellent offense. I expected Trendon Watford to have the biggest role, but instead, the contribution was split more with guys like Cameron Thomas and Darius Days. As long as LSU can play remotely decent defense over the next month, they can be a dangerous team with their ability to outscore just about anyone in an average game.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: Won vs Auburn 70-58, Won at Georgia 89-79
After clinching the SEC regular season title last weekend, Alabama avoided any kind of letting up in the final two games. It was no surprise that the Crimson Tide had motivation against rival Auburn and that ended with a season sweep and the first 2-0 season against the Tigers since 2015. It looked like Alabama might have overlooked Georgia early on in that game, but the Crimson Tide eventually made a pretty quick comeback in the second half and ended up getting out of there with yet another double-digit win over the Bulldogs this season.
Alabama’s offense is still not where it was earlier in the season, but their defense is elite and that will be what carries them as far as they can go over the next month.
1. Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: Won at South Carolina 101-73, Won vs Texas A&M 87-80
Arkansas started the week with their first triple-digit performance in SEC play when they went on the road and dominated South Carolina as expected. The game against Texas A&M didn’t go quite as planned, but the Razorbacks still found a way to hang out, despite giving up 80 points to the struggling Aggie offense. I’m sure Arkansas can chalk up the less-than-ideal defensive performance on Saturday to just looking past the game and preparing for bigger things in March, but they can’t let that happen again going forward.
The Razorbacks might be the deepest team in the SEC and they’ll have any number of weapons that can step up in any given game and allow them to keep building on this 11-game SEC winning streak.