Welcome folks, to theBRKDWN’s inaugural SEC Hoops Power Rankings! Every Monday, myself and my good pal — and fellow SEC basketball fanatic — Lincoln Ottersbach, (@NotAnOtterBox on Twitter) will be releasing our SEC Power Rankings.
The opening of conference play was fairly successful, with only one game being postponed out of the entire slate. We had some big matchups between contenders, some surprising performances from unlikely players and plenty of entertaining games. So without further adieu, let’s get into the rankings!
14. South Carolina Gamecocks (2-2, 0-0 SEC) (LW: 13)
Last Week: W vs. Florida A&M 78-71
This Week: vs. Texas A&M (Jan. 6), @ Ole Miss (Jan. 9)
Frank Martin’s squad was finally able to return to play for the first time since Dec. 5 and get in a tune up game against Florida A&M. I’m not sure how they’ll handle their first action in conference play, but they face two of the lower-tier teams so it’ll be a good litmus test to see where they actually belong in the rankings.
13. Vanderbilt Commodores (4-3, 0-1 SEC) (LW: 11)
Last Week: L vs. Florida 72-91
This Week: @ Kentucky (Jan. 5), vs. Mississippi State (Jan. 9)
It wasn’t much of a surprise to see Vandy drop their conference opener to Florida, but I thought they might have been able to make it a closer game than it turned out to be. A trip to Lexington to face Kentucky will likely tell us more about the Cats than Vandy, but Mississippi State will be a good measuring stick for Scotty Pippen Jr. and co.
12. Georgia Bulldogs (7-1, 0-1 SEC) (LW: 8)
Last Week: L vs. Mississippi State 73-83
This Week: @ LSU (Jan. 6), @ Arkansas (Jan. 9)
This was probably to be expected, but Georgia wasn’t able to keep up the charade of an undefeated non-conference schedule once they finally had to play some P5 competition. The Bulldogs have two tough tests coming this week, and I don’t expect them to pull off any surprises on the road against two contenders in the league.
11. Auburn Tigers (6-4, 0-2 SEC) (LW: 7)
Last Week: L vs. Arkansas 85-97, L @ Texas A&M 66-68
This Week: @ Ole Miss (Jan. 6), vs. Alabama (Jan. 9)
It was an unimpressive start to conference play for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers. They’ll follow up the winless week with a trip to Ole Miss, which should be a good test of where this young squad truly stands, but they’ll need to get a win to move back toward the middle of the pack.
10. Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-4) (LW: 10)
Last Week: W @ Georgia 83-73, L vs. Kentucky 73-78 F/2OT
This Week: vs. #13 Missouri (Jan. 5), @ Vanderbilt (Jan. 9)
State stays in the same spot after a split week with a win against a bad Georgia team and a double overtime loss at home against Kentucky. Nothing impressive out of the Bulldogs, but it’s a little concerning they allowed Kentucky to shoot 52 percent from 3 after they had only hit 25 percent of the time prior to the game. I’d expect another split week for them this time around, but the Vandy game will show if they need to fall a little lower.
9. Ole Miss Rebels (5-3, 0-1 SEC) (LW: 6)
Last Week: L @ Alabama 64-82, L vs. Wichita State 79-83
This Week: vs. Auburn (Jan. 6), vs. South Carolina (Jan. 9)
Ole Miss came out with a disappointing start to conference play and, like the football team, showed no sign of playing any defense. This week’s matchups will show us where they truly stand in the conference, as they should at least finish the week 1-1. The defense will need to step up if they want to make any moves up the ranks.
8. Texas A&M Aggies (6-2, 1-1 SEC) (LW: 9)
Last Week: L @ LSU 54-77, W vs. Auburn 68-66
This Week: @ South Carolina (Jan. 6), vs. #9 Tennessee (Jan. 9)
The Aggies almost found a way to blow their only win of the week, allowing Auburn to erase an 11 point halftime lead, but were able to squeak one out. The effort against LSU was disappointing for fans wanting to see A&M try to take the next step, but they’ll remain in the bottom half of the rankings until they prove they can beat a contender.
7. Kentucky Wildcats (2-6, 1-0 SEC) (LW: 14)
Last Week: W @ Mississippi State 78-73 F/2OT
This Week: vs. Vanderbilt (Jan. 5), @ Florida (Jan. 9)
Kentucky was able to open conference play with a win at Mississippi State after going winless through the entire month of December. The Cats were able to turn their shooting woes around — going 11 of 21 as a team from three — thanks in large part to a surprising 23 point performance by redshirt freshman Dontaie Allen on 7 of 11 3-pointers. I don’t expect 50 percent-plus from three in every game from Kentucky, but finding a consistent shooter in the rotation will certainly help turn the season around.
6. Arkansas Razorbacks (9-1, 1-1 SEC) (LW: 5)
Last Week: W @ Auburn 97-85, L vs. #12 Missouri 68-81
This Week: @ #9 Tennessee (Jan. 6), vs. Georgia (Jan. 9)
Arkansas continues to lead the SEC in scoring, averaging 88.5 points per game, but showed some chinks in the armour in the loss to #12 Missouri. The Razorbacks shot an abysmal 27 percent from the field, but I don’t see many of those performances coming through the rest of conference play. We’ll see how they handle a trip to Knoxville and the Vols stifling defense, but they’ll need to be competitive in order to be considered true contenders.
5. LSU Tigers (6-2, 1-1 SEC) (LW: 4)
Last Week: W vs. Texas A&M 77-54, L @ Florida 79-83
This Week: vs. Georgia (Jan. 6), @ #13 Missouri (Jan. 9)
It was a polarizing week defensively for the Tigers. It started with a stifling performance against A&M followed by a lackluster one against a Keyontae Johnson-less Florida team. The lackluster performance is nothing new for LSU fans, but efforts like the one against Florida are what is keeping LSU from being a true contender. The offense, led by Cameron Thomas — who poured in 32 and 28 this week — and Trendon Watford, is one of the nations best, but the defense will need to improve to move up the ranks.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-3) (LW: 12)
Last Week: W vs. Ole Miss 82-64, W @ #7 Tennessee 71-63
This Week: vs. Florida (Jan. 5), @ Auburn (Jan. 9)
Alabama fans might not even know their basketball team is playing yet, but they followed suit with the football team in dominating the week. Jahvon Quinerly and John Petty Jr. carried the Tide to a 2-0 week with a dominant win against Ole Miss and a shocking victory at Tennessee. It will be interesting to see if they can carry the momentum into this week, but they’re by far the biggest riser this week.
3. #13 Missouri Tigers (7-1, 1-1 SEC) (LW: 1)
Last Week: L vs. #7 Tennessee 53-73, W @ Arkansas 81-68
This Week: @ Mississippi State (Jan. 5), vs. LSU (Jan. 9)
Mizzou wasn’t able to hang with Tennessee in their conference opener, but the performance wasn’t enough to drop them far down the rankings. The Tigers closed out the week holding Arkansas, the highest scoring team in the SEC, to 27 percent shooting from the field and cruised to a double-digit road victory. Hosting LSU this weekend will be another litmus test, but Mizzou is still a strong contender for a league title.
2. #9 Tennessee Volunteers (7-1) (LW: 2)
Last Week: W @ #12 Missouri 73-53, L vs. Alabama 63-71
This Week: vs. Arkansas (Jan. 6), @ Texas A&M (Jan. 9)
Tennessee is coming off an extremely polarizing week of hoops after dominating #12 Missouri on the road, then following it up with a bad loss at home against Alabama. The defense was on fire at Missouri, forcing 24 turnovers five blocks, and limiting the Tigers to shoot 36 percent from the field. The same could not be said against Alabama, when the Tide shot 50 percent from three and only turned it over 12 times. The Vols have probably the best roster in the SEC, but they’ll need to avoid the polarizing weeks to win the SEC.
1. Florida Gators (5-1) (LW: 3)
Last Week: W @ Vanderbilt 91-72, W vs. LSU 83-79
This Week: @ Alabama (Jan. 5), vs. Kentucky (Jan. 9)
Florida may not be as talented as Tennessee at the moment, but it’s hard to argue against them in the top spot with their performances from last week. Without their best player, they managed to dominate Vandy on the road and handle a solid LSU team more straightforward than the final score might indicate. If Colin Castleton can continue to shoulder the scoring load until Keyontae Johnson returns to play, the Gators can compete with anyone in the conference.
That will complete the rankings for this week, check back with us next Monday to see who rises and falls after another week of action! Follow us on Twitter @brkdwn_sports for more great sports and gambling content!
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