The 2018 SEC basketball product, albeit vastly improved, has been peak SEC Basketball fever. Vanderbilt beat Alabama, Ole Miss beat Missouri and Florida, South Carolina beat Florida, Texas A&M went from being a contender to a train wreck to a contender, before becoming a hot mess again. Auburn, smack in the middle of an FBI investigation, is going to win the SEC, after being predicted as a glorified doormat, with two five-stars suspended. And Kentucky, oh Kentucky. They were left for dead, and then they beat Alabama by 10, before going to Arkansas and trouncing the Razorbacks, who have been a thorn in Kentucky’s side.
What I’m trying to say is that the conference is bi-polar, I think. Anyways, I’m not a doctor, so I will just dive into the Power Rankings.
Firmly in the Double-Bye Seat
1) Auburn 2) Tennessee
Auburn is going to win the SEC, and Tennessee just needs to win one more game to lock up a spot, which should be manageable, their next game is cellar-dweller Ole Miss.
Teams Vying for the Final Two Double-Byes
3) Florida 4) Alabama 5) Missouri
6) Kentucky 7) Arkansas 8) Mississippi State
I’m going to start by saying two things: 1) this is ridiculous; all six teams have an identical conference record. The final stretch is going to be insane. 2) When torn on two teams, I used wins vs top-25 opponents and head-to-head.
If Florida and Alabama could ever find any consistency, they would be a problem to deal with, especially in the tournament. Missouri is like the little engine that could; they just keep on keeping on, for the most part. Kentucky was supposed to be doomed, right? Then they rattled off wins over Arkansas and Alabama. The Cats will be a problem in the NCAA tournament. Arkansas is dangerous, but they can’t seem to find the nasty streak you would expect from a coach, Mike Anderson, who is a Nolan Richardson disciple. Mississippi State can upset someone if the Brothers Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters catch fire, which is totally believable, but somehow the Bulldogs are below Texas A&M and Georgia in bracketology, despite beating both.
Just Kind of Okay
9) LSU 10) Texas A&M 11) Georgia 12) South Carolina
WHY ARE BOTH GEORGIA AND TEXAS A&M AHEAD OF MISSISSIPPI STATE IN BRACKETOLOGY? In the last month, Mississippi State has only lost two games, both in brutal fashion. Meanwhile, Texas A&M has three consecutive losses, and Georgia has lost four of six. A&M is still being rewarded for games dating back prior to conference play, which is absurd; they are not the same team anymore. LSU beat Texas A&M twice and has a better conference record, so they are going above the Aggies. South Carolina has shown flashes of both being good and being absolutely atrocious.
13) Vanderbilt 14) Ole Miss
Vanderbilt has a good recruiting class, and they didn’t just lose their winningest head coach in program history. Advantage Vanderbilt.
Who can make noise in the NCAA Tournament?
- Kentucky 2. Florida 3. Alabama 4. Tennessee 5. Missouri 6. Arkansas
These are the teams I expect to be able to make noise in the tournament. I think Auburn is headed for an early exit. They just don’t have the necessary depth. Of course, this means they’re going to the Final Four.
As for Kentucky, I’ve seen this movie before. A struggling Wildcats team makes it to the Round of 32 against some unlucky mid-major (currently set up to be Gonzaga), which springboards an Elite Eight trip.
Alabama has Collin Sexton, Missouri could get Michael Porter Jr. back, Tennessee plays as a team, Arkansas has potentially lethal guard play, and Florida has Chris Chiozza.
SEC Player of the Year (POTY) Race
- Yante Maten
- Collin Sexton
- Chris Chiozza
Yes, in that order, as of right now. How the SEC standings turn out in regards to seeding (looking at you Florida and Alabama) could decide this one, unless Maten just goes bananas in the final three games – he’s already averaging 19.3 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game.
ESPN Bracketology can be found here.
SEC Basketball player statistics are here.