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SEC Power Rankings and Open Discussion

Version 9 unveils a new #1 team in the SEC

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Since we started this series for Year 2, there’s been 1 team at the top of it... until this week. Hello folks and welcome back to another edition of SEC Power Rankings! As always, leave your thoughts below in the comments of what you think but after this weekend’s games, this is where I have everyone for now.

1. Kentucky: 21-4 (10-2)

Last Week: Lost to #19 LSU 73-71, Beat #1 Tennessee 86-69

This Week: Tonight at Missouri, Saturday vs. Auburn

If you look at the standings, Kentucky sits 3rd right now. But let’s be honest: after Saturday, who’s truly the best team in the league right now?

Yes, Kentucky lost at home to LSU on Tuesday, on a play that’s been extremely controversial over the last week. While if you look at it from different angles, it’s hard to make a conclusive decision but one thing’s for sure, how some end of game plays aren’t reviewable, particularly goaltending, is a head scratcher (isn’t everything reviewable?)

BUT right now, if I had to pick a team that can do the most damage in March, it’s these Cats. Kentucky turned a Top 5 matchup into a one-sided game out hustling, out-rebounding and flat out beating Tennessee at their own game. They earned that win over the Vols on Saturday night.

2. Tennessee: 23-2 (11-1)

Last Week: Beat South Carolina 85-73, Lost to #5 Kentucky 86-69

This Week: Wednesday vs. Vanderbilt, Saturday at LSU

I’ve had Saturday’s night game against Kentucky as a loss for now and it’s probably what Tennessee needed to re-focus and get ready for the stretch run. A 19 game winning streak is nothing to be ashamed of. But Saturday was the beginning of a brutal 7 game stretch where 6 of their opponents will be in the NCAA Tournament. I think Tennessee will be just fine. Everything is still in front of the Vols and they get Kentucky on their home court next Saturday to try and get some revenge. The only one not, is their next opponent Vandy before a showdown in Baton Rouge on Saturday morning. (Why is this game at 11AM ESPN?)

3. LSU 21-4 (11-1)

Last Week: Beat #5 Kentucky 73-71, Beat Georgia 83-79

This Week: Wednesday vs. Florida, Saturday vs. Tennessee

LSU had been the team in the SEC that was flying under most people’s radars. Not anymore.

The Bayou Bengals hung in there with Kentucky all night long and were able to have the last possession of the game and cashed it in. A big reason LSU won that game was the play of Emmitt Williams off the bench. With Naz Reid in foul trouble, Williams stepped up and scored 12 and helped LSU get through the part of the game Reid had to sit on the bench. LSU’s legit ya’ll! In a game that had to be a letdown, they were able to get by Georgia and now get a 3 game homestand with Florida and Tennessee calling Baton Rouge this week.

4. Ole Miss: 18-7 (8-4)

Last Week: Beat Auburn 60-55, Beat Missouri 75-65

This Week: Tonight at South Carolina, Saturday vs. Georgia

I know Tennessee has been incredible this year, but Kermit Davis should win SEC Coach of the Year, hands down. What he’s done with this Ole Miss team that was picked to finish LAST in the SEC this year is remarkable. Ole Miss matched up well with Auburn, they slowed the game down, and made dagger 3 after dagger 3. As frustrating as that game was for Auburn fans, it’s a testament to Ole Miss for executing the game-plan. They still have Tennessee and Kentucky, both in Oxford, on their schedule but I think the rest of their games are winnable and I see this being the team that ends up with the 4 seed in the SEC Tournament.

5. South Carolina: 13-12 (8-4)

Last Week: Lost to Tennessee 85-73, Beat Texas A&M 84-77

This Week: Tonight vs. Ole Miss, Saturday at Mississippi State

These Roosters simply won’t go away. They put up a respectable showing in Knoxville before coming home and knocking off the Aggies at home. While I still think they have to win the SEC Tournament to make the Big Dance, give credit to Frank Martin for keeping hold of this team after a 5-7 non-conference season.

6. Mississippi State: 18-7 (6-6)

Last Week: Beat Alabama 81-62, Beat Arkansas 77-67

This Week: Wednesday at Georgia, Saturday vs. South Carolina

After 2 tough losses the week before, the Bulldogs took care of business this past week. Blowing out Alabama was a big win for them before going into Bud Walton and knocking off the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs did lose Nick Weatherspoon this week due to suspension and we’ll see how that affects Mississippi State in the long-term.

7. Auburn: 17-8 (6-6)

Last Week: Lost to Ole Miss 60-55, Beat Vanderbilt 64-53

This Week: Wednesday vs. Arkansas, Saturday at Kentucky

Another 1-1 week on the Plains. Honestly, I was more concerned about the Vandy game because of our road woes and not so much Ole Miss. Credit to the Rebels. They executed their gameplan perfectly while Auburn suddenly forgot how to play offense.

Auburn HAD to win at Vanderbilt considering how they’ve played on the road, Vandy’s record and a shot in the arm was really needed. The offense wasn’t great but Auburn got the contributions from the Big 3 (Harper, Brown, Okeke) and also got 13 points from Malik Dunbar off the bench. While the offense was a struggle this past week, Auburn’s defense was on point (except at the end of shot clocks against Ole Miss).

After Saturday, I can’t help but wonder if Dunbar shouldn’t start at the 3 going forward or continue to be that sparkplug Auburn needs off the bench. Auburn also needs to get Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore going. They also have to rebound the basketball better as the Tigers got hammered on the boards Saturday. Still, winning at a place you haven’t won at in 19 years is cause for celebration.

Looking ahead, Auburn has to take care business at home Wednesday that they didn’t last week before a daunting task playing at Rupp Arena on Saturday. I have realistic expectations for that one but beating Arkansas is a must.

8. Florida: 14-11 (6-6)

Last Week: Beat Vanderbilt 66-57, Beat Alabama 71-53

This Week: Wednesday at LSU, Saturday vs. Missouri

Okay Florida, I see you. In a series that has defied all expectations the last two years, Florida returned the favor Alabama did last year and blew out the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. After knocking off Vanderbilt earlier in the week, perhaps the Gators are moving in the right direction?

9. Alabama: 15-10 (6-6)

Last Week: Lost to Mississippi State 81-62, Lost to Florida 71-53

This Week: Tonight at Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Vanderbilt

Not a good week for the Tide. They fell by 19 against Mississippi State and had a chance to knock another bubble team off at home Saturday. They failed miserably. It’s imperative for Alabama to win their 2 games this weekend, especially at home against Vandy Saturday.

10. Arkansas: 14-11 (5-7)

Last Week: Lost to Missouri 79-78, Lost to Mississippi State 77-67

This Week: Wednesday at Auburn, Saturday vs. Texas A&M

The Hogs come into Auburn on a 3 game losing streak, losing to both Missouri and Mississippi State this past week. We’ll have more on Arkansas as the week progresses.

11. Missouri: 12-12 (3-9)

Last Week: Beat Arkansas 79-78, Lost to Ole Miss 75-65

This Week: Tonight vs. Kentucky, Saturday at Florida

Missouri’s been fairly competitive in their losses here lately and they got rewarded by getting 1-point win over their border state rivals last Wednesday. Ultimately, this team just turns the ball over way too much. Kentucky comes into tonight off the high of knocking off Tennessee. If Mizzou can play their A game, who knows?

12. Texas A&M: 10-14 (3-9)

Last Week: Beat Georgia 73-56, Lost to South Carolina 84-77

This Week: Tonight vs. Alabama, Saturday at Arkansas

Texas A&M took care of business against Georgia before falling narrowly to South Carolina. The Aggies get a chance to knock off Bama for the 2nd time tonight.

13. Georgia: 10-15 (1-11)

Last Week: Lost to Texas A&M 73-56, Lost to #19 LSU 83-79

This Week: Wednesday vs. Mississippi State, Saturday at Ole Miss

Georgia essentially no-showed in College Station but gave LSU much more of a game than I thought they would. The struggles in Athens continues.

14. Vanderbilt: 9-16 (0-12)

Last Week: Lost to Florida 66-57, Lost to Auburn 64-53

This Week: Wednesday at Tennessee, Saturday at Alabama

Having watched Vandy up close on Saturday, that was painful to watch. To me, their offense has absolutely no rhythm or flow to it and that’s why the SEC has been so unkind to the Commodores. Aaron Nesmith was great in both games last week but got absolutely no help from Saben Lee and Simisola Shittu. Shittu was a non-factor in the Auburn game and fouled out with 8 minutes left. It doesn’t get any easier this week having to travel to Knoxville to play a motivated Vols team.