The regular season is finished, but there is still a little more business to tend to before March Madness officially begins. The SEC tournament begins in St. Louis on Wednesday, and it could be one of the most intriguing and drama-filled renditions the conference has ever seen. The league is as good top to bottom as it has been in years, possibly ever. There is not a dominant team at the top, but every team has the ability to beat anyone on a given night. This should make the SEC tournament as competitive and unpredictable as it has ever been. Here are the SEC power rankings as the postseason begins.
SEC Basketball Power Rankings
Player of the Year – Bryce Brown – Auburn Tigers
Bryce Brown has been the spark he gives the Auburn Tigers life all season. His ability to get red hot offensively means the Tigers are never out of a game. He scored 29 points this weekend Auburn secured its first SEC regular season title since 1999. Brown averaged 16.4 points per game and shot 39% from three on the season.
1. Tennessee Volunteers – 23-7 (13-5)
While Auburn will be the top seed in the SEC tournament, the Vols may be the best team in the league right now. Coach Rick Barnes’ team has won 11 of its last 13 games, including four in a row to end the season. This is the physically strongest team in the NCAA, led by the brute force of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. Tennessee is a relentless team defensively, their pressure and effort never wavered. The Vols also have multiple guys who can break out for a big scoring night. The combination of tough defense and balanced scoring will make them a tough match-up in St. Louis and beyond.
2. Auburn Tigers – 25-6 (13-5)
Bruce Pearl joined Eddie Fogler as the only coaches to win the SEC title at two different schools on Saturday. The job he has done on the Plains is remarkable. The Tigers are led by their trio of guards and have found ways to overcome its front-court issues all season. Freshman Chuma Okeke has stepped his game up since Anfernee McLemore went down with an injury. He could be a key to a March run for this team, as they will need to balance out their stellar guard play with some post production.
3. Florida Gators – 20-11 (11-7)
The Gators are one of the most perplexing teams in the country. When they are hitting shots, they can beat anyone. When they are not making those shots, they look like they could lose to anyone. Florida picked up its defense over the last few weeks, but they are not where Coach Mike White wants them yet. The Gators rely on their talented backcourt. Chris Chiozza became the school’s all-time assists leader over the weekend. KeVaughn Allen could be the key to this team. He has not shot as well this season, but if he can get hot this team can be a handful in the postseason.
4. Kentucky Wildcats – 21-10 (10-8)
The Wildcats are once again equal parts talented and young. They responded to a four-game losing streak in the middle of SEC play to win four of their last five games. Kevin Knox leads this team with 15.7 points per game and has become their go to scorer. The Wildcats struggle shooting from beyond the arc, but when they are hitting threes they can play with anyone. Like most young teams, their success usually hinges on their attention to detail on the defensive end of the court. The Wildcats always seem to play great in the SEC tournament.
5. Arkansas Razorbacks – 21-10 (10-8)
The Razorbacks have had yet another solid season under Mike Anderson. Their backcourt tandem of Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon is as explosive as any pair of guards in the country. The two combine for 35 points and 6 assists a game between them. Freshman big man Daniel Gafford is a dunking machine in the paint. The 6’10” Pogo stick is averaging 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per contest. The fast-paced Razorbacks score over 80 points a night.
6. Missouri Tigers – 20-11 (10-8)
The Tigers’ season took a big hit in the first game when star freshman Michael Porter Jr. went down with an injury. However, their balance of inside and outside scoring combined with tough defense has allowed them to take a big step forward. Freshman Jontay Porter has filled in his brother’s shoes nicely, averaging 10 points and seven boards. Graduate transfer Kassius Robertson has been a great addition, scoring 16.5 points a night.
7. Texas A&M Aggies – 20-11 (9-9)
The Aggies were great in the non-conference but started SEC play 0-5. They were able to regroup and finish with a 9-9 conference record. Their tandem of big men, Tyler Davis and Robert Williams, is a good as any in the country. Inconsistent guard play has been their issue all season and will determine how far they can go in March. The Aggies have won three straight games heading into the SEC Tournament.
8. Mississippi State Bulldogs 21-10 (9-9)
The Bulldogs have taken tremendous strides throughout this season and were on track to possibly sneak in the NCAA tournament. They have lost their last two ballgames, and because of their weak non-conference schedule now look destined for an NIT bid instead. Nick and Quinndary Weatherspoon lead this team, the brothers combine to average 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.
9. Alabama Crimson Tide – 17-14 (8-10)
The Tide were rolling along towards an NCAA bid until their current five-game losing streak had them come crashing back down to Earth. The Tide can beat anyone, as their wins over Tennessee, Auburn, and Oklahoma showed. The problem is the effort and execution are so inconsistent that they have not been able to sustain success. Barring a run in the SEC tournament, this team appears to be headed to the NIT, when just a few weeks ago they had much bigger goals.
10. South Carolina Gamecocks – 16-15 (7-11)
Coach Frank Martin did all he could this season to bring this team together. With only three players returning from last year’s Final Four run it was difficult to find cohesion and leadership all season. The team revolved around Chris Silva and his 14 points and 8 rebounds a night. Graduate transfer Frank Booker endeared himself to Gamecock fans with his shooting and hustle. Turnovers and missed shots in the paint were too common an occurrence this season.
11. LSU Tigers – 17-13 (8-10)
The Tigers took a nice step forward in Will Wade’s first season. Freshman guard Tremont Waters is a legit star. He averaged 15.6 points and 6 assists per game. Senior Duop Reath had a solid end to his LSU career and was second on the team with 12.5 points a contest. This team has a good chance at an NIT bid, barring some smaller conference champs being upset in their tournaments.
Looking To Next Year
12. Georgia Bulldogs – 16-14 (7-11)
The Bulldogs could never find someone to pair with their star Yante Maten. He was their only double-figure scorer with 19.4 points and 8.38 rebounds a game. His lack of help led to Georgia struggling down the stretch. Coach Mark Fox has seen this pattern unfold all too often, and he is on the hot seat in Athens because of it.
13. Vanderbilt Commodores – 12-19 (6-12)
The Commodores could never get any sustained momentum this season. Despite some good wins, they could not string together enough positive results to have a good season. The team struggles aside, Jeff Roberson had a great senior season with 17 points and 7 rebounds each night.
14. Ole Miss Rebels – 12-19 (5-13)
Coach Andy Kennedy, the winningest coach in school history, stepped down with four games to go. The Rebels just didn’t have the talent, especially in the post, to compete in a much improved SEC this season. Erratic shooting and inconsistent defensive effort haunted this team all season long.