As we get nearer to the opening of March Madness, three SEC team are vying for the league championship. Look inside for this week’s SEC Basketball Power Poll.
By Steve Wright
1. Kentucky (1) – The No. 4 team in the country remains the top team in our rankings this week. The Wildcats might be behind LSU in the standings as three teams share 12-2 records, but if you had to pick a winner on a neutral court at this point it’s hard to look past Kentucky. P.J. Washington should be the SEC Player of the Year.
2. LSU (3) – The Tigers have been hanging around behind Kentucky and Tennessee all year. They move ahead of the Vols and control their own destiny in the SEC after beating Kentucky and Tennessee in the space of 11 days. To do so without Tremont Waters speaks to the talent in Baton Rouge.
3. Tennessee (2) – The Vols have slid down these rankings for two straight weeks now. It is hard to see them dropping past the No. 3 spot, but the lack of athleticism and talent outside of their big three players is a worry. Grant Williams has to be involved more than he was against LSU.
4. Mississippi State (5) – The Bulldogs have hit their stride again after close losses to LSU and Kentucky at the beginning of the month. Escaping Georgia by a point was not ideal, but that was followed up with a good 15-point win over South Carolina. The game at Auburn on Saturday is a big one for confidence heading towards postseason play.
5. Auburn (4) – I don’t care how good Kentucky is, getting blitzed by 27 points and looking entirely uncompetitive is not a good look for a team that expects to be in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Auburn needs to blow out Georgia and then win against Mississippi State to prove it still belongs this high.
6. Florida (9) – Road wins matter and the Gators picked up a couple this week. The win over Alabama isn’t as impressive as it would have been a month ago, but beating LSU in Baton Rouge is a seriously big deal. This time next week we should be talking about Florida having won six in a row as they play the 13th and 14th ranked teams in the league this week.
7. Ole Miss (7) – It was far from the most impressive week for an Ole Miss team that still needs to make some noise to look attractive in March. Getting blow out at South Carolina was far from a good look, though it’s worth noting that the Gamecocks are a nightmare to play on the road, but a one point win against Georgia is kind of mystifying.
8. South Carolina (8) – The Gamecocks just don’t feel like a team that is 9-5 in SEC play. They beat the teams you would expect and lose to the teams you would expect. It is a middling squad, albeit one that can hit the three-point shot on anyone. If they finish 13-5 in league play, as they could, then it will be interesting to see their postseason fate.
9. Alabama (6) – We just cannot justify Alabama as being in the top half of the SEC power rankings any longer. Their last good win was almost a full month ago against Mississippi State, while blowout losses and wins over Vanderbilt and Georgia is all that has followed. The Crimson Tide have played themselves way off of the bubble at this point.
10. Texas A&M (11) – We have said for a while now that Texas A&M is not a team any higher level SEC team wants to be playing at this point. The Aggies have won four of five and this week they upset Alabama before knocking off Arkansas. There are serious danger signs here for LSU as Texas A&M makes the trip to Baton Rouge to play spoiler on Tuesday night.
11. Arkansas (10) – Arkansas has dropped five in a row at the worst time of the year and the Hogs are playing some of the worst basketball in the league right now. The win over LSU seems like an age ago, with a blowout loss to Auburn this week followed by dropping a decision at home to the Aggies.
12. Missouri (12) – A couple more losses for the Tigers but they were competitive in both contests. It is no shame to lose to Kentucky by eight at this point in the season, while Mizzou game a much improved Florida tram a real scare on Saturday night. There are winnable games left on this schedule.
13. Georgia (13) – It is a good sign for Tom Crean that the Bulldogs have not given up on the season. Losing to the Mississippi schools by one point each on Wednesday and Saturday is frustrating, but with games against Missouri and at South Carolina left on the schedule there is a chance for Georgia to finish the season on a high note.
14. Vanderbilt (14) – The Commodores lost at Tennessee in a game that might have been the more boring to watch in the conference all year. They then went down at Alabama by seven. There are four conference games to go. Can Vandy find an SEC win? Games at Texas A&M (Saturday) and at home with Arkansas (next Wednesday) are looking like their biggest chances.