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Is the SEC a Basketball Conference? The People Wanna Know

Updated: Oct 21

College basketball has been sorely missed in my household this summer. I like the warmer weather and long days, but my favorite time the year runs from the end of October to the first couple weeks in April. Yes, football’s starting, and I love football, but there’s just a special place for college basketball in our household.

I’m starting to dive into how these teams are going to stack up this year, starting with the 6 power conferences, and moving on down after that. I’m planning a breakdown a week leading into my pre-season bracket release on halloween. Each of the conference articles are starting out as smaller previews and will get more detailed as we go, and I’ll be continually updating as information is available. My final rankings and prediction for the conference will come out closer to the start of the season, this is more of a first take overview as I get more familiar with each team going into the preseason. Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on why a team deserves something different than I have them at. Unfortunately, this isn’t my full-time job and I don’t have enough time to deeply analyze each roster.

The data I’m using to help guide me comes from Bart Torvik’s predictions for the year, along with looking at stats from last year. Of course, these aren’t exact numbers and likely won’t be perfectly accurate in predicting the year, but it does give a baseline for each team’s outlook.

Alright, now let’s get into the SEC! Is it a BBN year? will Oats & Co take the trophy? Maybe Arkansas, or Tennessee?

  1. Texas A&M: Wade Taylor IV, the end. Texas A&M return 81% of their possession minutes this year, and are looking to go out and win the league this year. I don’t know if I should buy into Buzz Williams & Co this year, but for now, I’m going to. This year, I really want to see the Aggies get out to a fast start and stay there, they return enough where that should be the case. This team has legitimate final four talent if it comes together. My biggest question: shooting? They’re going to be more of a throwback style team this year in that they get a ton of their points from the paint and the FT line.

  2. Tennessee: I wanted to take the Vols to win the league this year, but it’s really close at the top! Right now, the biggest question mark for Tennessee is their offense (or lack of), and that must change for them to get to the summit of the SEC. Tennessee appears to have brought in some pieces who should bring firepower from deep and help boost the offense, but they need to prove it at the high-major level before I’m fully buying in.

  3. Alabama: I’m a big Nate Oats guy. I love what he’s done for the Crimson Tide! Bama crushed the portal this year! Their portal class is led by Grant Nelson and Aaron Estrada; however, they have some solid supporting pieces coming in via the freshman class as well! This is going to be a DEEP team, and will continue the tradition of playing fast, shooting 3’s and getting to the rim. I really want to see what happens regarding the defense this year. I think that Oats and Co. are going to have to outscore teams more than just beat them with their D. Another team with HUGE talent this year!

  4. Arkansas: The transfer kings of the SEC: these Razorbacks are going to look a lot different than what they did last year, however, I like them. Similar to what we’ve seen the last couple of years, look for Arkansas to struggle some before finding it right before the tournament! In good news for Razorback fans this year, they have some experience to them, even if that comes from transfers, it’ll be nice to have that compared to last years freshman trio! My biggest question is shooting, I don’t think that their portal haul will help solve this, and they’ll need to surprise on their new team to become legitimate 3 point snipers! I like them to be in the tournament, but from a seeding standpoint, they could end up in a variety of seeds depending on how long it takes them to mesh together!

  5. Kentucky: This is a YOUNG team this year, and one with a ton of turnover. This year is a big year for Cal & co. In my opinion, they have really fallen off and I have some real questions starting to form about coach Cal. He can prove everyone wrong if this team comes out and plays like they’re capable of. The #1 recruiting classes no longer mean as much with the portal season, but there’s no doubt that the talent is there for UK. From what I’ve heard, this is a team and should be able to shoot better this year, however, there’s the possibility that this team struggles to distribute the ball and mesh together. Look for the early season to have some real bumps in the road, especially against Kansas.

  6. Florida: Todd Golden year two looks to be a good one! They brought in a great portal class highlighted by Walter Clayton Jr, and Tyrese Samuel. Last year, they never really clicked, which happens, last year was unlucky, and installing a new coaches system simply takes time. I look for their sophomores to make a jump this year, however, if they don’t, there could be some real issues with trying to replace the void that Castleton’s departure leaves for this year. Between the transfers and the returners, I think they can do it. I like them for the NCAA tournament this year.

  7. Auburn: Are Bruce Pearl and Co are going to try and replicate what UConn did with their two bigs last year? Between Broome and Cardwell, the upside is there, but will the guard play match it? That’s still to be determined; more so, how will the shot selection look this year? I watched several games where it appeared they shot themselves out of games with their selection. I also look for Jaylin Williams to make a massive impact this year, and this is a front court who should be up among the deepest in the country. Auburn should be dancing come March.

  8. Miss St: Tolu Smith’s injury moved the Bulldogs down 2 spots for me, if he comes back and is his normal self, this team’s ceiling is a lot higher! Other than that, they return all 5 starters, and they’re an experienced bunch of guys who should really mesh quickly. I feel safe to say that the Bulldogs will be a GREAT defensive team again, however, they’ve got to put it together on the offensive end this year. That’s my biggest question for them. I think Chris Jans & Co can get this team back into the NCAA tournament this year!

  9. Missouri: Losing Kobe Brown is such a tough loss for this team, add in losing D’Moi Hodge, and there are a lot of questions for Gates & Co. I believe that they brought in enough talent to offset those losses, however, I need to see it actually play out before I’m fully buying in. This is a bubble team for now, however, I trust Gates to push them up a little farther and I could even see them getting a bid this year!

  10. Vanderbilt: I love Stackhouse, and I think he could be jumping to the NBA soon. However, he’s here for this year at least. They lost a lot in Robbins and Wright, however, returning Manjon and Lawrence should really help keep some of the momentum from the end of last year and get off to a better start this year. It also appears that Colin Smith is primed for a jump this year! This is a team with a TON of upside in a hyper competitive SEC, however, can they capitalize and get into the tournament?

  11. Ole Miss: Chris Beard can coach, period. This team has enough talent IF waivers get approved to get into the NCAA tournament, but if not? It could be really interesting this year. If they’re able to find a way to land Jose Perez, and he would be eligible, that could really help solve the riddle that this team is, and maybe even move them up in my rankings! This is a bubble team this year, especially until we have more clarity on eligibility!

  12. Georgia: Mike White had what I’ll call a solid year 1 under Mike White last year! This year, expectations may get a little higher! I love the transfer class that is coming into Athens this year, and I think they really have an opportunity to do really well! Unlocking RJ Melendez finding his shot after a rough year last year would REALLY help this team open up and perform better than expectations. This is a team with enough talent to make the tournament, which would be ahead of schedule in Athens, I just don’t know if they will get it done this year!

  13. LSU: IF Cook’s waiver gets approved, this team could be really talented and I'd likely move them up. I Love Will Baker and Jordan Wright transferring in, and combined with the presumed jump from freshman→ sophomore year for Tyrell Ward should really push this team forward this year. Before the 14 game losing streak that really derailed the season last year, I liked the Tigers and they looked like a tournament team! The reason I have them down here is partly due to how questionable their backcourt is going to be. Having a freshman potentially lead you is always a sketchy situation. That being said, until that situation is proven, I’m not high on the Tigers this year, but this could lay the groundwork for something special to come!

  14. South Carolina: Lamont’s 2nd year will be full of struggles again, what I want to see is this team show progress. Last year, Lamont really relied on youth and unproven transfers, and we all see how that worked out. This year? He brought in some experience to hopefully make it better! Meechie Johnson is the lynchpin for this team, however, I just don’t see them making much improvement. That being said, the team can’t get much worse, right?!

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