5 SEC teams that could reach Final Four in 2022
Well, the 2020-21 men’s basketball season is officially over. Baylor absolutely dominated Gonzaga on Monday night in Indianapolis to clinch the first national championship in school history.
Now, we turn our attention toward the 2021-22 season, particularly with regards to the SEC. This year, Arkansas made it the furthest in the tournament, advancing to the Elite 8 before losing to eventual-champion Baylor. Meanwhile, Alabama made it to the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual-Final Four team UCLA.
It was a great season for those 2 teams, but with roster turnover via the NCAA transfer portal and the NBA Draft, even those squads will look much different this coming season.
So, which 5 SEC teams have the potential to make Final Four runs next season? Let’s break down the leading 5 candidates:
Yep, the defending SEC regular-season and tournament champions make the No. 1 spot on the list. They’ll likely lose Herb Jones and John Petty Jr. to the NBA Draft, and will possibly lose some others to graduation or the portal, but Nate Oats has plenty in his cupboard to work with.
If Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford, Josh Primo and Keon Ellis all come back, that’s a good corps to build around. Add in 5-star freshman JD Davison and this team has plenty of talent potentially coming back.
Oats has proven himself as a coach, and his system worked well this past season. Can the rest of the SEC catch up? I think it’ll take a lot longer than 1 offseason to solve Oats’ offense (and defense).
The Crimson Tide are going to be a force in the SEC again this coming season. Another title could be heading to Tuscaloosa.
Just take most of what I said about Alabama and post it down here in the Arkansas section. Eric Musselman has built a winning program in only 2 short years in Fayetteville. Yes, the Hogs will likely lose Justin Smith and Moses Moody (and perhaps others) to the NBA Draft this offseason.
However, Devo Davis should be back, Jalen Tate and JD Notae could return and Muss has shown he’s an expert at playing the transfer portal, dating back to his days at Nevada.
I’d expect him to take a long look at the players available and land a couple of guys who can make an immediate impact this coming season. And, I think Devo Davis is a first-team All-SEC preseason selection. I’m high on him after his tournament run. That’s a great piece to build a team around.
The Wildcats just finished a terrible 2020-21 season, but Kentucky is never down for long. Yes, BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke and Isaiah Jackson are off to the NBA Draft. Yes, Devin Askew is in the transfer portal. But, hope is on the horizon.
West Virginia big man Oscar Tshiebwe is already on board for the 2021-22 campaign. Recently, the Wildcats also landed a sharpshooter in Davidson transfer Kellan Grady. That’s a huge addition, as the Wildcats’ major weakness was 3-point shooting last year.
If coach John Calipari can add 1 more impact transfer, that will be great. The 2021 recruiting class has 5-star forward Daimion Collins. PG Nolan Hickman out of Utah is also expected to play right away.
Oh, and the Wildcats are also in the mix for former 5-star UNC big man Walker Kessler. This will be a much different Kentucky team in 2021-22. A trip back to the NCAA Tournament isn’t out of the question at all.
The Vols suddenly have a very interesting backcourt for next season, even without Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson. Josiah-Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi, Yves Pons and John Fulkerson all have interesting NBA Draft decisions to make, too.
But, the Vols have 5-star PG Kennedy Chandler coming in, and he might end up being one of the SEC’s best point guards right away. Then, the Vols landed a commitment from former Auburn sharpshooter Justin Powell. I really like that combo.
Get a couple of the guys mentioned above to return to Rocky Top and land another transfer or 2, and Rick Barnes will have another highly intriguing team heading into 2021-22.
This is going to require more transfers to commit to Mike White’s program, but the Gators are no strangers to NCAA Tournament runs. However, this is going to be almost a completely different team in 2021-22.
Gone is Tre Mann to the NBA. Same with Scottie Lewis. Keyontae Johnson’s future is uncertain. Noah Locke and a slew of others are in the transfer portal.
Colin Castleton might be the only notable guy to come back. So, White will have his work cut out for him. But, Florida manages to attract more talent than many SEC squads. UMKC transfer Brandon McKissic is already on board for next season, and that’s a big get. The Missouri Tigers were heavy players for McKissic.
McKissic has already been doing some online recruiting for the Gators, so we’ll see if White can land any additional top transfers this offseason. I wouldn’t put it past Florida!