SDS Mailbag: Alabama or Arkansas as SEC’s best team, SEC’s WR1 in 2021 and fixing the Vols
It’s March Madness time! Conference tournaments have started on the men’s side of things and the SEC Tournament is currently going on in the women’s world.
There’s basketball on TV for 12+ hours a day from now until the end of the month, basically, and that means I’m a very happy sports fan.
Now, let’s just hope Mizzou doesn’t disappoint me too much. Is that too much to ask? Probably.
Anyway, here are your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
Has Arkansas done enough to usurp Alabama as the best team in the SEC this year?
What the Razorbacks have done lately has been incredible to watch. They haven’t lost since a trip to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State on Jan. 30 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. They have a 7-game winning streak overall and a 10-game SEC winning streak if you ignore the loss to Oklahoma State.
Personally, I’m not willing to bump the Hogs ahead of the Tide just yet, though. Let’s not forget that Alabama beat Arkansas by 31 points in Tuscaloosa. Yes, Arkansas just thumped Alabama in Fayetteville a couple of weeks ago, but to me, that is a wash. Both teams defended their home courts.
Arkansas fans are quick to point out that Justin Smith wasn’t at full strength when they went to Tuscaloosa. Well, Herb Jones wasn’t at full strength when Alabama lost a couple of weeks ago. Oh, and the Tide won without Jordan Bruner in Tuscaloosa.
I think these 2 teams are 1 and 1A in the SEC right now, but if both teams are at full strength and meet on a neutral court (say, in Nashville on March 14, perhaps?), I’d still give Alabama a slight edge. Now, let’s just hope we get to see Round 3 of this great 2021 rivalry next week!
The SEC is losing a ton of receivers to the NFL Draft. Who is going to be the best receiver in the conference in 2021?
Yeah, it’s definitely going to be tough to replace guys like Kyle Pitts, Elijah Moore, Ja’Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr., Seth Williams, Jaylen Waddle and, of course, DeVonta Smith — the 2020 Heisman winner. But, there’s still plenty of talent at the position.
LSU’s Kayshon Boutte, Georgia’s George Pickens, Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer and others are going to be elite pass catchers this fall, but I’m going to agree with my SDS colleague Connor O’Gara when it comes to WR1 this fall.
Connor makes a pretty convincing case for Arkansas’s Treylon Burks in this piece. Watching him torch my Missouri Tigers with 10 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown in 2020 has me riding the Burks hype train, too.
He won’t have Feleipe Franks throwing to him this fall, but KJ Jefferson figures to be the Hogs’ starter and he’s shown he’s more than capable of getting the ball to his receivers. It should be a big year for Burks.
How can the Vols turn things around and win the SEC Tournament and potentially make a deep NCAA Tournament run?
To me, it all comes down to 1 guy. We know Yves Pons is an elite defensive player. Victor Bailey Jr. and Santiago Vescovi can both carry offenses when they’re hot. Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer are improving every time they take the court and look like first-round NBA Draft picks.
This comes down to how well John Fulkerson plays. The big man has taken a major step back this season, and I’m not sure why. He has scored exactly 4 points in 5 of his last 6 games, and that simply isn’t going to cut it.
He was a first-team All-SEC player this preseason, but he hasn’t lived up to those expectations thus far. There’s still time, though, and legends are made in March, as they say. So, if he can step up his game to last season’s levels, the Vols will be a tough out in Nashville and Indianapolis.
If the season ended today, the top 4 seeds in the SEC Tournament would be Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and Florida, in that order. If you had to pick a team outside of that group to win the tourney, who would it be?
I want to say Mizzou here, since I’m a homer, but I can’t. If the Tigers run into a team like Ole Miss, they’re done. The Rebels have Mizzou’s number this year. For that reason, I’m picking the Rebels as the answer to this question.
Ole Miss has been up and down a bit lately, but it is still a dangerous team, especially on defense. The Rebels have a clutch guard in Devontae Shuler and a talented big man in Romello White. Around them, the Rebels have a decent supporting cast, with KJ Buffen and Jarkel Joiner as the most consistent of those players.
I wouldn’t want to face the Rebels on the wrong night. They’ve beaten Mizzou twice and have a win over Tennessee. If that team can consistently score in Nashville, there’s a chance it could make a deep run. Plus, the Rebels’ NCAA Tournament chances are hanging by a thread, so they’ll have the motivation to keep winning.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.