SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Alabama, Tennessee score huge wins, Mizzou on the rise, Florida falls
Feast Week is officially over, but what a week it was! The SEC as a whole played very well in the events it participated in, and some other teams had some impressive wins at home.
We hit a bit of a lull in the schedule this week, but some other big games are on the horizon starting in December.
So without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s power rankings of every SEC men’s hoops squad, shall we?
14. Vanderbilt (3-3 overall, Last Week: 14)
Vanderbilt has actually played a halfway decent nonconference schedule, so give the Commodores credit for that. But the results simply aren’t there. Losses to Memphis, Southern Miss and Saint Mary’s aren’t terrible, but none of those teams were ranked at the time they beat the Commodores, either. Wins over Temple, Morehead State and Fresno State are nothing to write home about. It’s shaping up to be a long SEC season for Jerry Stackhouse’s crew.
13. South Carolina (3-3, LW: 13)
South Carolina is not a good basketball team. The Gamecocks are tied with Vanderbilt for the worst record in the SEC at the moment. They average the fewest points per game in the SEC (63.5), 4 full points behind second-fewest Mississippi State. At 39.9%, the Gamecocks make only .2% more of their field goals than league-worst Tennessee.
Meanwhile, if anyone is paying attention, former coach Frank Martin has UMass at 4-1 and just led the Minutemen to a surprising Myrtle Beach Invitational title. Just sayin’…
12. Florida (4-3, LW: 9)
The Gators played in the Phil Knight Legacy event over the Thanksgiving weekend in Oregon and went 1-2. Losing a 7-point game (90-83) against a tough Xavier team wasn’t cause for concern, but a 29-point drubbing in the final game at the hands of West Virginia certainly was. The Gators made only 2 of their 17 3-point attempts in that matchup and Colin Castleton was held to 3 points and 5 rebounds after running into foul trouble early. That’s not a recipe for success for Todd Golden’s squad. I’m officially a bit concerned about Florida.
11. Georgia (5-2, LW: 12)
I apologize for erroneously listing the Bulldogs at 4-2 in last week’s rankings. Perhaps I’m to blame for a jinx, as they went out and lost their next game to UAB. But credit to Mike White and the Dawgs, as they bounced back with a 15-point win over ETSU in their next game on Sunday. I’d like to see this team score more points against lesser opponents. We’ll see if Georgia can do just that this week at home against Hampton on Wednesday and FAMU on Friday.
10. Ole Miss (6-1, LW: 10)
The Rebels went 2-1 at the ESPN Events Invitational in Florida, but it’s hard to move them from the No. 10 spot because of the résumé. Ole Miss’s 6 wins are against Alcorn State, FAU, Chattanooga, UT Martin, Stanford and Siena. The Rebels finally ran into some tougher competition at the event in Florida, losing to Oklahoma by 4 points. Not a terrible loss by any means, but we’ll see if the Rebels can win at Memphis on Saturday before I move them any higher on this list.
9. Texas A&M (4-2, LW: 11)
The Aggies put a disappointing Myrtle Beach Invitational behind them by winning a true road game at DePaul on Friday, 82-66. This week, games against SMU (on Wednesday) and Boise State (on Saturday) await. Getting Henry Coleman going a bit more will need to be a focus for Texas A&M this week.
8. LSU (6-1, LW: 6)
LSU’s only loss was to a Kansas State team in the Cayman Islands Classic that’s a perfect 6-0, but that was really the Tigers’ only chance to date to pick up a quality win. The Wildcats went on to win the Classic, making it a missed opportunity for LSU. Next Saturday presents an interesting challenge for Matt McMahon’s squad, as the Tigers will head to Atlanta for a neutral-site game against Wake Forest.
7. Mississippi State (7-0, LW: 8)
The Bulldogs beat Marquette and Utah to win the Fort Myers Tip Off, so this isn’t an empty 7-0. But it would be nice to see the offense click a bit more. Mississippi State is second to last in the SEC, averaging 67.5 points per game. Tolu Smith has been a star, but we’ll see if more offensive threats can emerge for Chris Jans’ squad.
6. Kentucky (4-2, LW: 4)
Kentucky is 0-2 against decent competition this year (Michigan State and Gonzaga). The Wildcats have beaten Howard, Duquesne, South Carolina State and North Florida this year so far. Not exactly a murder’s row of competition. A game against Bellarmine on Tuesday night will provide the Wildcats a chance to earn some early bragging rights, as Bellarmine beat rival Louisville earlier this season. But tougher tests await, as John Calipari’s squad heads to London on Sunday, Dec. 4, to play Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines. That should be a fun game!
5. Mizzou (7-0, LW: 7)
I’m trying not to get too high on Mizzou, as the Tigers have faced the 361st hardest schedule in Division I this year (out of 363 teams). So Dennis Gates and company haven’t played anyone yet, to put it lightly. They are, however, absolutely torching every team that dares step on the same court as them. The Tigers are averaging an SEC-best 93.3 points per game. A Tuesday night road trip to Wichita State will provide the first real test of the year. And, of course, rivalry games against ranked Kansas and Illinois squads loom large in December. We’ll see if D’Moi Hodge, Kobe Brown and the Tigers can keep up their torrid pace!
4. Auburn (7-0, LW: 2)
Dropping the Tigers down 2 spots despite them sporting a 7-0 record and just picking up a nice win over Saint Louis may seem harsh. But I’m just more impressed with the holiday tournament efforts from the 3 teams yet to come in these rankings. The Tigers will have their chances to pick up signature wins. But for now there are a couple of concerns I have, including 3-point shooting. The Tigers are making an SEC-low 26.6% of their attempts from long range, more than 2% less than second-worst Georgia (29.3%). Averaging 70.1 points per game, especially against lesser competition thus far, also seems troubling for a Bruce Pearl squad. The important thing, of course, is that the Tigers keep winning.
3. Arkansas (6-1, LW: 1)
Devo Davis is taking some time away from basketball, according to Eric Musselman. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Hogs got to see Nick Smith Jr. on the court on Monday night against Troy. He only played 5 minutes, didn’t score and his only stat was a rebound. But he was on the court, and that’s great for the Arkansas squad.
More good news? Arkansas played really well at the Maui Invitational. Losing to Creighton is nothing to be ashamed of, and the Hogs gave it all they had in that 90-87 loss. Beating No. 17 San Diego State and the Aztecs’ tough defense in overtime to win third place was impressive a day after the Creighton loss. Anthony Black was sensational, too, scoring 26 points against Louisville, 26 points against Creighton and 15 against San Diego State:
6’7 Point Guard
Anthony Black can do It all pic.twitter.com/JfFdE73u6t
— Gifted (@G0dGiven_) November 22, 2022
This is looking like yet another Eric Musselman squad that will be firing on all cylinders when it really matters most.
2. Tennessee (5-1, LW: 5)
The Vols have certainly eased my concerns after an early season loss to Colorado in Nashville. Rick Barnes took his squad to the Bahamas over Thanksgiving and won the Battle 4 Atlantis, taking down then-No. 3 Kansas in the process. The Vols have the No. 1 defense in the country, according to the KenPom rankings. I am concerned about the offense, though, which is making an SEC-worst 39.7% of its field goals.
Competition doesn’t ramp back up for the Vols until Dec. 11, when they start a stretch of games that includes No. 22 Maryland (in Brooklyn) and No. 4 Arizona (in Tucson). That won’t be easy.
1. Alabama (6-1, LW: 3)
I’m giving the Crimson Tide the nod for the No. 1 spot this week. They went out to Oregon and played 3-straight ranked teams in the Phil Knight Invitational, going 2-1 and taking down No. 1 North Carolina (in 4 overtimes) in the process. Ironically, the game the Tide lost was the one to the lowest-ranked opponent (No. 20 UConn). Wins over the Tar Heels and No. 12 Michigan State were huge for the program’s NCAA Tournament résumé. Having Jahvon Quinerly back and health was huge for the Tide against the Heels, as he put up 21 points, 8 assists and 6 boards:
Jahvon Quinerly was huge for Bama, helping the Crimson Tide upset No. 1 UNC in 4 OTs? @RealJahvonQ
– 21 points
– 8 assists
– 6 rebounds pic.twitter.com/pT4Y68Qm9x
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) November 28, 2022
Freshman sensation Brandon Miller had himself a day against the Spartans, going for 24 points and 9 rebounds:
Brandon Miller had himself a day against No. 12 Michigan State:
– 24 points
– 4-7 3PT
– 9 rebounds
Brandon is looking like the best freshman in college basketball ? pic.twitter.com/2Vmj8nnWDq
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) November 25, 2022
Miller is averaging an SEC-best 19.6 points per game so far. This is a dangerous Alabama team. Of course, tests against No. 1 Houston (Dec. 10) and No. 14 Gonzaga (Dec. 17) still loom large.