SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Does anyone want to be No. 1? What is up with Florida?
To start the season, I had Florida at No. 1 in these SEC basketball power rankings. Let’s just say that hasn’t worked out so well.
Then, I moved Kentucky to the No. 1 spot. That very same night, the Wildcats lost at home to Evansville in one of the worst losses ever for a No. 1 team.
Now, we are already on our third No. 1 team in as many weeks. Will this new top team manage to avoid the curse? We’ll find out by this time next Tuesday.
Here’s a look at where each SEC team currently stands in our SEC power rankings:
14. Vanderbilt (2-1, Last week: 14)
Hitting the road didn’t go well for Vanderbilt and first-year coach Jerry Stackhouse, as the Commodores lost in Richmond in overtime last week. The offense played well, but the defense was a disaster in the 93-92 loss.
Aaron Nesmith had 34 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks, but it wasn’t enough for the Commodores. With home games against Austin Peay and South Carolina State this week, the Commodores should improve to 4-1, but nothing is a given with this team.
13. Texas A&M (2-1, LW: 13)
The Aggies were absolutely trounced by No. 8 Gonzaga in College Station on Friday night, losing 79-49. They’ll now be without G TJ Starks for a while, too, as he was suspended following a marijuana arrest. He had already been sitting out with an ankle injury before the arrest.
This week, they face a must-win game against an 0-3 Troy squad. Lose that one, and Buzz Williams’ first year at the helm of the program will go south in a hurry.
12. Alabama (1-2, LW: 12)
A 93-79 loss at Rhode Island last week wasn’t great for the Crimson Tide, but they did outscore the Rams 46-43 in the second half. That’s something positive they can take from this game.
It’s no surprise that 3 of the 4 SEC teams with new coaches are at the bottom of this list. It’s going to take some time for their systems to get fully into place. Alabama has plenty of talent, and a home game against a tough 4-0 Furman team this week could help the Tide start to turn things around.
11. Mizzou (3-1, LW: 9)
Mizzou gave a ranked Xavier team all it could handle, losing in overtime 63-58. The Tigers bounced back on Monday night, though, turning in an outstanding defensive effort in a 75-56 win over a tough Wofford squad.
Wofford didn’t make a single shot from the field in the last 14 minutes of the game, allowing Mizzou to extend its lead. Now, the Tigers will try to keep the good times rolling with games against Morehead State and Butler this week.
A climb back up in these rankings isn’t out of the question, especially if the Tigers take down Butler.
10. Ole Miss (3-0, LW: 11)
In 3 games, Ole Miss has had 3 different leading scorers — Devontae Shuler, KJ Buffen and Breein Tyree. That shows some impressive offensive versatility. I’d still like to see a more balanced effort from Buffen, but he has time to improve.
This week, the Rebels could make a big jump in these rankings, as they face Seattle on Tuesday night and then travel to take on No. 16 Memphis on Saturday. Win that game, and they’ll move up a few spots.
9. Arkansas (3-0, LW: 10)
The Arkansas offense needs to improve a bit, but this has been a solid start by the Razorbacks under first-year coach Eric Musselman. However, they’re winning games, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
This will be a busy week for the Hogs, who face 3 games before the next SEC power rankings next Tuesday — vs. Texas Southern (Tuesday), vs. South Dakota (Friday) and at Georgia Tech (Monday). That Georgia Tech game will be their first real test, so we’ll see how they fare.
8. Georgia (3-0, LW: 8)
Georgia’s offense is averaging an impressive 95.3 points per game so far (albeit against less-than-stellar competition). Still, freshman G Anthony Edwards has been everything advertised and more. He led the team in scoring in the first 2 games, then had 7 assists in a 100-66 win over Delaware State this past week.
F Rayshaun Hammonds carried the load in that game, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. If he can play like that more consistently, the Bulldogs will continue to rack up the victories.
A Wednesday home game against Georgia Tech will provide the Bulldogs’ first real test of the year, so we’ll see how Tom Crean’s crew handles that rivalry atmosphere.
7. Florida (2-2, LW: 6)
The Gators lost again last week, going up north to take on UConn on Saturday. Yes, Florida battled hard and kept things close, but that’s not a game a preseason top 10 team should lose.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. continues to play well, but the young players around him need to mature in a hurry. If Florida continues down this path, coach Mike White will be on the hot seat really soon.
6. South Carolina (3-0, LW: 7)
The Gamecocks keep winning, but none of their wins have been particularly impressive. Last week’s 90-63 win over Cleveland State did show that Frank Martin’s team can score when the situation requires it, though.
This week, the Gamecocks should continue to feast on lesser foes, with games against Boston and Gardner-Webb on the schedule. A showdown next Tuesday against Wichita State in Cancun will be their first real test.
5. LSU (2-1, LW: 3)
The Tigers fall, yes, but not too much, as they went to Richmond and lost a close game to a tough VCU team. No, it wasn’t the homecoming coach Will Wade (a former VCU coach) wanted, but the Tigers are still a solid squad.
They’ll have plenty of opportunities this week to define their nonconference season. On Tuesday night, they’ll host a UMBC squad that is notorious for slaying giants. Then, there’s a game on Friday against No. 15 Utah State, which will give LSU another chance at a signature nonconference win. Finally, on Sunday, they’ll play a Rhode Island squad that just knocked off Alabama.
That’s a fun week, and we’ll see how the Tigers continue to develop.
4. Kentucky (3-1, LW: 1)
Last week’s No. 1 team promptly lost at home to unranked Evansville in embarrassing fashion. The Wildcats nearly complicated their struggles, needing a late surge to knock off Utah Valley 82-74 at Rupp Arena on Monday night.
Yes, this team is dealing with several injuries, but Kentucky shouldn’t be in a battle with Utah Valley ever. The Wildcats now have some time to get right, though, as they don’t play another major-conference team until Dec. 14 against Georgia Tech.
3. Tennessee (3-0, LW: 5)
The Vols went to Toronto last week and knocked off a ranked Washington team in convincing fashion 75-62. The returning contributors from last year’s team carried the load in the victory, showing what experience can do.
Jordan Bowden had 18 points, Lamonte Turner had 16, Yves Pons had 15 and John Fulkerson finished with 14. Turner also had 8 assists. Impressive stuff from a team that faced a lot of question marks heading into 2019.
Home games against Alabama State and Chattanooga should be manageable this week before things kick up a notch again during Thanksgiving week.
2. Mississippi State (4-0, LW: 5)
The Bulldogs have been gaining steam as the year goes on. They haven’t left Starkville yet, but that will change when they play Tulane on Thursday in Myrtle Beach as part of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
A potential 2nd-round matchup with Villanova looms large as a chance for Ben Howland’s team to really prove its worth. We’ll see if they can perform away from the friendly confines of The Hump.
1. Auburn (5-0, LW: 2)
I thought Auburn would struggle to replace guys like Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke from last year’s squad, but the Tigers haven’t missed a beat this year. Obviously, that could change as the competition intensifies, but for now, coach Bruce Pearl has his squad lighting up the scoreboard once again.
Samir Doughty has really stepped up his game this season. Just look at this devastating fake that floored a Colgate defender on Monday night and led to an open 3:
— Power of Dixieland (@PwrofDixieland) November 19, 2019
Doughty finished Monday’s 91-62 win with a team-high 20 points. Big man Austin Wiley had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Yes, they needed a miracle escape against South Alabama last Tuesday, but the Tigers are rolling now.
Can they avoid the curse of the No. 1 spot in these rankings this week? They only have one game — in Brooklyn against New Mexico as part of the Legends Classic, so that looks like a manageable contest for Auburn.