SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Tough losses on and off the court highlight Week 3 action
It was fun while it lasted, but every SEC men’s basketball team now has at least one loss. Still, this is shaping up to be a great year on courts throughout the Southeast.
Thanksgiving week brought us a lot of SEC basketball action, both in the form of holiday tournaments and big-time one-off games.
However, it was also a rough week, as Auburn lost to then-No. 1 Duke, Tennessee fell to No. 2 Kansas in overtime and a promising Vanderbilt team lost star freshman PG Darius Garland to a knee injury.
Heading into December, here’s a look at how the SEC basketball power rankings currently shape up:
1. Auburn (5-1, Last week: 1)
Auburn battled then-No. 1 Duke well last week, losing by only 6 points to a team that has some freakish athletes. Jared Harper played like one of the best point guards in the country and the Tigers have some impressive depth.
The rest of the nonconference schedule should be very manageable for the Tigers, and they shouldn’t lose again until SEC play starts in January.
2. Tennessee (4-1, Last week: 2)
A narrow overtime loss to No. 2 Kansas won’t do a lot to dampen the spirits in Vol Nation, as the team played very well in that game in Brooklyn. The Vols are getting contributions from everyone — not just Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams.
Tennessee has two tune-up games this week, then will take on No. 1 Gonzaga in what should be a thrilling game in the Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix on Dec. 9.
3. Kentucky (5-1, Last week: 4)
Yes, the Wildcats were blown out by Duke on opening night, but since then, coach John Calipari’s squad has played well. They haven’t been tested since that game, but a tough December schedule looms, with games against Seton Hall, Utah, North Carolina and Louisville.
If Kentucky can pick up some convincing victories during that stretch, Coach Cal’s crew could move up in these rankings.
4. Mississippi State (5-1, Last week: 6)
The Bulldogs lost their only game against a major-conference squad earlier this year against Arizona State, but a nice win over Saint Mary’s is a good stepping stone moving forward. Games against Clemson and Cincinnati next month will show us if this team can compete in the SEC.
5. Arkansas (4-1, Last week: 7)
Credit where credit is due — the Razorbacks just keep winning. It’s not always pretty, but this young squad keeps getting the job done.
The 1-point home victory over Indiana last week is still the best thing on Arkansas’ schedule, but at 4-1, it’s a good time to be a Hog.
6. LSU (5-2, Last week: 3)
A close loss to a ranked Florida State team wasn’t a bad thing, but following that the next day with a 13-point loss to an unranked Oklahoma State team in the third-place game of the Advocare Invitational wasn’t a good look.
With only a Saturday game against Grambling State this week, the Tigers have a chance to rest up and get back on track moving into December.
7. Alabama (5-1, Last week: 8)
A loss to Northeastern was bad, and the Crimson Tide haven’t played a major-conference team yet, but the Tide keep piling up wins. A Thursday game at UCF will be a good test for them, as will a Dec. 9 home game against Arizona.
8. Vanderbilt (4-1, Last week: 5)
It’ll be tough for the Commodores to overcome the loss of freshman PG Darius Garland, who had shown flashes of brilliance. However, after going down with a meniscus injury against Kent State, he watched as his team came up short against a lesser opponent.
Without Garland, this team is in trouble, but the potential 2019 NBA Draft first-round pick should take his time and make sure he’s fully healthy before returning to the floor.
9. Florida (3-3, Last week: 9)
This team beats up on bad teams but loses to good teams, and a loss to Butler in the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis the day after a big win over Stanford highlights the Gators’ up and down season.
The Gators play West Virginia on Dec. 4 and Michigan State on Dec. 8, and those games could get ugly if Mike White doesn’t get his team playing better.
10. Mizzou (3-2, Last week: 11)
The Tigers are 0-2 against Big 12 squads and 3-0 against everyone else. A win over Oregon State was nice, but a loss to Kansas State was expected.
This week, the Tigers have some intriguing tests at home against tough mid-major squads like Temple and UCF. Based on the results of those games, we’ll know a lot more about this team.
11. Georgia (3-3, Last week: 10)
A huge blowout loss against Georgia State really put a damper on the fun start to Georgia’s season. Losing the third-place game at the Cayman Islands Classic to an in-state squad 91-67 wasn’t a good look for Tom Crean’s program.
The Bulldogs need to bounce back against fellow in-state rival Georgia Tech on Dec. 22 before SEC play starts to get the excitement back on track in Crean’s first year.
12. Ole Miss (3-2, Last week: 13)
A win over Baylor was good, but that’s the only thing of note on this schedule so far. Losses to Butler and Cincinnati show this team is still in the rebuilding process. However, they aren’t the worst team in the SEC, and that’s a good first step under new coach Kermit Davis.
13. South Carolina (3-3, Last week: 12)
Yes, Wofford is a tough team, but a 20-point home loss to the Terriers is not a good look. Coming off a week where they had no games, the Gamecocks have no excuses for overlooking their Southern Conference foes.
14. Texas A&M (2-4, Last week: 14)
The Aggies continue to disappoint, though at least they are challenging themselves with some of their games — Washington, Minnesota and Gonzaga.
However, at 2-4 with a loss to UC Irvine on their resume, this is looking like a lost year in College Station.