The 2022-23 men’s basketball season is only hours away from tipping off, and it should be an exciting year in the SEC.

There are a few legitimate Final Four contenders in the league, and a couple of potential title-caliber squads. Six teams have new head coaches and every squad has some new talent coming in this season.

So, which teams have had the best offseasons? Which teams are poised to make it to the NCAA Tournament?

Here are our preseason SEC men’s hoops power rankings:

14. Vanderbilt

The Commodores do return some intriguing talent, including Jordan Wright, Myles Stute, Liam Robbins and Quentin Millora-Brown, but losing Scotty Pippen Jr. hurts. You don’t just replace a superstar like him. Jerry Stackhouse is going to need to find a playmaker at the point guard position in a hurry or this season is going to get out of hand fast.

13. Georgia

Mike White did a good job of keeping Georgia’s top talent around after taking over from Tom Crean. Yes, Crean’s squad had a historically bad season in 2021-22, but there is some talent on this roster. The Bulldogs’ top 3 scorers – Kario Oquendo, Braelen Bridges and Jailyn Ingram – are returning. Ingram only played 9 games last year before suffering a season-ending injury. But, Oquendo has the potential to become a breakout star this year after averaging 15.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

12. South Carolina

The Gamecocks are entering Year 1 of the Lamont Paris era. Yes, landing GG Jackson was huge, but this team has a ton of holes to fill. The top 6 scorers from last year are gone. The leading scorer back this year from last year’s team is Chico Carter, who made 1 start in 2021-22 and had 4.2 points per contest. This is going to be a completely different squad, and until I see the Gamecocks in action, it’s going to be hard to move them above this No. 12 spot.

11. Mississippi State

Similar to the Commodores above, the Bulldogs have to replace a superstar in Iverson Molinar, who averaged 17.5 points per game last year. He also led the team with 3.6 assists per contest. But, there are a couple of interesting front-court pieces returning. Tolu Smith should be healthy, and DJ Jeffries will team up with him to provide a solid big-man duo. If Shakeel Moore can improve and take on some of Molinar’s scoring load, coach Chris Jans’ first season in Starkville could surprise some folks.

10. Ole Miss

Replacing Jarkel Joiner won’t be easy, but the Rebels do get Daeshun Ruffin back. The talented guard appeared in only 14 games last year while dealing with an injury. But, when he was on the court, he was electric, averaging 12.6 points, 3.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Pairing him with Matthew Murrell and Tye Fagan in the backcourt gives the Rebels an intriguing trio. Coach Kermit Davis will need a forward to step up, perhaps transfer Theo Akwuba from Louisiana.

9. LSU

This team is so different than it was last year. Gone is coach Will Wade. Gone are the Tigers’ top 6 scorers from 2021-22. To find the top returning scorer, you have to go down to Mwani Wilkinson, who started 30 of 34 games last season, but averaged only 4 points and 3 rebounds per contest. Adam Miller, the Illinois transfer who missed all of last year with an injury, is an intriguing prospect, as are KJ Williams, Trae Hannibal and Justice Hill. The latter trio came to LSU from Murray State along with new coach Matt McMahon. Will they have success in the SEC? I want to see it on the court first. Also, an NCAA cloud is hanging over this program due to violations committed by Wade. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of that situation.

8. Mizzou

For only the second time on this list (with Georgia being the previous instance), we have a team that returns its top scorer (and rebounder) from last season. Kobe Brown is back and he gives new head coach Dennis Gates a legitimate SEC standout to build around. From there, Gates did some great work in the transfer portal. He brought in Isiaih Mosley, an elite scorer from Missouri State. He also added Nick Honor from Clemson and D’Moi Hodge and Tre Gomillion from his previous coaching stop, Cleveland State. Freshman Aidan Shaw is another intriguing piece who could contribute right away. This is an interesting team. That’s more than could be said last year.

7. Texas A&M

The Aggies will miss Quentin Jackson, who led the team in scoring last year, but this is far from an empty cupboard in College Station. Scorers No. 2-4 (Henry Coleman III, Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor IV) are back. Coleman and Radford both averaged a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per game last year. Julius Marble is an interesting front-court addition from Michigan State. Manny Obaseki should take a step forward. Andre Gordon can contribute off the bench. And this team will be hungry after getting absolutely robbed of an NCAA Tournament spot last year.

6. Florida

The Gators get to build around Colin Castleton in Todd Golden’s first year as head coach. He’ll perhaps be the top challenger to Oscar Tshiebwe for SEC Player of the Year. That’s a good start. Kyle Lofton is an interesting transfer from St. Bonaventure. If Golden can use analytics to unlock Myreon Jones and Kowacie Reeves this year, the Gators should comfortably be in the NCAA Tournament mix. That will be a welcome change from life on the bubble under Mike White.

5. Alabama

If Jahvon Quinerly and Nimari Burnett are healthy and can stay on the court, that’s a talented backcourt tandem for Nate Oats and the Crimson Tide. Charles Bediako looks poised to take a big step forward in the post. Brandon Miller has a chance to be one of the top freshmen in the league. Mark Sears is an interesting addition via the transfer portal from Ohio. There’s not a ton of depth here, but the top-end talent is impressive in Tuscaloosa.

4. Auburn

A lot of familiar faces are back for another year on The Plains, including Wendell Green Jr., KD Johnson, Allen Flanigan (who should be healthy after being less than 100% last season), Zep Jasper and more. Then, add in perhaps the most intriguing transfer in the SEC in Morehead State’s Johni Broome, a 5-star freshman in Yohan Traore and freshman Tre Donaldson and this has the chance to be one of the deepest teams in the SEC. We’ll see what sort of rotation Bruce Pearl figures out as the season goes on, but this should be a very interesting squad.

3. Tennessee

There are a lot of familiar faces on this Tennessee squad, starting with Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James. Zakai Zeigler will also take on a bigger role this year and Olivier Nkamhoua should be good to go after a season-ending injury. Tyreke Key should be an impact transfer and freshman Julian Phillips shows all the skills to become a first-round NBA Draft pick. Coming off an SEC Tournament victory last year, Rick Barnes and company certainly have the talent to repeat in 2022-23.

2. Arkansas

Eric Musselman has had his Razorbacks as the last SEC team in the NCAA Tournament for 2 years in a row. The Hogs were a win short of the Final Four last year, and look poised to make another run at that goal this season. If Jaylin Williams had come back, this would be my No. 1 team. But, for now, they’ll sit at No. 2, waiting to see just how special the 3 freshmen – Nick Smith, Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh – are. The one concern here is how the post rotation will shake out. Rhode Island transfers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell will be counted on to protect the rim. Mizzou transfer Trevon Brazile will also figure prominently into the rotation. This should be another year where there are some struggles early, but Musselman has his guys hitting their stride when it matters most.

1. Kentucky

When you get the reigning National Player of the Year returning, you’re off to a good start. Sahvir Wheeler, the SEC’s assists leader from last season, is also back. CJ Fredrick will be counted on to fill Kellan Grady’s 3-point specialist role. If Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves and 5-star freshman Cason Wallace can add even more depth and talent to the guard rotation, Kentucky will be stacked. Then, there’s Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins and Lance Ware in the post. If even 2 of those 3 can improve from last year, Kentucky will be the best team in the SEC and, perhaps, the country.