Monday, January 30, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: SEC
By Andy Katz
Kentucky is at the top of the national rankings and the conference rankings. But who comes next in the SEC?
1. Kentucky: The Wildcats continue to take everyone's best shot and keep on winning. The problems of winning on the road in conference play seem to be a thing of the past. Still tough spots to come at Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, but smooth sailing so far.
2. Florida: The Gators haven't lost since the SEC opener at Tennessee. If you jumped off this bandwagon, it was probably a mistake. Florida had arguably its best week of the season with a comeback win at Ole Miss and a convincing home win over Mississippi State.
3. Vanderbilt: The Commodores hold steady at No. 3 with two solid home wins over rival Tennessee and dangerous mid-major Middle Tennessee, who entered Saturday's game 20-2. It was a good week for Vandy, but the consistency has been lacking. Let's see another good week from the Dores.
4. Mississippi State: Yes, the Bulldogs won at Vanderbilt in overtime the previous week but they looked overmatched in their road loss at Florida. Mississippi State needs to get back on track this week. Still, this is at worst the fourth-best team in the SEC.
5. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have been all over the map during the conference season. But after a terrible loss at South Carolina, they did hold on to beat Arkansas at home over the weekend and this team clearly has SEC top-five talent. Still think this is the right spot for them.
6. Arkansas: Mike Anderson has made the Razorbacks a tough out even though they are depleted. Winning in Fayetteville is a chore for any team this season. Don't be surprised to see Arkansas cause trouble in the conference tournament.
7. Tennessee: The Vols have hit a bit of a skid lately, but the effort has been solid. The addition of Jarnell Stokes changes the dynamic for this team and makes them a force inside. UT will likely pull another upset here soon, although don't expect one Tuesday night in Lexington.
8. Ole Miss: Andy Kennedy has done a fine job reconstituting this team after two dismissals. The Rebels had Florida down by double digits at the half in Oxford and then still had a chance after giving up the lead to force overtime. But poor late-game decisions cost them dearly. Still, Ole Miss is 4-2 over its past six games.
9. LSU: The Tigers were legitimately playing like one of the four best teams in the league in December. But reality hit during this rebuilding process. The play against Kentucky was a bit chippy and the Tigers were blown out at home. I'm not sure if LSU can be a major factor in the second half of the conference season. Doesn't appear so.
10. Auburn: The Tigers were dreadful on offense Saturday in Knoxville, but give Tony Barbee some time to see if he can make this team into a pest by season's end. They did just miss out on winning at Arkansas earlier in the week and were coming off home wins against Ole Miss and South Carolina.
11. Georgia: Mark Fox has to be patient with this team because it is still incredibly young and inexperienced. The Bulldogs are 1-5 in the SEC and play four of their next five on the road. Ouch.
12. South Carolina: The Gamecocks did beat Alabama at home, but that's their only conference win so far and it might be their last for a while. Of their next four games, three are on the road at Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas -- with a home game against No. 1 Kentucky squeezed in between.