Monday, February 27, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: SEC
By Andy Katz
The power structure in the SEC hasn’t moved one bit. Kentucky is king, and there doesn’t appear to be another team capable of getting to the Final Four.
1. Kentucky:Anthony Davis put on a show with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks in a win against Vanderbilt. He’s a national player of the year co-favorite. UK is rolling right now as the No. 1 overall seed and the lead dog to win the national title.
2. Vanderbilt: The one thing you can say about the Commodores is that they don’t have bad SEC losses. Vandy fell to Kentucky twice, lost at Arkansas when the Hogs were unbeatable at home, and lost by one in overtime against Mississippi State when the Bulldogs were on a high. Vanderbilt still has the most experience in the league, even more so than Kentucky. That could serve it well in the coming weeks.
3. Florida: The Gators get this spot by default. Florida continues to befuddle. The Gators can look like a Final Four team at Arkansas, then appear to be a team that couldn’t get out of the First Four when they lose at Georgia. If this team makes 3s, it will advance. If it does not, it won’t. It's pretty simple.
4. Alabama: Credit Anthony Grant for the way he handled the suspensions. Despite the disciplinary actions, the Tide have moved up into the top four with three straight wins against Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi State. Alabama will now go to the NCAA tournament barring a complete collapse. JaMychal Green certainly got Grant’s message, and the Tide will go forward without Tony Mitchell, who remains suspended for the rest of the season.
5. Tennessee: Cuonzo Martin has the Vols believing in his philosophy of defense first. This team continues to be a spirited group that could be a spoiler in the SEC tournament. The numbers don’t add up in terms of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but there’s no reason to dismiss this team as a threat in New Orleans next week.
6. LSU: The Tigers are on the rebound from a disastrous two-year period. With seven league wins so far, LSU has been more than respectable. Trent Johnson has a postseason team that will benefit from playing a few extra games in March. The Tigers, like the Vols, could pose some problems at the SEC tournament in New Orleans.
7. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have lost five in a row and are one of the most perplexing teams in the SEC. Yes, Renardo Sidney has had injuries (back), but no, he can't be the only reason for the slide. Losing to Kentucky at home is acceptable. But dropping a home game to Georgia and failing to win one road game during this stretch at LSU, Auburn or Alabama is not. Still, don’t be surprised to see the Bulldogs leapfrog a number of these teams into the NCAAs because of their overall résumé.
8. Ole Miss: The Rebels humbled LSU 72-48 on Saturday. The Tigers have been more consistent, but the Rebels deserve plenty of credit for being resourceful of late. A depleted team that has had some squabbling within, the Rebs haven’t stopped playing. Ole Miss can be a spoiler in the final two weeks. What happens next in terms of the coaching position is a question for the administration.
9. Georgia: If the Bulldogs make shots, they suddenly are a viable team to be a winner in the final week of the SEC and into the conference tournament. Georgia won’t win at Kentucky, but it can beat South Carolina and finish with five SEC wins. The Bulldogs have impressive wins against Mississippi State and Florida at home.
10. Arkansas: The Hogs finally rallied and won at Auburn after a number of poor performances, including two at home. Arkansas can put forth a more efficient and productive effort. It needs to here down the stretch to salvage the rest of the season with winnable games against Ole Miss and at Mississippi State.
11. Auburn: The Tigers looked like a tough out, one that would be hard to chase down in a home win against Mississippi State. But suspensions to Varez Ward and Chris Denson for a violation of team rules didn’t help the cause in a six-point home loss to Arkansas.
12. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have won two games in the SEC. And the numbers in points, rebounds, assists and field goal percentage are all below 300 in Division I. This is a team that looks good in the airport but not on the floor.