Sec Men’s Basketball Preview
As expected, the SEC is going to be a competitive league again this year. However, it’s not just Kentucky and everybody else anymore, as five teams have a legitimate shot at winning the conference this year. In addition, John Calipari reloads with some good transfers. Therefore, Kentucky should again compete for an SEC title this year. In addition, Nate Oats has built Alabama into a powerhouse. Arkansas and Tennessee also can’t be counted out. Likewise, everybody knows Bruce Pearl at Auburn can’t be counted out, either. You also can’t forget about Florida, as Collin Castleton comes back. Also, with as many transfers as they have, it’s going to be tough to tell what they will do.
1. Arkansas – SEC Men’s Basketball
Expect more fast-paced, frenetic play from the Razorbacks. But they reload this year in a tough SEC. But with the loss of Moses Moody, who was a vital part of the Razorbacks March Madness run. Likewise, Arkansas is expecting significant improvement from Davonte Davis and Jaylin Williams. They are sophomores with the ability to raise the team significantly to the ceiling. They had a lot of players transfer, also. In addition, it might take some mixing and matching early on to find optimal combinations. But Arkansas has the experience and depth to compete for an SEC title.
2. Kentucky – SEC Men’s Basketball
A bounce-back campaign should be in store for John Calipari’s Wildcats, with seven new players supplying depth they missed last season. Furthermore, there are four transfers- Kellan Grady, Sahvir Wheeler, Oscar Tshiebwe, and CJ Fredrick. In addition, these transfers should make significant contributions, making this team one of the oldest teams Cal has coached in the last 13 seasons in Lexington. Still, though, many mix-and-matching has to go in for this team to find success as freshmen- TyTy Washington and Daimion Collins will help the Wildcats. On paper, this Wildcat team can be the best in the SEC as they have the talent, but can they mix and match it together? We shall see.
3. Alabama – SEC Men’s Basketball
Nate Oats has turned the Tide into a powerhouse in college basketball. It will be hard for them to go 16-2 this year and expect to compete still. There is no replacing Herbert Jones, and it will be hard to be an elite defensive team without him. The arrival of touted freshman Davison instantly makes Bama a more dynamic transition team. But it’s going to be hard for Alabama to compete for an SEC title this year with all they lost last year.
4. Tennessee – SEC Men’s Basketball
It’s not often a team that produces two first-round draft picks has a chance to be tangibly better the following season. But the Vols bring back four upper-level students and a high-quality transfer in Justin Powell. In my mind, five-star freshman Kennedy Chandler has to be one of the best freshman point guards I have seen in a long time. This kid’s playmaking ability and shooting are off the charts. Santiago Vescovi is another big piece in Tennessee’s backcourt, as he had a great year last year. The most significant thing for the Vols this year is if Chandler can step up and be Tennessee’s key guy to hit big shots late in games. In my option, I think he can, and Tennessee is my dark horse to win the SEC. If this team can put it all together, this team could be dangerous.
5. Auburn – SEC Men’s Basketball
Expect more for a competitive season from the Tigers, with several key additions stabilizing the roster after Sharife Cooper and JT Thore turned pro. North Carolina transfer Kessler provides size and should be due for a big season. Five-star freshman Jabari Smith raises the ceiling for the Tigers, though he may not be the team’s focal point. Johnson, Georgia transfer, should be the main point of the Tigers, and Flanigan could be back before conference play starts. He is giving Auburn plenty of firepower. This is a big athletic team that can match up with anyone.
6. Florida – SEC Men’s Basketball
This year, Florida will be an exciting team with two big transfers coming in Myron Jones (Penn State) and CJ Felder (Boston College) to take over for Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann, who they lost in the draft. Also, Colin Castleton came up big for the Gators last season, as expect him to have a strong year this year. But overall, this Florida team is just like a crystal ball as you don’t know what they will do with all the transfers.
7. Mississippi State
Consistency was an issue in a season-ending loss in the NIT title game. But the Bulldogs have some new talent that could put them back in the NCAA Tournament. Top scorer Iverson Molinar is back and a few high-end transfers, so this should be a good year for the Bulldogs.
The Tigers had a great year last year, and they were a shot away from winning the SEC Tournament. And gave No. 1 seed Michigan all they wanted in the NCAA Tournament last season, but the loss of key players, the Tigers, shouldn’t be as good this year. So this should be a rebuilding year for the Tigers.
9. Ole Miss
Ole Miss has the school’s first-ever McDonald’s All-American coming in this year in Daeshun Ruffin. This year, this Ole Miss team could surprise some people as they are very physical and play great defense. So expect Ole Miss to have another trip to the dance this year.
10. Texas A&M
Last year was a complete disaster for Buzz Williams with COVID-19 shutdowns to power blackouts. Newcomers will be an essential part this year if Buzz Williams wants to take his team to the dance, but with Buzz William’s teams, you just never know because his teams always play physical defense.
Vanderbilt is going to be one of those exciting teams coming into this year. Scotty Pippen Jr has opted to return, which will help Vanderbilt, this team doesn’t have a lot of depth which will hurt them when the season starts. I think Jerry Stackhouse is the guy to turn this program around. But he needs a couple of more years.
The Tigers flashed last year with wins over top-10 teams like Illinois, Tennessee, and Alabama. But they struggled down the stretch, and they were also in the bottom half of the SEC recruiting cycle, but they did get a couple of players from the transfer market. But expect a rebuilding year for Missouri as they don’t have the depth.
13. South Carolina
2017 Final Four run feels more distant coming off a 6-15 season that included just one win after the first week of February. But as we all know, Frank Martin always gets the most out of what he as but he doesn’t have a lot this year. So don’t expect South Carolina to do a whole lot this year, but as I said about Frank Martin teams, you just never know.
Help came from the portal in Jabri Abdur-Rahim (Virginia) and Aaron Cook (Gonzaga via Southern Illinois). But it will be tough sledding again in Year 4 under Tom Crean.
Check Out Our Shop
Check Out Our Twitter