Southeast Conference Power Rankings (Next three games and predictions):
1. Tennessee (5-1)- 12/3 UNC Asheville (W), 12/13 at Temple (W), 12/16 Marquette (W)
2. Florida (5-1)- 12/2 Florida A&M (W), 12/7 at Florida State (W), 12/10 Florida Gulf Coast (W)
3. Louisiana State (5-0)- 12/2 Cal State Fullerton (W), 12/13 Grambling (W), 12/17 Nicholls State (W)
4. Kentucky (4-2)- 12/3 Lamar (W), 12/6 Miami FL (L), 12/7 Mississippi Valley State (W)
5. Mississippi State (5-2)- 12/6 Alabama State (W), 12/10 Charlotte (W), 12/13 South Alabama (W)
6. Ole Miss (5-1)- 12/3 West Virginia (L), 12/6 at New Orleans (W), 12/13 at New Mexico (W)
7. Vanderbilt (5-1)- 12/3 Illinois-Chicago (W), 12/6 at Georgia Tech (W), 12/10 Alabama A&M (W)
8. Georgia (5-1)- 12/2 at Western Kentucky (L), 12/6 at Illinois (L), 12/9 Virginia Tech (L)
9. South Carolina (4-1)- 12/2 at Princeton (W), 12/5 Furman (W), 12/16 North Carolina Central (W)
10. Arkansas (4-1)- 12/3 Texas Southern (W), 12/10 North Carolina Central (W), 12/17 Austin Peay (W)
11. Alabama (3-2)- 12/2 Alabama A&M (W), 12/6 at UL Lafayette (W), 12/13 Texas A&M (L)
12. Auburn (3-3)- 12/3 at Xavier (L), 12/6 Louisiana Monroe (W), 12/17 Tuskegee (W)
Final Four Contenders:
Tennessee Volunteers: The Vols are a long way from a trip to the Final Four, but with Coach Bruce Pearl, and great players like Wayne Chism, Tyler Smith, JP Prince, Cameron Tatum, and Scotty Hopson it is still possible that Tennessee could turn it on in March. Holding them back are a lack of size- as we saw in the Gonzaga game they had problems stopping the Bulldogs’ big men- and the SEC being on a down year hurts their overall resume. They have some big tests coming up- a game against Marquette at home and then a rematch with Gonzaga in Knoxville.
Star Player: Tyler Smith- 18.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.5 APG
Sweet 16 Contenders:
Florida Gators: Billy Donovan and the Gators suffered their first loss in the semifinal round of the CBE Classic, but they won’t have any trouble bouncing back because their next tough game will be during the Southeastern Conference season against Tennessee. Nick Calathes, Alex Tyus, and Dan Werner round out Florida’s strong frontcourt, but their lack of great guard play will affect them later in the season.
Star Player: Nick Calathes- 16 PPG, 6.3 APG, 39.3 3 PT%
Louisiana State Tigers: Trent Johnson is off to a great start in his inaugural season with LSU, but they may be this year’s Mississippi (or Clemson two seasons ago) and just be benefiting from a very easy non- conference schedule. This team could be very exposed when they start to play quality opponents.
Star Player: Marcus Thornton- 15.8 PPG
Kentucky Wildcats: That was a huge win over West Virginia in Las Vegas. Hopefully for the Wildcats it will spark some consistent play, and they will be able to forget those early season losses. The Wildcats are still very much alive despite being embarrassed once again early in the season on their home court. Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are one of the best 1-2 combos that this conference has to offer, and maybe Billy Gillespie can get off the hot seat with a good SEC run.
Star Player: Jodie Meeks- 25.5 PPG
Mississippi State Bulldogs: Jarvis Varnado is probably the best big man in the conference and can really help the Bulldogs, especially against great forwards in the SEC like Wayne Chism and Patrick Patterson. Mississippi State has a relatively tough non-conference schedule, which will help them when they are looking to get back to the NCAA tournament and sitting on the bubble.
Star Player: Jarvis Varnado- 10.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 6.1 BPG
The Rest of the Conference:
All of the teams that are not in the top five of the SEC would probably finish last in the Big East this season and have a lot of trouble just treading water in any conference. Vanderbilt can be great next season, but this year they are rebuilding, and Georgia is looking to surprise once again. But the bottom line for the SEC middle of the pack teams is probably the NIT or CBI in March.