Bama Hoops Hype

SEC Power Rankings: Alabama Sits in 7th as Auburn Earns Top Spot

Alabama Men's Basketball

It did not take long for the SEC to gain national attention for this season in college basketball. Teams like Kentucky, Texas A&M and Florida have all reached into the top 10 already this season but the league has really shown its depth. Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas have all reach the AP Top 25 as well.

However, since conference play has started, the SEC has begun to turn itself upside down. As it happens each season, the teams have been beating up on each other and there is now just one team that is unbeaten in the conference slate. Auburn was mocked for playing a weak non-conference schedule but it currently stands alone at the top of SEC standings. Texas A&M, who finished non-conference play as the nation’s 5th-ranked team, has now lost five consecutive games and is the only team without a conference win.

ESPN has eight teams from the conference in the NCAA Tournament right now, which is the second most bids among all conferences. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports currently has seven SEC teams in, which is everyone that the ESPN Bracketology has minus Alabama.

So with roughly a quarter of SEC play behind us, we break down each team in this edition of the power rankings.

1. Auburn Tigers – 16-1, 4-0 in SEC │6th in NCAA RPI │17th in AP Poll

Auburn entered the season under turmoil but the Tigers have certainly responded. Head coach Bruce Pearl lost Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley to indefinite suspensions at the beginning of the season. However, the team now has six different players that are averaging at least 18 minutes and 7 points per game. Auburn is only one of three 1-loss teams in the country. The Tigers have won 14 games in a row and have moved up to a 4-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology. Auburn has the highest scoring offense in the SEC and already have quality wins over Tennessee and Arkansas. This team looks legit.

This week: at Alabama (Wed.) and Georgia (Sat.)

2. Kentucky Wildcats – 14-3, 4-1 in SEC │10th in NCAA RPI │18th in AP Poll

It’s not a huge surprise that Kentucky is not at the top of this list but it is a surprise who it is behind. The Wildcats have neutral site losses to Kansas and UCLA and a road loss to Tennessee. Those losses are certainly excusable, especially for a team of freshmen, so this team likely still expects to finish atop of the standings at the end of the regular season. Kentucky has five freshmen averaging at least 10 points per game. This team may not have the star power that past John Calipari teams have had but they are already starting to play well together and have somehow managed to finish close games in SEC play. And if you’ve watched Coach Calipari before, you know his teams typically only get better.

This week: at South Carolina (Tues.) and Florida (Sat.)

3. Florida Gators – 12-5, 4-1 in SEC │40th in NCAA RPI 

Florida’s loss to Ole Miss on Saturday ended a six game winning streak for the Gators. This team has been very streaky so far this season – starting 5-0, losing 4 of 5, winning 6 in a row – but you should not expect this loss to set Florida back at all. The Gators are more experienced than many of the top SEC teams and are led by one of the best senior guards in the country in Chris Chiozza. Florida has made the most 3-pointers in the SEC and have five different players that average at least one make from beyond the arc per game. High powered offenses is what this new SEC is about and Florida is just another example of that.

This week: Arkansas (Wed.) and at Kentucky (Sat.)

4. Tennessee Volunteers – 12-4, 3-2 in SEC │13th in NCAA RPI │21st in AP Poll

Tennessee has bounced back from a 0-2 start in conference play with wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M. The Volunteers are being led by Grant Williams, who is one of the favorites for SEC Player of the Year. The sophomore is averaging team highs with 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game. As a team, Tennessee is averaging 84 points per game in SEC play, which ranks second in the conference. However, the team is allowing 80 points per game which is the worst in the SEC. The Volunteers will certainly be an exciting team to watch this year but it is hard to see where they will finish.

This week: at Missouri (Wed.) and at South Carolina (Sat.)

5. Arkansas Razorbacks – 12-5, 2-3 in SEC │21st in NCAA RPI 

Arkansas may not deserve to be in this spot based off what we have seen from it in conference play but the Razorbacks still look like a team that can make noise in the postseason. They have two 2-point wins sandwiched around a 3-game losing streak. The most surprising game of SEC play so far may be LSU’s 21-point win in Fayetteville. Arkansas has definitely been inconsistent and things do not seem to be getting any easier for them over the next three weeks. However, Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon could be the best backcourt in the conference and can still lead this team to a top-4 finish in the SEC.

This week: at Florida (Wed.) and Ole Miss (Sat.)

6. Missouri Tigers – 12-5, 2-2 in SEC │35th in NCAA RPI 

For a team that lost a talent like Michael Porter Jr. after just one game, the Tigers have had a pretty successful season. Missouri finished 14th in the conference last season but it was expected to take a big jump this season. This team plays at a very slow pace and does a good job of forcing its opponents into low scoring games. Missouri’s two losses in SEC play are by a combined 4 points. The Tigers are certainly in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid and could make a push for the regular season conference title.

This week: Tennessee (Wed.) and at Texas A&M (Sat.)

7. Alabama Crimson Tide – 11-6, 3-2 in SEC │39th in NCAA RPI 

Alabama got a big win over the weekend in Baton Rouge and are looking to get back to the level of the team’s preseason expectations. The Crimson Tide are about to begin a home stand in which they play four of five games in Coleman Coliseum. Avery Johnson’s team probably has one of the toughest five game stretches in the country to finish the season so now is the time for this team to make a move. Winning these games at home would certainly help build confidence going forward but if the inconsistencies still show, it could end up being a long season for the Tide.

This week: Auburn (Wed.) and Mississippi State (Sat.)

8. Georgia Bulldogs – 11-5, 2-3 in SEC │56th in NCAA RPI 

Yante Maten is looking like the front runner for SEC Player of the Year but Georgia needs more production from the rest of its team. The Bulldogs have the worst scoring offense in the SEC. They have scored more than 65 points just once in conference play and are shooting 37.7 percent in those five games. However, Georgia counters that with the league’s best defense. If Maten can stay healthy and get a little bit of help on the offensive end, Georgia could be a threat to the top of the SEC.

This week: at LSU (Tues.) and at Auburn (Sat.)

9. LSU Tigers – 11-5, 2-2 in SEC │65th in NCAA RPI 

LSU has had one of those rare starts to conference play in which its 2-0 on the road and 0-2 at home. It is currently listed as one of the first four teams out in Lunardi’s Bracketology. Losses to Kentucky and Alabama are certainly excusable but the Tigers will need to do a better job of protecting its home court if they want to move up in these rankings. They get visits from Georgia and Texas A&M before the end of the month. Those are definitely winnable games for Will Wade’s squad and could make a big difference for a possible push into the NCAA Tournament.

This week: Georgia (Tues.) and at Vanderbilt (Sat.)

10. Mississippi Rebels – 10-7, 3-2 in SEC │91st in NCAA RPI 

The Rebels are tied for fourth in the conference standings that actually matter and are coming off their best win – 78-72 over Florida – of the season. However, the underwhelming non-conference record is still there and it’s hard to believe that this team will finish above .500 in conference play. Ole Miss has rather average numbers across the board but since SEC play started, it has showed its strength is rebounding. The Rebels are second in the league in total rebounds. For a team that plays just one player over 6’8”, that is pretty impressive.

This week: at Texas A&M (Tues.) and at Arkansas (Sat.)

11. Texas A&M Aggies – 11-6, 0-5 in SEC │33rd in NCAA RPI 

Texas A&M has certainly been struggling with things off the court but no one expected the Aggies to be in this position. The winless start to conference play is disappointing but the Aggies still have the talent to make a push toward the top half of the standings. If Billy Kennedy can get his team to respond a little better, they are capable of beating anyone in the SEC.

This week: Ole Miss (Tues.) and Missouri (Sat.)

12. South Carolina Gamecocks – 11-6, 2-3 in SEC │55th in NCAA RPI 

Chris Silva is looking like an All-SEC player so far this season, averaging 14.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s defense has forced more turnovers than any other team in conference play. The Gamecocks may not be making it back to the Final Four this season but they also will not be an easy win for any team this season.

This week: Kentucky (Tues.) and Tennessee (Sat.)

13. Mississippi State Bulldogs – 13-4, 1-3 in SEC │75th in NCAA RPI 

The Bulldogs are shooting an astonishing 57 percent on 2-point field goals this season but have already taken a massive step back during conference play. Ben Howland’s team is shooting just 48 percent inside the arc in its four SEC games. To go along with that, Mississippi State is shooting a conference-worst 23 percent on 3-pointers.  The Bulldogs got 12 wins during one of the country’s easiest non-conference schedules but you should not expect them to make much of a push in SEC play.

This week: Vanderbilt (Tues.) and at Alabama (Sat.)

14. Vanderbilt Commodores – 6-11, 1-4 in SEC │148th in NCAA RPI 

The Commodores are probably a little bit better than their record shows up but you still have to win some games at some point. And right now, Vanderbilt’s win over Alabama is looking like it could end up being its only win in conference play.

This week: at Mississippi State (Tues.) and LSU (Sat.)

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @CalebTurrentine.

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