Don’t fret SEC fans, the conference season will begin January 7th at 7pm on ESPN with back to back SEC action featuring Tennessee @ LSU and then at 9 on ESPNU Vanderbilt @ Alabama. While most analysts don’t see a lot coming from the SEC this year they will be mistaken I can assure you come March as I see 5 teams for sure in my opinion making it to the NCAA Tournament. We will begin with the Top 5 teams in the SEC.
1. Kentucky- Since going undefeated is now out of the question for this young Wildcat squad, the talent has never been better for John Calipari and I fully expect his team to run the table in the SEC if healthy. The depth on this team is remarkable considering the struggles Cal had with it last year after Nerlens Noel went down. Other than Florida I don’t see another team in the conference that can compete a full 40 minutes with the Cats if one of their starters gets in foul trouble.
2. Florida- The Gators have a phenomenal frontcourt consisting of Patric Young, Will Yeguete, Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith and South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris should be terrific, and then, don’t forget, McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker who could possibly come back at some point this season. Their backcourt is also solid with Scottie Wilbekin, McDonald’s All-American Kasey Hill and Rutgers transfer Eli Carter and tremendous play from Michael Frazier II. They should be able to get a good amount of wins in the conference and look to be the only team that can match Kentucky’s depth.
3. Tennessee- At 9-4 going into the conference schedule the Volunteers have been turning a lot of heads. Led by Senior guard Jordan McRae who is averaging almost 19 points a game for the Vols he looks to be an NBA talent for sure. Pair that with their two veteran big men Jarnell Stokes and Jernonne Maymon who are both averaging double figures in points this team has potential to make the NCAA tournament come March.
4. Missouri- Frank Heath’s squad has a lot of star power coming from their “Big 3″ so to speak with Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson, Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown in their backcourt. These guys have shown that they can really score the basketball and lead this team to some wins this season. I see some big things coming from this squad and if healthy they should be a solid 6-8 seed in the NCAA tournament and if I would not want to play a team like this in 3 months.
5. Alabama/LSU- Why do I choose two teams for the 5th team you ask? Well both of these teams have a lot of talent returning from last year and look to make a name for themselves this season. Alabama has a good returning backcourt with Trevor Releford and Levi Randolph and Retin Obasohan they can make plays and play good defense. LSU on the other hand has one of the best one-two punches in the SEC with point guard Anthony Hickey and big man Johnny O’Bryant III, pair that with shooter Andre Stringer and shot blocker Jordan Mickey they can make a big splash and could also make the NCAA tournament.
Projected All SEC First Team
G- Jordan McRae, Tennessee
G- Jordan Clarkson- Missouri
G/F- James Young- Kentucky
F- Julius Randle- Kentucky
F- Johnny O’Bryant III- LSU
Projected SEC Player Of The Year- Julius Randle
Projected SEC Coach Of The Year- John Calipari