Quite a bit of weird games and some upsets took place in the first week of the SEC basketball season. Here's how ATVS and the rest of the SEC thinks the conference looks like.
1. Florida- The Gators take the top spot for now. They could lose it or cement it depending on how this week goes.
2. Ole Miss- The Rebels are quickly becoming the talk of the SEC after beating Missouri. Can they keep it up and earn an NCAA bid?
3. Texas AM- Texas AM has now defeated both defending national champions on the road. Impressive first year for the Aggies.
4. Missouri- The Tigers should be an NCAA team, but they can't afford to drop anymore games, even if it's partially because of Bowers absence.
5. Kentucky- With every loss the Cats move closer to the bubble. The next few games are winnable and could give momentum to a team that desperately needs it.
6. Auburn- The Tigers are hot right now but we'll see how hot after a couple of tough games with Arkansas and Kentucky.
7. Arkansas- A loss to Texas AM doesn't look all that bad anymore, but they still lack a quality win.
8. Alabama- Alabama was able to pick up a win over Tennessee, but a loss to Missouri means the Tide only have one more chance at a ranked win.
9. Tennessee- It might be too early to officially write off the Vols, but it's getting close to that point.
10. Mississippi State- Surprisingly, the thin and battered Bulldogs were able to win a couple of games to start the year. Rick Ray deserves some credit after a disappointing start to the season.
11. LSU- After a soft non-conference schedule the Tigers were exposed in the first 2 games. They need the next two to keep a postseason bid in line.
12. South Carolina- Like LSU, the Gamecocks were a flop to start SEC play. Frank Martin will need to quickly regroup his team.
13. Georgia- The Dawgs could have been in the last spot but I think they have slightly more talent than Vanderbilt still.
14. Vanderbilt- The 'Dores gave Kentucky everything they could handle and could cause an NCAA rule change. For now, it's a tough loss and an embarrassment to Arkansas.
It was certainly a shake up week for my rankings. I feel good that I was somewhat ahead of the curve on Auburn, as the Tigers are hot right now and may be able to sneak away with a postseason appearance if they can keep up this level of play. I was way off on Texas AM, as the Aggies might be the second best team in the "west". There's quite a bit that can continue to change, especially since the SEC is so average this year.
1. Florida- The best team in the conference, the Gators could end up a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They didn't face any major challenges in the first week, playing Georgia and LSU. This week will be quite bit tougher with a road game against Texas A&M and the SEC game of the week against Missouri on Saturday afternoon. (Last week's ranking: 2)
2. Ole Miss- They were due for a bump in the rankings after knocking off Mizzou in Oxford over the weekend. Murphy Holloway
has been one of the best players in the SEC so far and could be a dark horse candidate to be conference player of the year (Last week's ranking: 4)
3. Missouri- The road game against Ole Miss was one of the toughest conference games that the Tigers will face all season, and it was even tougher without 5th year senior Laurence Bowers
. Bowers is still not back from his injury and may miss the weekend game in Gainesville as well. Even if Mizzou starts the conference 2-2, they can rest easy knowing the hardest games are already out of the way. (Last week's ranking: 1)
4. Texas A&M- The Aggies had a huge upset in Lexington on Saturday after senior Elston Turner
had the game of a lifetime, scoring 40 points on 14-19 shooting. No one considered the Aggies a tournament team in November, but they are 12-3. (Last week's ranking: 8)
5. Kentucky- The pre-season top 5 ranking was unwarranted, and I've criticized the merits of this year's freshmen class before. But surprisingly, Alex Poythress
has been the first-year player to struggle the most in recent games (Last week's ranking: 3)
6. Arkansas- The Razorbacks lost to A&M on the road, but they re-grouped and held Vanderbilt to 33 points. Their home match-up against Auburn on Wednesday is a must-win. (Last week's ranking: 6).
7. Alabama- The Tide defeated Tennessee at home, in one of the more competitive games of the first week of conference play, but if they intend to move up in the rankings, they'll need firepower from more than just Trevor Lacey
and Trevor Releford
. (Last week's ranking: 9)
8. Auburn- The schedule was very friendly to the Tigers in week 1. They hosted LSU and went on the road to play South Carolina. And to their credit, they won both games. However, it gets a lot harder this week with a trip to Arkansas and a home game against Kentucky. (Last week's ranking: 10)
9. Tennessee-The Vols are off to a disappointing start, dropping games against Ole Miss and Alabama. I expected a lot more from this team in the pre-season. In fact, I expected them to challenge for the 4th spot in the conference, especially with the elimination of the SEC East & West. Instead, they are struggling to post a .500 record in mid-January. (Last week's ranking: 5)
10. Mississippi State-No offense to Bulldog fans, but I doubt we'll see their team in the top 10 after this week. But to their credit, MSU knocked off South Carolina and Georgia in Week 1. Unfortunately, those may have been their two easiest conference games all season. (Last week's ranking: 14)
11. Vanderbilt- The Commodores stuck with Kentucky for all 40 minutes but could only muster 33 points against Arkansas. Despite a gutsy performance early in the week, Vandy is 6-8. (Last week's ranking: 13)
12. LSU- The Tigers played poorly against Auburn and had no chance against a depleted Florida roster. LSU has two very winnable games coming up this week against bottom-feeders South Carolina and Georgia. Both are must-wins to keep hope alive for any relevancy in March. (Last week's rating: 7)
13. South Carolina- Frank Martin knew he would be in for a long season in Columbia. At least he has Bruce Ellington
the rest of the way. (Last week's rating: 11)
14. Georgia- The Dawgs lost to Florida by 33, but the home loss to lowly Mississippi State was even worse. If could rank them 15th, I would (Last week's rating: 12).