With the pre-conference portion of the schedule complete and the SEC slate ready to tip-off with the New Year, I thought now would be a good time to post some predictions on how we think the conference standings will play out.
1. Tennessee- Their only loss was in a close game to Kansas. They've played a brutal schedule and beat Gonzaga. Rick Barnes has the team to beat in the league this year.
2. Kentucky- Perpetually young and super talented, they will drop a couple on the road early in conference play and ultimately finish a game or two behind the Vols. They seem to be getting it together after their loss with impressive wins over Louisville and UNC in their last 2 games.
3. auburn- As much as it pains me to say it, they are a legit top 20 team, and are capable of beating anyone in the country on a given night. They rely a bit too much on the 3 and will have a few off nights that will get them beat. We've already seen this when a bad UAB team took them to overtime and they lost to NC State on the road.
4. Mississippi $tate- At 12-1 with a handful of quality if not great wins, it seems Howland is finally getting some production out of all the talent he's recruited there. It's going to be painful watching ut, au, and m$u all get double-byes in the SEC tournament, but unfortunately that's how I see it shaking out.
5. LSU- 10-3 against a solid schedule, Will Wade's team has been ranked in the top 25 for much of the season, and they have a couple of wins over ranked teams already. The days of Johnny Jones wasting talent down there appear to be long gone.
Note: I think there's a big gap here and the next 5 are more or less interchangeable.
6. Florida- 8-4 against a tough schedule. They have two wins over Butler but were blown out by rival Florida State. If they continue to develop, they could challenge the top tier teams for one of the top 4 spots.
7. Ole Miss- They are 10-2 following the pre-season Canada trip that we did last season. It's hard to get a read on them because they haven't really played anybody, but their two losses were at Butler and Cincinnati, two decent teams, and they've won most of their other games in convincing fashion.
8. Alabama- Depending on where the wins come, this likely puts us squarely on the bubble. Same as it ever was.
9. Mizzou- Once again dealing with an early injury to their best player, they've won 6 in a row to get to 9-3 including decent wins over UCF, Xavier, and Illinois.
10. Arkansas- 9-3 against a weak schedule. I expect them to be tough at home as usual, but a young team that will struggle a bit away from Bud Walton.
11. Texas A&M- 6-5 against a pretty tough schedule, but they were blown out by Texas Southern.
12. Vandy- They are 9-3 against a weak schedule, but they do have a nice win over Arizona State. I should probably have them higher than this because they will win some games they shouldn't in that goofy gym of theirs.
13. Georgia- 8-4 but against a weak schedule. They were blown out by Georgia State. I watched them scrimmage against UAB and was not impressed. I expect it to be a difficult year for Tom Crean.
14. South Carolina- They played Michigan relatively close, but were blown out by Wofford and currently sit at 5-7. It's a rebuilding year for Martin's squad.