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How Much Better Will SEC Hoops Be Next Season? Uh, Probably Not Much

crystal-ball-fortune-teller2Now that declaration day for the NBA draft has come and gone, you can expect to see a lot of way-too-early, pre-preseason college basketball polls popping up from site to site.  CBSSports.com has posted theirs today.

According to Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish, SEC fans shouldn’t expect much more in terms of ranked teams than they witnessed last year.  Here’s the rundown for CBSSports.com’s top 25:

 

1.  Kentucky

5.  Florida

17.  Tennessee

 

And, well, that’s it.  Three ranked teams and no more.

Now, again, this is incredibly early and preseason polls typically aren’t worth the pixels they’re displayed upon — Kentucky was #1 in several polls last year, too.  But if you’re looking to set your SEC expectations for 2013-14, you might want to place it kinda low.  Again.

 


6 comments
mutigersbball
mutigersbball

I'm a bit of a contrarian here, but I actually don't even think UK is the favorite to win the SEC. When you look at what Florida is returning, and the fact that Billy Donovan is their coach, all the time I'm leaning more towards the Gators being the top team in the SEC, at least in the preseason. We can say all we want about "greatest recruiting class ever" but that will be proven when they demonstrate that in tough games against the elite of the league next year-and not a moment before. Kentucky should be really good by the time it's over, but with the exception of 2012, when you're dealing with freshman, you're gonna start slow. Don't be shocked to see them lose a few games out of conference, before they get going and finally challenge Florida later in the season. What's a lot more important to me than their incoming recruiting class is how well their returners can develop into the "upperclassmen" leaders that have aided the freshman and made the program successful in the past. If that doesn't happen, Kentucky could easily underperform and lose 7-8 games next season, great recruiting class and all.

But they will NOT be in the NIT. That I feel confident saying.

KellyJones2
KellyJones2

@mutigersbball Good points and agreed if Poythress and WCS do not get more fire in their belly.  The competition from these freshmen will make or break them.  Wiltjer is not as important to develop because UK is so loaded at his position, and they now have some tremendous shooters on the wing (Aaron Harrison and James Young).  All that said, if Andrew Wiggins signs on to Kentucky, it is game over.  Even the most skeptical analysts about UK (namely Seth Davis) agree on that.  We shall see!

KellyJones2
KellyJones2

If "good" means like the B1G, which has won a single championship in a little over 20 years, then this is correct.  I would rather send three teams to the tournament and the SEC win it than send 7 teams that are not built to win it.  Have 2 of the top 5 teams is tremendous for the SEC's chances to have a title contender.  Kentucky is going to be crazy good... anybody watch these HS all star games?  Julius Randle and the Harrison twins' win-at-all cost mentality will be a pleasant departure from last year's squad.

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

The Hogs will be in the Dance. Probably not top 25, but dancing. Missouri, Alabama, or LSU will take the 5th spot, maybe the 6th as well. South Carolina and Vanderbilt should be improved and Ole Miss won't drop off too much with Henderson coming back.

mutigersbball
mutigersbball like.author.displayName 1 Like

Three ranked teams would be a nice improvement over last year with just one ranked team at the end of the season....If both Kentucky and Florida can live up to top-five expectations, then the top of the league should be really good. I think Tennessee is about right at #17. But even though Trevor Lacy left Alabama, they still have quite a bit coming back from a pretty solid team last season. I think they'll be a fourth tournament team, and in/around the lower reaches of the top 25 much of the year. Vandy improved a lot in the second half of last season and seemingly will return everyone. Kevin Stallings is a quality coach and I would be pretty surprised if they were not the fifth team in the tourney. Ole Miss has Marshall Henderson back, and will dangerous. And you can't count out Mizzou, even with the loss of Phil Pressey. Our guards should be really good, between Earnest Ross, Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson, and Wes Clark. Our frontcourt will probably determine whether we get back to the tournament, and that's going to fall largely on highly rated incoming recruit Johnathan Williams III. And LSU returns almost everyone from a team that won 19 games.


So I can name 8 teams right now that I think have a legitimate chance to make the tourney. All eight won't make it, of course. Missouri, Ole Miss, and LSU are all questionable and probably have something like a 30-40% chance to get in. But I think we'll see 5-6 teams in and some elite teams at the top. I do think the expectations should be pretty high for the conference heading into next year. The Big Ten should still be pretty strong, and the ACC should be much better with Syracuse and Pitt. But after that, the Big 12 looks to be very down, and the Pac-12 probably isn't a serious factor beyond Arizona. I don't think either of the "Big Easts" (the actual Big East or the American Athletic Conference) will have much depth behind 3-4 tournament teams each. So I think the SEC should expect to slide in behind the Big Ten and ACC as the third best conference next season. Anything less would be a huge disappointment.

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