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FoxSports’ Early Top 25 Hoops Picks

It’s never too early for preseason polls, apparently.  And we’re not even talking about football.

Jeff Goodman of posted his way early Top 25 basketball picks late last week.  Among them are four SEC squads, two of which are in his Top 10:

2.  Kentucky — “The top-ranked incoming class in America, along with the return of a trio of holdovers — including (Terrence) Jones — make the Wildcats the co-favorites along with UNC.”  (Goodman, obviously, ranks the Tar Heels in the top slot.)

8.  Vanderbilt — “The Commodores have everyone back except for (Andre) Walker, which means they are a legitimate top-10 club.”

14.  Florida — “The Gators have talent, but it will be interesting to see how Billy Donovan’s team will fare with a bunch of guards who all love.”  “Who all love?”  We’ll assume Goodman’s last words in that sentence were meant to be “to shoot,” but that’s just an educated guess considering the number of scorers UF should have in its backcourt next season.

21.  Alabama — “Anthony Grant returns his top three players from last year’s team, which barely missed out on an NCAA Tournament bid.”

That’s it, folks.  Four and done.  No other SEC team even makes Goodman’s 12-team “others to watch” list.

And while the SEC West has three teams listed in most preseason Top 15 football polls… it’s the SEC East that continues to land three squads in the Top 15 of most basketball pundits’ picks.

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SEC Headlines – 1/17/11 Part Two

1.  Poor free-throw shooting is catching up with Florida.

2.  Will Muschamp is already 2-0 in Gainesville.

3.  Kentucky’s Jon Hood is making strides.

4.  It’s a balancing act for Brandon Knight the great shooter and Brandon Knight the Wildcat point guard and distributor.

5.  Lute Olson says it was “very unprofessional” for John Calipari to take DeMarcus Cousins and Darnell Dodson with him from Memphis to Kentucky last year.  (If Cal ever takes recruits from UK to another school, Cat fans will say the same.)

6.  Bruce Ellington was the difference for South Carolina in a win at Florida on Saturday.

7.  Bruce Pearl says Stegeman Coliseum in Athens is “going to be the most hostile environment we’ve been in this year.”

8.  Trey Thompkins will be a big challenge for the Volunteers.

9.  Vol linebacker Herman Lathers has undergone shoulder surgery.

10.  Junior forward Andre Walker is expected to return for Vanderbilt at some point this season… but next season is up in the air.

11.  Vandy football coaches believe success is closer than most people think. 

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SEC Headlines – 12/30/10 Part One

1.  Things have quieted down in Gainesville during the transition from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp.

2.  This writer believes Muschamp’s offensive and defensive coordinators “likely are coaching in the NFL at the moment.”

3.  Florida’s quarterback job is up in the air for Saturday’s bowl and beyond.

4.  One overlooked aspect of the Outback Bowl — Penn State offensive coordinator Galen Hall was once Florida’s head coach.

5.  UCF players are viewing tomorrow’s Liberty Bowl with Georgia as “our Super Bowl.”  Here’s guessing UGA’s players aren’t so motivated.

6.  Linebacker Justin Houston knows he needs to start thinking about his stay-or-go-pro decision soon.

7.  Backup safety/linebacker Nick Williams is seeking a transfer from Athens.

8.  Folks in the Peach State are still debating whether or not players should be allowed to sell their jerseys… and the debate includes a UGA player and the school’s new AD.

9.  This writer says the arrival of John Calipari has actually been good for Louisville’s Rick Pitino. 

10.  This scribe also believes Pitino has risen to Coach Cal’s challenge.

11.  When the two coaches clash tomorrow, the ref who ejected Calipari from UK’s game with Mississippi Valley State will be working the floor.  Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnn.

12.  Former U of L player Kenny Payne never thought he be a Wildcat working on Calipari’s staff.

13.  Could this year’s 9-4 squad really be South Carolina’s best team ever?

14.  Steve Spurrier says a lot has changed since he last faced Florida State in 2001… but he still doesn’t want to hear the “Tomahawk Chop” chant all night long.

15.  Starting left guard Garrett Chisholm is expected to miss tomorrow’s Chick-fil-A Bowl due to a sprained knee.

16.  USC is preparing to see multiple quarterbacks from FSU.

17.  The Gamecock basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak with a 56-49 win over Jacksonville State last night.

18.  LP Field in Nashville will turn into Knoxville West for tonight’s Music City Bowl.

19.  Here are five keys for the Volunteers today.

20.  Two rough seasons come to a close when UT faces North Carolina.

21.  Bruce Pearl’s Vols slipped by UT-Martin 68-62 last night.  On Monday the Skyhawks lost 100-40 at Ohio State.

22.  After a great start to the season, Tennessee is getting used to close calls and hard-fought battles against mid-majors and ne’er-do-wells.

23.  Without Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt still toppled Marquette 77-76 last night on an Andre Walker layup with 4 seconds to play.

24.  Goulbourne’s two-game suspension is now up.

25.  John Jenkins’ shot “has just gotten a little flat,” according to Kevin Stallings.

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Vanderbilt-App. State notes

Starting Lineup• Vanderbilt started sophomore John Jenkins, as well as juniors Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley at guard…red-shirt juniors Festus Ezeli and Andre Walker started at center and guard, respectively…this is the fifth time this season and sixth time total that Vanderbilt has used this starting lineup.• Jeffery Taylor leads the team with 70 career starts…Brad Tinsley is making his 61st career start while Andre Walker is starting for the 38th time…Festus Ezeli is appearing in his 67th game, including his 17th start…John Jenkins has made 13 starts and played in 37 games.

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