The SEC is poised to have a good showing during the 2021-22 basketball season and should add to last year’s success.
In the current week’s AP Poll, the SEC has five teams ranked in the top-25 with another team receiving votes.
All of the recent big-time hires from SEC programs are proof that ADs are cracking down on basketball mediocrity and are looking to fill up the trophy case.
This is how I would rank the SEC’s men’s basketball teams for the 2021-22 season.
14. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia coach Tom Crean reacts during an NCAA basketball game between FIU and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Georgia won 58-51.
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The Georgia Bulldogs are without nearly every producer from last season’s team after losing their top six scorers and four former top 100 prospects. If coach Tom Crean couldn’t win with what he had last season, I don’t see it being any different this year with less.
13. Texas A&M Aggies
Jan 6, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Texas A&M Aggies head coach Buzz Williams directs his team against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M couldn’t take down a mid-tier WAC opponent in regulation, needing two overtimes to take down the Wildcats.
It’s not a great outlook for the Aggies this season. Henry Coleman III is looking to be the best guy on the team, but he can’t do it on his own.
12. South Carolina Gamecocks
Nov 9, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard Devin Carter (23) drives around South Carolina Upstate Spartans guard/forward Bryson Mozone (5) in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Devin Carter is the only bright spot on a very bleak outlook for South Carolina basketball this season. Losing AJ Lawson to the NBA didn’t help, but even he couldn’t bring this team to beyond sub-.500. I don’t look for the Gamecocks to have another season like 2017 anytime soon.
11. Missouri Tigers
Missouri forward Kobe Brown (24) dunks against Arkansas during the second half of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 12, 2021.
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Kobe Brown and Javon Pickett are the only two Missouri Tigers coming back that played minutes last season. Other than that, Xavier Pinson, their shotmaker, transferred to LSU. Ball State transfer Jarron Coleman should give the Tigers some decent minutes. Don’t believe they’ll finish SEC play above .500.
10. Vanderbilt Commodores
Nov 10, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) passes the ball during the first half against the Alabama State Hornets at Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s forget the SEC’s best player, Scotty Pippen Jr, for just a moment. Consider who’s around him. There isn’t much. The Commodores don’t have enough to offset the losses of Dylan Disu and Maxwell Evans. I can’t see myself putting them any higher in the rankings as of now. Although they did blow out both of their opponents this season, they’re potentially playing without a couple of difference makers in Liam Robbins and Rodney Chambers for most of the season, if not all.
9. Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss guard Luis Rodriguez (15) looks to pass against LSU during the second half of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 12, 2021.
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Ole Miss’ scoring offense has been lights out to start the year, much like their football team’s. The Rebels rank in the top half of the conference in scoring, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage.
Keeping up at their current pace will prove to be difficult for the Rebels, but they definitely have room to improve upon their ranking as the season progresses.
8. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mar 12, 2021; Nashville, TN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Ben Howland looks at the scoreboard as his team trails at the half against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State is just good enough to be a middle-of-the-pack SEC team. Iverson Molinar is due for a great year and the cast around him is decent. While the starting lineup is solid, what about the bench? That’s my question mark regarding the Bulldogs early in the season.
7. LSU Tigers
Nov 9, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Will Wade smiles as he listens to the student section against Louisiana Monroe Warhawks during the second half at Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
This LSU Tigers offense is capable of exploding and Darius Days does not miss. After beating ULM by 60+ in their opener, the Bayou Bengals struggled with Texas State for a bit more than half of the game. Will Wade’s squad this season can do some damage, but they have a lot to improve upon.
6. Auburn Tigers
Nov 12, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl reacts to a play during the second half against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn is playing well, even without their best player in Allen Flanigan. who is expected to be good to go next month. Jabari Smith looks good and the transfers are beginning to find their way with the team. The Tigers can cause some disruptions if they play to their potential.
5. Arkansas Razorbacks
Nov 17, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman shouts to his players in the second half against the UNI Panthers at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas won 93-80. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
The Razorbacks had some struggles on opening night and trailed by eight at the half against Mercer, but bounced back to win by 13. The offense wasn’t great in the opener or the preseason for Arkansas, but they got it going well against Gardner-Webb.
Arkansas gets one more tune-up before facing a step up in competition at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City during Thanksgiving week.
4. Florida Gators
Nov 14, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators forward Colin Castleton (12) reacts after a rebound during the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Billy Donovan Court at Exactech Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
The Gators started the season with a huge question mark surrounding Keyontae Johnson and the void left by him. So far, Florida doesn’t seem fazed. The Gators finally found the win column against the Florida State Seminoles and are firing on all cylinders early.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
Nov 9, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard JD Davison (3) goes up for a dunk against Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama may have already endured adversity early in the season after struggling against the South Alabama Jaguars for two halves on Tuesday. Prior to the 73-68 win, the Crimson Tide dominated Louisiana Tech 93-64 to open the season and 104-88 against South Dakota State.
Things will begin to tense up as we get closer to the Crimson Tide’s gauntlet in December.
2. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky’s Sahvir Wheeler makes two against Mount St. Mary’s Malik Jefferson. Nov. 16 2021
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Kentucky is every bit as good as they look this year. Sure, they couldn’t beat Duke, but I’m not sure that I can use my whole hand to count the teams that could beat them. Sahvir Wheeler showed that he was ready and could really distribute with talented teammates around him. Duke’s freshman phenom Trevor Keels was able to get to the basket at will. His physicality was a problem for UK.
1. Tennessee Vols
Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler (1)holds a ball during practice in Pratt Pavilion, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.
As much as it pains me to say it, this Tennessee team looks very good right now. While they haven’t played a quality opponent as of yet, the schedule will be ramping up as early as this Saturday when the Vols take on No. 5 Villanova. Kennedy Chandler is proving to be an every-man and Olivier Nkamhoua is averaging a double-double through 2 games at 17 and 11.
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