2017-18 College Basketball Preview: SEC
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing a preview of each of the seven major college basketball conferences (American, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12, SEC), leading up to the November 10th tip-off of the 2017-2018 College Basketball season. You can access previous previews by clicking on the conference name. Today, we’re going to dive into our final conference, the SEC.
Brief History: The Southeastern Conference was established in 1932, and ten of the founding members have remained with the conference ever since. They have a combined 11 basketball national championships between their 14 member schools. The SEC has been led by commissioner Greg Sankey since 2015.
Reigning Regular Season Champion: Kentucky
Reigning Conference Tournament Champion: Kentucky
2017 NCAA Tournament Teams (and Seed): Kentucky (2), Florida (4), South Carolina (7), Arkansas (8), Vanderbilt (9)
- Kentucky – The Wildcats look like they’re set up for another banner year, with one of the top offenses and defenses in the nation. As with every season it seems, this is a young team, but the roster is filled with future NBA talent.
- Florida – The Gators may have the strongest defense in the nation. The good thing about a strong defense is that it’s usually consistent, and any offense can get hot at any time to complement it if shots begin to fall. Expect Florida to be in the race to win the conference.
- Texas A&M – The Aggies have a great front court, but still have a few question marks remaining with the rest of the team. We do know, however, that this is another strong defensive team with plenty of talent.
- Alabama – Continuing the trend of strong defense is the Crimson Tide. There’s two big question marks on this team, however, with Braxton Key suffering from a knee injury, and Collin Sexton still not being ruled eligible to play by the NCAA yet. Once they get those issues figured out, this team should be good to go.
- Vanderbilt – We finally have another team who’s balanced both offensively and defensively. This team has plenty of experience. The big question mark for this team is how they fill the spot of 7’1″ C Luke Kornet, who left the Commodores for the NBA last season.
- South Carolina – The Cinderella who shocked the nation by finishing in the Final Four last season will certainly look a lot different this year, returning less than 40% of their minutes, but I have no doubt that the Gamecocks will use their new talent to find a way to compete.
- Auburn – This team has a talented roster, with solid strength offensively. The biggest issue for this team will be how well they can escape the FBI investigation into the program, and how well some of the new coaching staff can adapt last minute.
- Tennessee – This team’s season could be made or broken by their early trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. They could end up dancing if they perform well there. This isn’t by any means the most talented roster in the SEC, but they’ve got a solid coach and plenty of opportunities to prove themselves.
- Arkansas – This team is much stronger offensively than defensively, but they still have a lot of question marks with some unproven players. We can definitely expect them to be involved in some shootouts, however.
- Missouri – Michael Porter, Jr. is a name to remember. He’s the best player in the conference, and will almost undoubtedly find himself being picked in the lottery portion of the NBA Draft in 2018. The question is how his teammates will be able to perform around him.
- Mississippi State – The Bulldogs are yet another team that continues the trend of strong defense in this conference. This is a team that could potentially make the tournament by getting hot at the right time, but I see them on the wrong side of the bubble.
- Ole Miss – The Rebels are strong offensively, but their defense isn’t on par with the rest of the teams in the conference. They have great players outside, but their ability to hang with the rest of the SEC will depend on their play in the paint.
- Georgia – The Bulldogs actually have one of the stronger defensive teams in the conference, but their offense will get absolutely picked apart by the other teams in the SEC. They have a lot of young talent, but this isn’t their year.
- LSU – This team is going to really struggle through what continues to be a rebuilding process for the Tigers. They’re weak offensively, and significantly weaker defensively. It’s going to be a long season for the Bayou Boys.
Bottom Line: This is one of the better groups of teams we’ve seen from the SEC in recent history, with all 14 teams landing in the top 100 of KenPom’s rankings. There’s definitely some room for chaos both at the top of the conference and in the middle of the pack. Come March, we’ll likely see the SEC well-represented.