NCAAM SEC mid-season grades

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The SEC has garnered national attention all season long by having some of the best basketball teams in the nation. In a conference that is historically known for its football programs, the SEC seems to have a leg up on the rest of the NCAA ahead of the NCAA tournament with five schools in the AP Top 25 being from within the conference.

How does the conference stack-up at this point in the season as a whole?

(3) Tennessee – Averaging a conference-high 87 points through their three conference games this season, Tennessee has emerged as one of the odds-on favorites to make it to the final four this season. Behind Player of the Year candidate Grant Williams, the Volunteers rely on their strength and depth to win games. Barring an overtime loss to top-ranked Kansas, Tennessee would be sitting at No. 1 in the AP Top 25. If Tennessee can stay healthy and avoid slipping up against Auburn, Kentucky and other conference foes closer to March, they will be in prime position to make a run at the final four.

Mid-season grade: A+

(12) Kentucky – Known for being the perineal powerhouse of the SEC, Kentucky has seen their share of ups and downs this season. After starting the season at No. 2 in the AP Top 25, the Wildcats were demolished by Duke in the first game of the season. They managed to get back on track winning seven games in a row before falling to Seton Hall. After the loss to Seton Hall, Kentucky got a huge lift in confidence by defeating North Carolina on the road and by defeating in-state rival Louisville. However, Kentucky slipped against a better than advertised Alabama team, accumulating their third loss of the season. Moving into the thick of conference play, Kentucky seems to be playing much better as a whole.

Mid-season grade: B+

(14) Auburn – Picked to finish second in the SEC this season, the Auburn Tigers have played about as well as expected so far. With their only losses coming to ranked opposition, (Duke, NC State and Ole Miss), Auburn is hoping to have as much success this season as they did last season. With scandals surrounding the program, head coach Bruce Pearl has his team focused on the right things — winning basketball games. If the Tigers stay healthy, they can contend for an already tightly contested SEC championship.

Mid-season grade: B

(18) Ole Miss – As the surprise of the SEC, Ole Miss has found themselves ranked inside the top 25 for the first time since the 2013 season. Ole Miss has been playing well on the offensive side of the ball and has already amassed big wins against Auburn and Mississippi State. Although the Rebels have some quality wins on their schedule, they also have some bad losses to Cincinnati and Butler that have kept them out of the top 15 and possibly the top 10. If Ole Miss can continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball while maintaining offensive productivity, they will make a decent run in the SEC tournament, and perhaps the NCAA tournament.

Mid-season grade: B

(24) Mississippi State – Benefitting from one of the SEC’s weaker schedules, the Bulldogs find themselves in a good spot as they get into the thick of conference play. Unfortunately for Mississippi State, the SEC as a whole has grown increasingly strong throughout the season. If the Bulldogs intend on staying in the top 25, they will have to improve on both ends of the floor and hope that their relaxed early-season schedule doesn’t sneak up on them and have them unprepared.

Mid-season grade: C

(UR) Alabama – The Crimson Tide are one of the most enigmatic teams in all of college basketball. With a huge win over Kentucky, Alabama’s body of work looks pretty good. However, Alabama also has a loss against Northeastern University, which is one of the worst losses sustained by an SEC school so far this season. If Alabama can play on the level they played at against Kentucky for the remainder of the season, they will be dancing in March.

Mid-season grade: C+

(UR) Arkansas – The Razorbacks are off to a decent start this year. However, bolstering two bad losses to Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky, the Razorbacks are having to dig themselves out of a hole early. If Arkansas can get more of their team involved in their offense and in rebounding, they could pose problems for many schools throughout the NCAA.

Mid-season grade: C-

(UR) Florida – As one of the best three-point shooting teams in the SEC, the Gators have found themselves competitive in some big games this season. Against Michigan State and Tennessee, Florida was competitive for the entire duration of those games. If Florida can find more offensive productivity, they will be contending for the SEC.

Mid-season grade: C+

(UR) Georgia – After losing all of their offensive and defensive productivity from last season, the Bulldogs find themselves in a deep hole early in the year. Georgia has been unable to find consistent offense or defense at many junctures throughout the season. It’s looking like it’s going to be a long season in Athens.

Mid-season grade: D

(UR) LSU – As one of the most underrated teams in the SEC, LSU is playing with a chip on their shoulder. After playing some very good teams into tight contests, the Tigers are proving they have the depth and consistency to make a run for the SEC crown. With a few games coming up against ranked opposition, the Tigers could find themselves in the top 25 soon, if they continue to play well and win games.

Mid-season grade: B

(UR) Missouri – Suffering two early-season losses, the Tigers are still trying to find their rhythm. Winless in conference play, Missouri is hoping for a better finish to January than what it began. Facing a tough stretch of opponents coming up, Missouri will soon find out whether or not they have the depth and talent to contend for the SEC.

Mid-season grade: C-

(UR) Texas A&M – With two questionable losses to Washington and UC-Irvine, Texas A&M has dug themselves a hole. They have played some very good teams very well this season, and show a lot of developmental promise. If the Aggies can shake off the rust from the early season, they will be contending for the SEC crown out of the SEC West.

Mid-season grade: C

(UR) South Carolina – With a few big wins on their record this season, the Gamecocks have shown they have what it takes to compete with some of the nation’s best basketball teams. However, they have also shown that they lack consistency. If South Carolina can get some depth and consistency, they have the weapons to compete with anyone.

Mid-season grade: C

(UR) Vanderbilt – Coming in at the bottom of the SEC, the Commodores are hoping for a quick turnaround with what’s left of the season. It looks like it’s going to be a very long season in Nashville.

Mid-season grade: D