SEC Season Grades

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019

With two games remaining in the regular season, teams throughout the SEC are trying to finish the season strong ahead of the conference tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.

(5) Tennessee – With a four-week stent at number-one, Tennessee is having one of their best seasons, if not the best season, in school history. With big wins over then-ranked No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 4 Kentucky and a half dozen other tournament teams, the Volunteers have proven that they are the real deal. Even Tennessee’s losses aren’t what you would qualify as “bad” losses.

Losing twice in overtime to two teams ranked inside the top-15, one being a No. 1 team (Kansas), Tennessee’s lone beat-down came at the hands of Kentucky in February. After redeeming themselves against Kentucky on their home court, the Volunteers seem to have regained momentum ahead of the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

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With the SEC Tournament being held in their home state, Tennessee has to be excited about having a glorified home game in every match-up. With the Vols, Cats and Tigers playing exceptionally well at this point in the season, it’s anyone’s championship in the SEC. Overall season grade: A+

(6) Kentucky – After opening the season with an embarrassing 44-point loss to Duke, Kentucky stumbled against Seton Hall and an underrated Alabama team. However, this is a completely different team than what they were in early December and January. After rattling off 10-straight wins, the Wildcats fell in controversial fashion to LSU before getting back on top by thrashing then-ranked No. 1 Tennessee in Rupp Arena.

Although Tennessee got their revenge, the Cats were without Reid Travis, a vital cog in the Wildcat machine. With Travis expected to return from injury prior to the SEC Tournament, Kentucky will again be a complete team. Each player compliments the next. With all their primary contributors, the Wildcats are a tough team to contend with and have proven that they can beat anyone in the country. Overall season grade: A+

(10) LSU – With wins over the Wildcats and Volunteers, the Tigers set themselves for a great finish to the season, with an opportunity to take the number-one overall seed into the SEC tournament on March 13. Holding tie-breakers with Kentucky and Tennessee, the Tigers were the surprise team of the season.

Defeating both teams by two-points each, in controversial fashion, LSU feels as though they haven’t gotten the recognition they deserve for defeating two highly-ranked teams within relative time to one another. However, numbers don’t lie, and the Tigers have proven they won’t back down from a challenge and can play with anyone in the country. Overall season grade: A

Alabama – Led by electric guard John Petty, the Crimson Tide have found themselves on the winning-end of some big games this season. The Tide defeated Kentucky by two-points earlier in the season and took out some of the better teams in the conference. Alabama also came close to topping the then-ranked No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers, falling by three points.

Alabama’s inability to close out in big games cost them a lot this season. However, with an eccentric coach like Avery Johnson, the Tide will provide some electricity and entertainment in the conference tournament. Overall season grade: C

Arkansas – With a top-25 win against then-ranked No. 19 LSU, the Razorbacks have shown they have the ability to play with some of the best teams in the SEC. However, their lack of offensive productivity has proven problematic late in the season. Arkansas will need everything to go exactly their way in order to stand a chance at the SEC crown. Overall season grade: C-

Auburn – Picked to be one of the top-three teams in the SEC, the Auburn Tigers have had a disappointing season. Although the Tigers’ record isn’t that bad, their lone victory against a ranked opponent came in the second game of the season against then-ranked No. 25 Washington. Finishing the season with Tennessee, Auburn has a chance to gain a massive surge of momentum. Overall season grade: B-

Florida – Although the Gators have had some close calls against some good teams this season, including a victory over LSU, Florida’s inability to finish games caused detriment to their momentum throughout the middle of the season. Without a stern inside presence, Florida relied heavily on their guard play, which has dwindled due to fatigue throughout the season.

With LSU and Kentucky remaining on the schedule, Florida has the toughest games remaining in the regular season. The Gators will have to pull two massive upsets to gain necessary momentum heading into the conference tournament. Overall season grade: C

Georgia – The Bulldogs come in at the second-to-last team in the SEC and have not had the type of season to write home about. After a 46-point drubbing at the hands of the Volunteers in early January, the Bulldogs just never seemed to get on track for the rest of the season. With troubles on both ends of the floor, the Bulldogs seem to be in for a rough March. Overall season grade: D

Mississippi – As one of the better teams in the SEC, the Rebels have surprised a lot of teams in the conference. Notching two wins against top-25 opposition this season, the Rebels looked the part of SEC title contender. However, after defeating the then-ranked No. 14 Mississippi State Bulldogs on the road, the Rebels rattled off four straight losses, killing their mid-season momentum.

Sparking things back up, the Rebels won five-straight games to help bolster their conference record ahead of the conference tournament. Ole Miss is a gritty team that plays hard and could cause problems for some teams in Nashville. Overall season grade: C+

Mississippi State – Ranked for most of the season, the Bulldogs looked the part of SEC title contender through mid-season. However, after defeating many of the lower-tier teams in the conference early-on, the Bulldogs got a dose of the Wildcats in late January.

They took out their frustrations on the then-ranked No. 16 Auburn Tigers, notching their only ranked win of the season. If the Bulldogs can stay healthy and continue to play angry, they could surprise someone in the conference tournament. Overall season grade: C+

Missouri – The Tigers have played a lot of good teams close this season, but have never been able to get over the hump. With a lot of youth and inexperience, Missouri lacks offensive productivity. The Tigers hope to catch a team at the right time if they stand any chance in the conference tournament. Overall season grade: D

South Carolina – Two years removed from a surprise trip to the final four, the Gamecocks have fallen into the mid to lower tier of the SEC. However, with two wins against ranked opposition this season, Frank Martin has proven that he has the ability to coach his team to play much better than they appear capable. If the Gamecocks catch the right team at the right time, they may find themselves deeper in the tournament than expected. Overall season grade: C

Texas A&M – Picked to be one of the better teams in the SEC West, the Aggies had their fair share of opportunities this season. Losing to every ranked opponent faced, momentum in College Station seems to have halted at the worst possible time. With two gritty teams remaining on the schedule for the Aggies in South Carolina and Mississippi State, Texas A&M has to finish strong if they want to earn a decent seed in the conference tournament. Overall season grade: C-

Vanderbilt – Winless in the SEC, the Commodores have had one highlight all year long – losing to Tennessee in overtime at home. One game after being named the number-one team in the country, the Volunteers struggled mightily with the Commodores in Nashville requiring overtime to upend their in-state rival.

Vanderbilt must recapture the feeling of the Tennessee game at home and carry it into the conference tournament. With the tournament being held in Nashville, Vanderbilt will rely on their hometown fans to create an atmosphere just like the one they had against the Vols at home. With seeding likely to come into play, the Commodores may very well find themselves taking on the Vols in the opening round. Overall season grade: F