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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

SEC Power Rankings: And you’re watching the SEC Tournament

With the SEC Tournament upon us, we wanted to give one last rundown of the SEC landscape while feeding into some of that sweet Gen Z nostalgia.
Savannah Walske
Jordyn Cambridge dribbles the ball in front of a Georgia defender, as photographed on March 3, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Savannah Walske)

It’s the end of the regular season! The standings are set and it’s finally time for the madness to begin this March. We decided that, in preparation for the SEC tournament, we would give the conference one last ranking to familiarize ourselves with all the wonderful teams competing this week, comparing them to a classic form of cinema: the Disney Channel Original Movie (or DCOM for short).

One quick disclaimer: in making our list, we’re aware of some fan-favorite snubs such as “Lemonade Mouth,” “Camp Rock,” “The Cheetah Girls,” “Let it Shine,” “Descendants” and any DCOM made before 2000. These are comparisons, not rankings, and some of your favorites just didn’t fit in anywhere. As for some of the older millennial favorites, we respect your nostalgia, but Gen Z is already in or nearing our 20s. Our media is nostalgic now, too.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into the teams!

1. South Carolina (29-0, 16-0)

DCOM Comparison: High School Musical 2

South Carolina in our No. 1 spot should come with no controversy. The Gamecocks are 29-0 with an average margin of victory well into the double figures. What is a controversy, though, is our decision to put “High School Musical 2” in the No. 1 spot with them. This film is the GOAT of DCOMs, no questions asked. Yes, “Lemonade Mouth,” “Camp Rock” and other classics have become icons with the early Gen Z audience, but “HSM 2” will forever be the icon. Sure, the story is a bit lacking, but the musical numbers and small moments between the cast make up for it. Where would we be without Troy’s water slap or the Troy and Gabriella pool flirting. And the music! How could you not scream along to “I Don’t Dance,” “Work This Out” and “You Are the Music in Me.” Even Sharpay’s awful Hawi’ian song has a cult following. And if you’re sitting there upset that I missed your favorite song, that’s further proof of how good the soundtrack is. Every minor detail of “HSM 2” is memorable, the good and the bad. And for that reason, it should be placed on a mantle of its own. 

2. LSU (26-4, 13-3)

DCOM Comparison: Teen Beach Movie

Going into the SEC tournament with an 8 game winning streak, The LSU Tigers have moved up one spot to No. 8 in Monday’s latest AP Poll and have a first round bye in the tournament. They will play Thursday’s winner of Arkansas and Auburn, where they have a definite advantage and are projected to win the game. Their season seems to be as good as life on the beach in Waikiki like in “Teen Beach Movie,” as they are “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin” into this tournament. So, yes, they still have competition, like the surfer’s competition with the bikers to hangout at Big Momma’s beachside restaurant, a win of the tournament won’t be easy, but there is definitely a chance to celebrate at the end like Mack and Brady do on the beach. 

3. Ole Miss (22-7, 12-4)

DCOM Comparison: Girl vs. Monster

Ole Miss won over Missouri on Monday night in a 66-45 contest, holding its fourth Power Five opponent under 50 points, demonstrating its defensive strong suit. This secured the Rebels a top-four seed and double-bye in the SEC tournament. Because it seems like their defense is what is contributing to Ole Miss’s success, “Girl vs. Monster” seems like a fair comparison. After a monster named Deimata gets unleashed into her town, Skylar has to play defense against Deimata using monster-hunting tools. Her defensive ability is what causes Deimata to be defeated and captured, which is what allows Skylar to go to the party, her own ultimate victory. Similarly, Ole Miss’s defensive ability is what granted them their success of getting a top-four seed and a double-bye at the SEC tournament. 

4. Alabama (23-8, 10-6)

DCOM Comparison: Full Court Miracle

Since our last power rankings article, Alabama has gone 7-2 with its only two losses against LSU and South Carolina, the only two ranked teams in the conference. Because of this, Alabama has the biggest jump of our rankings, up five spots to No. 4. You wouldn’t think of Alabama as a top-4 team in the conference, especially with its slow start. No one expected Alabama to be this high, and I bet you didn’t expect to see “Full Court Miracle “ this high, either. A 2003 release highlighting the Philadelphia Hebrew Academy basketball team’s newfound success under new coach and former college basketball star, Lamont Carr, the film is funny, heartwarming and typically forgotten about in the scope of DCOMs. You’ll never hear someone call it their favorite, but no one can deny that it deserves to be considered one of the best. Alabama is the same way; they are good, but no one’s picking Alabama to win the conference, even with a double-bye.

5. Tennessee (17-11, 10-6)

DCOM Comparison: Cloud 9

Coming out of a 76-68 loss against South Carolina, Tennessee lost its winning streak going into the SEC tournament, as well as the opportunity of getting a double bye. However, they recovered from a double-digit deficit to make it a one-possession game late against an undefeated team during the season. Jackson led the team with 29 points and eight rebounds as Tennessee began learning how to use Jackson strategically, causing her to score 56 points over the last two games. If they continue to play Jackson through the SEC tournament, they will find success. In “Cloud 9,” Kayla Morgan is a key player who competes in a snowboarding competition for her team, the Hot Doggers. Like the way Kayla scores a perfect score at the final competition and wins the competition for her team, Jackson may be able to do the same for the Lady Volunteers.

6. Vanderbilt (22-8, 9-7)

DCOM Comparison: Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie

Vanderbilt has officially broken 20 wins for the first time ever, making this the best season it has ever had. However, despite the successful season it has had, Vanderbilt went from January 21 to February 8 without winning a single game, giving them a 5 game losing streak in the middle of their season. Vanderbilt is, however, going into the tournament with a 3 game win streak, locking them in the 6th seed and giving them a first round bye. Therefore, Vanderbilt can be compared to “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie.” The movie begins with a really good start, like Vanderbilt’s season, as the Russo family embarks on a family vacation together to the Caribbean. However, Alex gets grounded in the middle of the family vacation, causing her to lose her magic powers. However, the movie ends with Alex wishing everything is back to normal, and the family ends their vacation all together and happy. I think Vanderbilt will continue this winning streak leading to the happy ending like in Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie.

7. Auburn (19-10, 8-8)

DCOM Comparison: Sky High

Auburn falls barely into the top half of the SEC rankings, one spot away from a bye in the first round. Instead, the Tigers are facing Arkansas, who won by two points the last time these teams met. Like “Sky High,” no one is considering the Tigers among the best of the bunch, but you can’t hate the team. With stars in Honesty Scott-Grayson and Jamya Mingo-Young, you’re in for a good game no matter the score. When you turn on Auburn basketball or “Sky High,” you know you’re not in for the best television, but you’ll enjoy it nonetheless. Plus, how can you hate Mary Elizabeth Winstead? She was Ramona Flowers after all.

8. Mississippi State (21-10, 8-8)

DCOM Comparison: StarStruck

After a wonderful nonconference run, Mississippi State fell apart in the SEC. A team that was ranked third in our last power ranking drops five spots to No. 8, likely due to the 1-5 ending to its season with the only win being their game against Missouri. Their season went from promising to totally forgettable, kinda like “Starstruck.” With all the press following the casting of up-and-coming Disney star Sterling Knight from “Sonny with a Chance,” “StarStruck” was supposed to be Disney Channel’s new big movie. Upon release, “Starstruck” was met with wonderful reviews, but its fame drifted with time. Ultimately, it was just an average movie with a lot of hype, kind of like how this season has gone for the Bulldogs. They will face No. 9 Texas A&M, a team they beat by eleven on Feb. 4. 

9. Arkansas (18-13, 6-10)

DCOM Comparison: Zapped

Arkansas heads into the SEC tournament on a four-game losing streak and has won one of its last seven games. That one win, like Mississippi State, was against Missouri (so sorry, Missouri). Even with Taliah Scott averaging 22.1 points per game, Arkansas is struggling offensively with the worst field-goal percentage in the conference. The Razorbacks are a tough watch, like “Zapped.” You would think that a movie with Zendaya in the height of her Disney fame would be enough to save a movie, but it’s not. “Zapped” is a sloppy film with the only redeemable quality being its leading lady. Sounds familiar, right? With a matchup coming against Auburn, a team the Razorbacks previously beat, their season isn’t quite over yet. Let’s just hope that Taliah Scott follows in the Zendaya footsteps and has a long, illustrious career when she leaves the college bubble in three years.

10. Texas A&M (18-11, 6-10)

DCOM Comparison: Freaky Friday

Texas A&M is coming out of a 78-71 loss to Alabama on its senior night, contributing to its three-game losing streak going into the SEC tournament where the team will face Mississippi State on Thursday. The Aggies had a pretty good end to 2023, with a 10 game winning streak between November 20 and December 31. However, since the new year started, they have been losing much more than they have been winning, placing them at the bottom of the conference. Like in Freaky Friday, both Ellie and Katherine have good things coming (Ellie has a school-wide scavenger hunt and Katherina is about to get married). However, they fight over an hour glass resulting in them switching bodies, and their lives undergo a series of unfortunate events causing their lives to be much like Texas A&M’s losing streak. 

11. Florida (15-14, 5-11)

DCOM Comparison: High School Musical 3

Florida is heading to play Missouri on March 6 as the No. 11 seed after falling short to Auburn with a 77-75 loss on Senior night. The Gators have had a pretty unsteady season, but they have begun to see a decrease in scoring lately, racking up 74.1 points per game in their last 10 contests. This is 1.9 points fewer than the 76 they’ve scored this year. However, they have extremely strong players, like Aliyah Matharu and Leilani Correa who both scored double-figures in the last game against Auburn. For these reasons, Florida can be compared to “High School Musical 3”. “High School Musical 3” is the worst of the three High School musical movies, but is still one of the best Disney Channel Originals for its cast and lovable characters. So, although the Gators may be on a decline at the moment, they are still a strong team with strong players that could be able to find success in the SEC tournament. 

12. Georgia (12-18, 3-13)

DCOM Comparison: Radio Rebel

In our last power rankings, we were really mean to Georgia. Mostly Baby Peach, but also Georgia as well. The sports team would like to take this moment to apologize to Georgia, we were not familiar with your game. With that out of the way, Georgia is ranked No. 12 in our list. Since the last article, Georgia has racked up two respectable wins against Kentucky and Florida, which isn’t bad considering their season. Georgia is very similar to “Radio Rebel,” they’re both bad but at least they’re a good type of bad. Where would our society be without the iconic hair tuck and smirk? Georgia is set to face Kentucky, a team they previously defeated, so the season’s not over yet. Go get that Cinderella run, Georgia!

13. Kentucky (12-19, 4-12)

DCOM Comparison: Kim Possible

Despite having a better record than Georgia, we decided to drop the Wildcats to No. 13 on our list. Ultimately, we thought that Georgia’s better overall record and the two teams’ head-to-head matchup was enough to give the Bulldogs the No. 12 spot. Plus, Kentucky lost by 62 to South Carolina. Kentucky has the worst overall record in the SEC, and without Ajae Petty — who’s averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds per game — the team has no discernable positives. It took a great name in Kentucky Basketball and tarnished it this season. Speaking of tarnishing a good thing? Did you know that in 2019, Disney Channel made a live-action “Kim Possible?” Probably not, because it was awful. This was a forgettable season for the Wildcats, but no season’s ever over. A win against Georgia, another against Tennessee, another against Alabama and then another against South Carolina could possibly give the Wildcats something to take away from the season.

14. Missouri (11-19, 2-14)

DCOM Comparison: Bad Hair Day

Missouri is entering the tournament with an 11 game losing streak, placing the Tigers in last place in the conference. They are locked into a game on the first day of the SEC Tournament against Florida, as they did not receive a first round bye. In this contest, they will be looking to win their first game since January 18. Missouri is like “Bad Hair Day”, as everything that could go wrong is going wrong. Monica Reeves, determined to have a perfect prom and secure her future, faces a series of mishaps throughout the entire day, like Missouri’s losing streak. However, the movie ends with Monica winning prom queen, despite her terrible day. So maybe this tournament will create a positive outcome for the Missouri Tigers —  a chance for them to win a game, despite their losing streak. 

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About the Contributors
Connor Campbell
Connor Campbell, Senior Staff Writer
Connor Campbell ('25) is a human and organizational development and cinema and media arts major from Staten Island, N.Y. Connor shares a strong love for both sports and film, leading to his interest in "The Ringer" and, consequently, his casual and quippy style of writing. Outside of The Hustler, Connor does freelance photography, runs the social media accounts for Vanderbilt Club Hockey and is the president of Vanderbilt Tap That. You can reach him at [email protected].
Savannah Walske
Savannah Walske, Staff Photographer
Savannah Walske (‘26) is from San Francisco and is double majoring in psychology and Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. When not shooting for The Hustler, you can find her playing guitar, photographing pretty Californian landscapes and obsessing over her dog. You can contact her at [email protected].
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