1. LSU Tigers
The LSU Tigers were expected to regress from their regular season championship performance last year; however, they currently stand tall in the SEC with an undefeated 7-0 record in conference play. The Tigers are on an 9-game win streak, including narrow wins against Florida and Texas when it appeared their perfect start might bein jeopardy. Although they have played well, they have squandered big leads in recent games, a fact that must concern head coach Will Wade. They are going to need to close out games if they want to stay atop of this balanced conference and make a run in the tournament.
2. Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats remain ranked among the top 15 teams in the country with a solid 6-1 start to conference play and do not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. A strong overtime win against No. 18 Texas Tech with an amazing performance from forward Nick Richards (25 points, 14 rebounds) should give the Wildcats a confidence boost for the rest of the season. Richards has been amazing thus far and appears to be improving with each game. The Wildcats took care of a small scare from the Vanderbilt Commodores and are now preparing for a huge matchup against Auburn on Feb. 1.
3. Auburn Tigers
Auburn is currently ranked 17th in the nation thanks to their 18-2 record. However, both of these losses came to SEC opponents, Florida and Alabama. Their 5-2 conference record has caused them to slip to third in the conference. Nonetheless, they have bounced back from their consecutive losses with strong games against South Carolina and Iowa State. Isaac Okoro has been the key to a dangerous Auburn offense, and he continues to improve. The Tigers are currently undefeated at home, a streak that will be put to the test when Kentucky visits on Feb. 1.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama has a 4-3 conference record and boasts a fast-paced offense that no foe should feel comfortable playing against. Their offense has allowed them to win games by large margins, and their 19-point blowout victory over Auburn speaks volumes about their capabilities. Look out for the Crimson Tide to pull off some upsets later in the season, but after a bad loss to LSU, they will need to get back on track.
5. Florida Gators
Florida had a tough stretch of games this past week that included a trip to LSU and a visit from the country’s No. 1 team, the Baylor Bears. The Gators ended up losing both games, but showed good fight, nearly pulling off the upset in Baton Rouge. They looked to build off these games against Mississippi State, but blew a 16-point first half lead and ultimately lost to the red hot Bulldogs. Florida is now 4-3 in conference play and will have a strong chance to move to 5-3 with a game against Vanderbilt on Feb. 1.
6. Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have moved up our rankings due to their impressive four-game conference win streak. After an 0-3 start to SEC play, they have bounced back with the streak and now sit at 4-3. After getting blown out by Auburn and Alabama, the Bulldogs went on to lose to LSU by only one point and then beat Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas and Florida. Ranking them over the Volunteers and Arkansas might be a stretch, but they certainly have played great basketball, especially in recent weeks. They host Tennessee this week, which should test their SEC winning streak.
7. Tennessee Volunteers
After a great game against No. 3 Kansas, the Volunteers struggled against conference opponent Texas A&M in a 58-63 loss. This loss dropped them to 4-3 in conference play, and Tennessee continues to be plagued by their loss of talent to the NBA. Tennessee has relied heavily on forward John Fulkerson, who is shooting 66.4 percent from the field, and they will continue to follow his lead in the coming games.
8. Texas A&M
The Aggies have beaten Tennessee and Missouri on the road, pushing them over 0.500 in conference play. Their loss to Oklahoma State, who was coming off of a six game losing streak, was unanticipated. They will look to improve their record with games against Georgia and Missouri coming up.
9. South Carolina Gamecocks
After a loss to Auburn, the Gamecocks were able to blowout Vanderbilt 90-64 and win a nice road contest over Arkansas to improve to 4-3 in the conference. They have won four of their last five SEC games after an 0-2 start and will look have chances for wins with games against Missouri and Ole Miss next on the schedule.
10. Arkansas Razorbacks
After consecutive losses to Kentucky and Mississippi State and a narrow defeat at the hands of South Carolina, the Razorbacks have fallen to 3-4 in conference play. They now find themselves in the bottom half of the conference. However, the Razorbacks did come up with a big win over TCU in the Big 12/SEC challenge without star guard, Isaiah Joe, who is ranked ninth in the nation in three-point field goals. They will look to bounce back once he returns with tough games against Alabama and Auburn on the horizon.
11. Missouri Tigers
The Tigers earned a convincing win over the Florida Gators early in SEC play and seemed poised to continue their hot play against weaker opponents in the near future. But they then lost four games in a row, highlighted by a drubbing from Mississippi State. The Tigers bounced back on Jan. 28 with a win over Georgia, and they will have solid chances for wins over South Carolina and Texas A&M in their next two games.
12. Georgia Bulldogs
Despite their star power, the Bulldogs have failed to find much consistency in head coach Tom Crean’s second year at the helm. After a solid win over Tennessee at home, Georgia has dropped four straight. But this team is extremely young and features four top 100 recruits from the 2019 class, so do not be surprised if they continue to improve. The Bulldogs will look to get back on track on Saturday when they host Texas A&M.
13. Ole Miss Rebels
The Rebels turned in a solid 9-4 non-conference slate but have not found that same success in SEC play. They are, however, beginning to trend in the right direction with a win over Georgia in Athens and a very narrow one-point, double overtime defeat at the hands of Auburn. Ole Miss continues to rely on a plethora of scoring options, and the emergence of sophomore guard Blake Hinson should give Rebels fans confidence. They will travel to LSU on Feb. 1.
14. Vanderbilt Commodores
Not much more can be said about the Commodores this season. After losing star guard Aaron Nesmith for the season, this team is all but finished. In a set of three historically bad loses that featured the end of the illustrious 1,080 game three point streak and an average margin of defeat of over 20, Coach Jerry Stackhouse has failed to find answers. The Commodores fought hard in Lexington, but still fell to the Kentucky Wildcats by nine. It will not get easier for Vanderbilt, as Florida and LSU will be traveling to Nashville in the coming weeks.