SEC POWER RANKINGS (02/08/21)

Power rankings based off KenPom, Sagarin, NET, and the good ol’ fashioned eye test. I also share some insights into the lates bracketology outlooks for relevant teams.


1. Alabama Crimson Tide 15-5 (10-1)

KenPom: 7, Sagarin: 11, NET: 8

The Tide nearly pulled off an insane comeback but fell just short this past Saturday in Columbia. A lack of energy and pace in the first 35 minutes of the game ended up costing Alabama their perfect record in conference. A controversial no-call as time winded down sealed the home victory for Missouri. That being said, they still look the part to make a deep run this year.

2. Tennessee Volunteers 13-4 (6-4)

KenPom: 12, Sagarin: 10, NET: 10

Tennessee completed a comeback victory over Kentucky in a fast paced game on Saturday night. The Volunteers struggled early but were led to a come from behind win by the play of their two 5 star freshman. They still perform well metrically with the top ranked defensive efficiency in the country. Look for Rick Barnes squad to be a 3 or 4 seed in the Big Dance.

3. Missouri Tigers 13-3 (6-3)

KenPom: 29, Sagarin: 32, NET: 24

The Tigers added a signature win over Alabama this weekend. At times they appeared dominant but also had perhaps the worst five minutes of league play this season. I cannot decide if that is cause for concern or impressive that they still won after giving up a 21-2 run near the end of the matchup. Probably a little of both. Regardless, the Tigers continue to exceed my expectations. Missouri currently holds the largest gap between AP ranking and KenPom ranking in the country.

4. Florida Gators 10-5 (6-4)

KenPom: 28, Sagarin: 29, NET: 31

The Gators have shown flashes of being a real threat at times but exposed their weaknesses as well. After a signature road victory against West Virginia they dropped a brutal home game to a struggling South Carolina team. I see Florida as a team with high upside but is liable to lose to just about anyone. They will need to execute down the stretch as they aren’t quite a lock for March Madness just yet.

5. Arkansas Razorbacks 14-5 (6-4)

KenPom: 26, Sagarin: 23, NET: 29

The Razorbacks boast an impressive record but lack any signature wins. A road game against Kentucky could provide the Hogs with another Quad 1 win depending how the Wildcats finish the season. The Hogs have a tough stretch of games ahead of them but can make the tournament if they simply win the games they are expected to. The Hogs are still missing a scorer that can create space for themselves but Moses Moody and Devo Davis continue to improve.

6. LSU Tigers 11-6 (6-4)

KenPom: 43, Sagarin: 40, NET: 42

Will Wade. Doing the least with the most and cheating all along the way. The American Gangster’s team is struggling at the moment and need to turn things around fast if they want to play in March. The good news for the Tigers is they have more than enough talent to do so. If they can put together 4 wins in their last 6 (against 4 weak opponents) they will be living life on the bubble.

7. Kentucky Wildcats 5-12 (4-6)

KenPom: 56, Sagarin: 55, NET: 80

What a strange year. The uber-talented Wildcats look like they are right on the cusp of finally turning the corner. With their lone hope for a tournament appearance coming in the SEC tournament the upcoming weeks will be about building confidence in this young team. Do not be surprised to see Kentucky in the SEC championship game at the end of the Conference tournament.

8. Ole Miss 10-8 (5-6)

KenPom: 66, Sagarin: 62, NET: 65

Ole Miss finds themselves on the outside looking in as March approaches. Barring a 6-2 finish in conference play (including their current two game win streak) the Rebels will not receive too much attention in regard to the Big Dance. They continue to struggle on the offensive end of the floor but have some easier matchups to finish league play.

9. Auburn Tigers 10-10 (4-7)

KenPom: 59, Sagarin: 57, NET: 66

Auburn is another young team with plenty of talent that is struggling this season. The Tigers high powered offense wasn’t enough this weekend as they dropped another league game to Ole Miss. This team could be a threat in the SEC tournament but likely doesn’t have quite enough ability to make serious noise down the stretch.

10. Mississippi State Bulldogs 11-9 (5-6)

KenPom: 65, Sagarin: 68, NET: 73

The Bulldogs have struggled in conference play and lack many dangerous weapons. They hold the 39th ranked defense but when paired with their 82nd ranked offense there is much left to be desired.

11. Georgia Bulldogs 12-6 (5-6)

KenPom: 90, Sagarin: 83, NET: 100

The Bulldogs don’t have a horrible record but they perform horrible in most major metrics. There isn’t much to be excited about with this squad and the next few weeks could be hard to watch with a tough stretch on the schedule.

12. South Carolina Gamecocks 5-7 (3-5)

KenPom: 84, Sagarin: 11, NET: 110

Road win at Florida. Home loss to Mississippi State. That should tell you what you need to know about Frank Martin’s Gamecocks this season. At the end of the day they do not pose a formidable threat to most opponents with a lackluster offense and defense.

13. Texas A&M Aggies 8-7 (2-6)

KenPom: 124, Sagarin: 112, NET: 135

Buzz Williams team has struggled this season with the worst offensive efficiency in the conference. The Aggies are lucky to be bailed out by a bad Vanderbilt team to avoid holding the worst record in the conference.

14. Vanderbilt Commodores 5-9 (1-7)

KenPom: 130, Sagarin: 131, NET: 146

This is where they belong. This is around where they will be for a for a few years unless they make some drastic changes. The days of Vanderbilt being a basketball school have come to an end, but hey, at least they can look forward to baseball.

Arkansas Film Room: Mississippi State at Arkansas

A quick breakdowns of Hog victories with highlights from WarMachine2013!

Arkansas: 61, Mississippi State: 45

  • 0:45 – Hogs have 3 points in the first eleven minutes of this matchup. This is where we are missing an elite scorer like Mason Jones. Moses continues to be the guy to get us out of slumps but this effort would not hold up against a better team. We have also seen flashes of this from J.D. Notae but not nearly consistent enough.
  • 0:56 – Devo’s length continues to allow him to finish at the rim in transition. Would be nice to see a little more aggression from him when we are struggling on offense.
  • 1:33 – A turning point in this game. That is a play that reminds you of some of the grit from a Mike Anderson team and something this team needs to continue to look for. Desi Sills has been the answer at times but has also lacked in consistency.
  • 2:30 – We see Devo hesitant on the open 3 ball (which he shoots at a 40% clip) but makes up for it with a great drive and dump to Vanover. Would like to see more confidence from Devo as he has looked like a really efficient player of late.
  • 3:18 – Vanover doing what 7’3 guys can do. If he could add some post moves and some weight he could be very dangerous in coming years. That is a massive IF.
  • 4:03 – Arkansas struggles defending the perimeter. Yet they continue this half court trap. Makes little sense to me but they also forced 26 turnovers on the night.
  • 4:17 – Devo with the filthy no look, if you missed it live you should rewatch it now.
  • 5:00 – Vanover with the over the top pass. This is where he could really be deadly if we continue to look for it. That pass has led to some turnovers this year but can really help break down zones if he can execute a higher rate.

Overall Take: Musselman has to figure out how to get out of the gate faster. It’s nearly every game that the hogs come out slow and sloppy. Vanover might actually want to start playing more down low on offense and we will see if Musselman encourages that in the future. Moses and Devo continue to be difference makers and will likely see more action both in minutes and offensive in usage down the stretch of the season. Ugly win but a win in SEC play.

KenPom Breakdown: The hogs moved from 30th the 27th after Tuesday nights home victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Box Score

Strange Year in the SEC: Parity or Inconsistency?

02/03/21

Another night in the SEC with strange scores, weird runs, and unexplainable upsets. To start the night we saw Florida, an 8 point favorite at home, lose to a typically uninspiring Gamecocks team. This is the same Florida who just put together a huge win on the road against West Virginia. I would pin this on a “hangover” game after a big win but this has become the norm in the SEC this year. Ole Miss lost to Georgia but beat Tennessee. Missouri beat 6th ranked Illinois but lost to Mississippi State by 15. Tennessee beat Kansas by 19 just to fall to Ole Miss three days later. And so on and so on.

That being said Alabama continued to be the sole consistent team in the conference. They did more than just handle business as they dominated the LSU Tigers 78-60. The Tide did this behind 19 points from Jaden Shackelford and a good defensive performance. Missouri finished the night with a 75-70 win over the struggling Wildcats. Neither team looked wildly impressive but Missouri continues to move up the SEC rankings notching their 12th win to move to 5-3 in conference play.

The cannibalization we are seeing in the SEC has somewhat been mirrored in the Big 12. There isn’t enough data to go ahead and just say it’s because of COVID, and I am not sure what that would even entail. SEC teams can only hope that members of the selection committee see this as parity and competition but statistically SEC teams are struggling to keep up. The overall impact of this strange season won’t be fully realized until Selection Sunday. Bubble teams like Arkansas, LSU, and potentially Florida will have to shape up or face the possibility of being left out come March.


SEC Game Predictions (02/03/21)

After the postponement of the Texas A&M vs Vanderbilt game, the SEC now has 3 matchups on the Wednesday slate.

South Carolina @ Florida

This should be a good matchup for the Gators high powered offense as they face the 82nd ranked defense in country. Expect a high scoring game in which Florida is just too much to handle for the Gamecocks. The home favorites take this one by double digits after pulling away down the stretch.

My Prediction: Florida 81 South Carolina 70

Betting Play: Florida -8.5

Kentucky @ Missouri

Here comes my bias again. I just can’t bring myself to pick Missouri in this one. I think we could see the Wildcats close out a close one in Columbus if their offense can find scoring. This to me is a toss up but my gut tells me to go with Kentucky on the road. It should be a great matchup down low between Olivier Sarr and Missouri big man Jeremiah Tilmon in one of the best games of the night.

My Prediction: Kentucky 67 Missouri 64

Betting Play: Kentucky +4.5

LSU @ Alabama

I am very excited for this matchup and I expect a good game from start to finish. Two of the better offenses in the country will face off tonight in Tuscaloosa. The difference is the Crimson Tide have the 8th ranked defense compared to a struggling defense on the Tigers end (146th). Look for Alabama to push the tempo in a closer game than some might think. Don’t be surprised if this comes down to the wire. If it does we have seen LSU struggle to finish games, most recently in Lubbock where they blew a 7 point lead with 1:30 remaining this past weekend.

My Prediction: Alabama 80 LSU 76

Betting Play: LSU +8.5

Game Review: Arkansas vs Mississippi State

02/02/21

Preview:

Arkansas (-7.5)Mississippi State
KenPom Ranking3068
AdjO Ranking3563
AdjD Ranking3675
KP Projected Score:7569

“No such thing as a bad win” – Chad Morris. Based off Eric Musselman’s reactions throughout this ugly game I would imagine he disagrees with former Arkansas football coach Chad Morris. Perhaps that is why he is the former head coach.

The Bulldogs jumped on the Hogs early on to take 16-3 lead with 8:45 remaining in the first half. Yes you read that right, the Hogs boasting the 30th ranked offensive efficiency in the country scored 3 points in the first 11 minutes of the game. Luckily for the Razorbacks, Mississippi State did not prove to be a worthy adversary down the stretch of the first half. With Arkansas going into the locker room with a 28-22 lead.

In what has to be one of the strangest games of the year it was Connor Vanover who ended up leading the hogs statistically. A good performance on both ends left him with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals in 29 minutes of play. Other hogs provided big plays to get the struggling hogs going early on. Devo Davis provided 8 rebounds from the guard position while Moses Moody put together another solid night contributing at key moments.

In what can only be described as one the strangest games of the year, Arkansas fans can only hope bracketologists solely look at the box score as the Razorbacks ended up winning 61-45. Regardless of the eye test, the Hogs take care of business in Fayetteville and improve to 14-5 as the Bulldogs drop another to fall to 10-9. This victory broke a Mississippi State 6 game win streak against the Razorbacks.

Stat Leaders:

  • Connor Vanover: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals in 29 minutes
  • Justin Smith: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 5/8 on field goals in 36 minutes

Notable Events :

  • Hogs were held to 3 points with 8:45 remaining in the first half falling behind 16-3
  • Desi Sills left the game with an apparent collarbone injury in the first half
    • Sills did shoot in warmups during halftime and Musselman said he “should be good moving forward” in his post game interview with SEC Network
  • Hogs finished the half on a 23-4 run to take a 28-22 lead into the locker room
  • Hogs never let the Bulldogs within 5 in the 2nd half
  • Bulldogs sacrificed a season high 26 turnovers

SEC LEAGUE NEWS:

  • Ole Miss upsets 11th ranked Tennessee 52-50, Volunteers league struggles persist
  • Georgia upsets Auburn on the road 91-86, Auburn came in as 9 point favorites

Bracketology: SEC Outlook

02/02/21

The Southeastern Conference has long been known as a football conference. With an influx of respected new coaches the conference is now looking to make a name for itself as a serious contender in NCAA basketball. Beyond Kentucky the SEC is not exactly full of elite basketball schools and often is forgotten by the time March Madness roles around.

This year could be different for a lot of reasons. While the Blue Bloods of college basketball struggle we have seen what may very well be the strongest conference the SEC has put forth in recent history. The conference is ranked 3rd in the NCAA for first time since 2007 according to KenPom’s conference standings and they look poised to send six different schools to the big dance in 2021.

The Prospects

*Seeding is provided from bracketmatrix.com where they have compiled rankings from over 30 leading bracketoligists based on past accuracy*

Alabama Crimson Tide: 14-4 (9-0)

Best Seed: 1

Worst Seed: 4

Consensus: 2

The Crimson Tide must have decided football dominance wasn’t enough. In Nate Oat’s second season they have surged in SEC play boasting an undefeated record. This has bracketmatrix listing them as a solid 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Three pointers make up over 40% of their points which is the 11th highest clip in the country. Behind a dangerous 3 point attack and the 8th ranked defense the Tide have all but locked up a spot in the Big Dance.

My Projection: 3 Teams are slowly figuring out their offense and living and dying by the 3 ball makes you vulnerable at all times. I imagine we see them drop a couple unexpected games down the stretch (that is relatively easy) to finish 21-6 and enter March Madness as a strong 3 seed and the SEC’s highest ranked team. Don’t be surprised if this team ends up in the Final 4 or if they get bounced by a mid major in the round of 64.

Tennessee Volunteers: 12-3 (5-3)

Best Seed: 2

Worst Seed: 5

Consensus: 3

After an incredibly hot start, Rick Barne’s Volunteers have sputtered in SEC play. It is difficult to pin point what is holding them back right now but they have the benefit of a potential hall of fame coach in Rick Barnes. This squad has found success by shutting down opponents earning them the 2nd highest defensive adjusted efficiency in the country.

My Projection: 4 After a 12-0 start we have seen this team struggle in recent games (other than a blowout win against Kansas). I like the experience and size and they have a top 3 (and he is not 3) coach in the conference. I have this squad finishing at 18-6 and being a high end 4 seed come march. This team will be poised for a sweet 16 run with a high floor (round of 32) but probably a ceiling around the Elite 8.

Missouri Tigers: 11-3 (4-3)

Best Seed: 2

Worst Seed: 7

Consensus: 4

Quick disclaimer: I hate the University of Missouri. I am trying my best to see good in this team but I am not exactly crazy about Cuonzo Martin’s best team in his tenure at Missouri. They have a balanced attack with an offense that ranks slightly higher in efficiency than their defense, and a team that spreads the scoring around. After a good start to the season and a huge win over a solid Illinois squad the Tigers are looking ready to play in the NCAA tournament in 2021.

My Projection: 9 Again, I hate the school so take this with a grain of salt I suppose. This team can be boring to watch but has a nice blend of experience and talent. With good depth and a balanced attack they can break opponents down and stick with some of the best in the country. Between a lackluster start to conference play and an a difficult back slate on their conference schedule I have the Tigers finishing at 15-8 and a high 9 seed in the tournament. Low upside but could potentially sneak their way into the Sweet 16.

Florida Gators: 10-4 (6-3)

Best Seed: 4

Worst Seed: 8

Consensus: 6

Mike White might be putting together his best coaching performance yet as the Gators are heating up coming into the back half of the SEC schedule. They’ve relied on offensive play with a respectable defense to win 7 of their last 10 games including a huge win over West Virginia this past weekend. With a solid offensive attack they can score the ball well and look to continue their recent success into the back half of SEC play.

My Projection: 4 The Gators have a relatively easy back half of the schedule and look poised to get better as the season moves on. I expect them to work their way to a 17-6 record and with a big wins over the likes of @West Virginia, Tennessee, and LSU already I expect them to climb to the 6 seed in March Madness. A team that can hang with the majority of the field but lacks true giant killer capabilities beyond the Sweet 16.

LSU Tigers 11-5 (6-3)

Best Seed: 7

Worst Seed: OUT

Consensus: 10

Will Wade (aka the American Gangster), has his Tiger’s in good form halfway through conference play. This team relies almost solely on offensive efficiency where they rank 6th in the country compared to their underwhelming defense (143rd). They are yet to put together a marquee win this season but will have ample opportunity over the next few weeks after dropping a heart breaker against a solid Texas Tech team.

My Projection: 8 Despite missing that one “big win” the Tigers are formidable opponent for anyone they cross. In college basketball having a high powered offense with a struggling defense is not ideal but it could position you to compete with some of the best teams in the country. I expect LSU to pick up a win against at least one (probably 2) of the following upcoming matchups: @Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, @Arkansas. Winning two of these games would have LSU primed for 16-8 finish and a big upgrade in their resume.

Arkansas Razorbacks: 13-5 (5-4)

Best Seed: 6

Worst Seed: OUT

Consensus: 11

My Razorbacks are one of the more interesting bubble teams in the country and a lot of people cannot get a read on them. Similar to LSU, they are missing any win that would excite the selection committee but are still considered a tournament team at the moment. They struggled through two blowout losses consecutively at the hands of Alabama and LSU (both on the road) but have since bounced back. A heartbreaker in Stillwater robbed the Hogs of their second Quad 1 victory this past weekend.

My Projection: 10

I think the experts have it right on this one and the hogs have been about as predictable as a team could be in the win/loss column this season. Apart from a potential road victory @Missouri I have a have to imagine that the hogs win the games they should win and lose the games they should lose moving forward. Of course the Hogs are returning nearly nothing this season in terms of scoring (apart from Desi Sills) so in theory they should improve as time goes on under the obsessive Eric Musselman. This would have the hogs right around 18-9 to finish the year with the worst strength of schedule in the SEC. I don’t see this team being any sort of Cinderella come March but could work their way past the first round.

Finally, and I hate to say this, but I would be shocked if Kentucky didn’t at least make the semifinals in the conference tournament (assuming there is one but that is another conversation). The Wildcats are loaded with talent and if they somehow get it together down the stretch they have the talent to win the conference tournament and earn an automatic bid. Not likely. But I am not counting them out just yet.