The college basketball season is here, limping along in the COVID-19 sports world of 2020. Multiple cancellations have already occurred for various programs but the season is still starting on time. The SEC is hoping for a better showing this year as the season gets under way.
2019-2020 Final Standings
The 2019-2020 season was anticipated to be a big year for the conference. A mixture of injuries and underperformances resulted in the SEC being one of the worst power conferences.
By the cancellation of the basketball season, the SEC was projected to only get four teams into the tournament. Kentucky had the best season by far but was still outside the KenPom top 25. The conference really only featured Kentucky as a legitimate title threat with a smattering of other teams in the mix to potentially get to the second weekend.
2020-2021 Projected Standings
- Ole Miss
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
The fight for the top is likely going to come down to these two teams. They’re both young but they have far more talent than the rest of the league. Both teams brought in top five recruiting classes per 247sports, and both teams did well in the transfer market to fill key needs.
Kentucky will have a whole new starting lineup from last year but don’t let that worry you. Guys like B.J. Boston and Terrence Clark will be a spectacle for people to watch and are in line for the NBA Draft next year. Transfer Olivier Sarr gives Calipari an experienced giant down low which is something we haven’t seen on his teams very often.
On the other side, Tennessee has the incoming talent complimented by two four-year veterans in John Fulkerson and Yves Pons. They lost minimal production from last year comparatively and bring back a lot of experience from last year. Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson will be the incoming talent to keep an eye on.
Kentucky is typical for being the leaders in the conference but Tennessee is back in the mix after a disappointing 2019-2020 season. With the level of experience and talent the Vols have returning, this could be the year Tennessee stands alone atop the SEC.
Upper Middle Tier
LSU, Florida, Alabama
The upper tier features three teams that should be NCAA Tournament teams. LSU still has a lot of talent from last year including First Team All-SEC Trendon Watford. Skylar Mays will be a big piece to replace but LSU brought in the best guy to take his spot in Cameron Thomas.
Florida didn’t bring in a big recruiting class but they did well with some transfers and have good talent returning from last year. This includes SEC Preseason Player of the Year Keyontae Johnson. Along with Johnson, Scottie Lewis and Noah Locke should continue to improve in a big 2020-2021 season.
Nate Oates scored big in the transfer market bringing in Jahvon Quinerly and Jordan Bruner both who should start immediately. They’re a perfect fit and will join an already strong starting rotation that includes First Team All-SEC John Petty Jr.
Arkansas, Ole Miss, South Carolina
With a good showing these teams can definitely jump into that NCAA Tournament conversation. Arkansas took a hit when Isaiah Joe declared for the draft in August. Joe was one of many departures from last year. The Razorbacks could be using as many as seven new faces on the court but possess the talent to make some noise this year.
Ole Miss is yet another team that did well with their transfers. Two should be starting right away with sharpshooting point guard Jarkel Joiner and former Pac-12 standout Romello White. They’ll join a deep Rebels squad led by senior Devontae Shuler who is hoping for a return to the NCAA Tournament.
It’s widely believed that Frank Martin could have his best team since the 2016-2017 season and if you remember that team went to the Final Four. After exceeding expectations last year, the Gamecocks have the potential to make some serious noise in 2020-2021. AJ Lawson is the standout guard but Jermaine Couisnard had a huge freshman year and could be poised to explode this season.
Lower Middle Tier
Auburn, Texas A&M, Missouri
Auburn’s season looks more and more bleak as we get closer to tip off. Just days before the start of the season Auburn announced they would do a self-imposed postseason ban for 2020-2021. A couple days later top prospect Sharife Cooper’s eligibility hung in the balance. Cooper was supposed to be a big factor for an Auburn team that lost it’s top six scorers. Without Cooper, Auburn could be dropping down to a 10th or 11th place finish in the SEC.
Last year the Aggies exceeded all expectations by going 10-8 in conference play. They bring back a lot from that team as well as 2019’s leading rebounder Kevin Marfo from the transfer market. Texas A&M is listed at 10th but there’s no reason they couldn’t work their way to the upper half of the standings again this year.
Missouri is kind of an odd team in that they didn’t lose any significant players from last year but they didn’t add anyone either. It’s essentially the same team from 2019-20. What that means is a team filled with mostly upperclassmen that could be looking at a big year if they build off of last year.
Upper Bottom Tier
Mississippi State, Georgia
Mississippi State lost two players to the NBA Draft and still had two other big pieces of their production depart. They look to be in decent shape to replace some of the production this season, but they seriously lack depth. Javian Davis’s impact might be the difference in how high this team can fly this year.
Georgia is another team that lost a slew of production from last year including the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. Tom Crean will try to put together a team using a lot of transfers, JUCO’s, a pair of incoming freshmen. It looks like a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs.
Lower Bottom Tier
Someone has to take the cellar spot and it looks like it will be Vanderbilt again. Still, the roster shows improvements and if they can stay healthy for the first time in three years there’s no reason this team can’t get out of the basement.
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