There’s one overarching theme when evaluating the SEC this season: parity.
The top seven teams in the conference standings have fluctuated from week to week, while no team has truly emerged as the class of the conference.
With Selection Sunday just a month away, there’s a familiar power on top of the wackiest edition of the power rankings.
1. Kentucky (19-6, 9-3 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 4
Last week’s results: Beat UGA 82-48, beat South Carolina 89-62
The South Carolina victory was really impressive. Keep in mind, Kentucky was without John Calipari three minutes into that game after he was ejected during an argument with an official. Most teams would fold on the road against a physical team like South Carolina. But have no fear, Tyler Ulis was there. The sophomore guard put up one of his best outings of the season and scored 27 points with 12 assists. Aside from a puzzling collapse at Tennessee and a tough loss to Kansas on the road, Kentucky has been excellent the past few weeks.
2. LSU (16-9, 9-3 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to South Carolina 94-83, beat Texas A&M 76-71
LSU’s week really epitomizes the parity across the conference. The Tigers lost to the same Gamecocks team that was obliterated by Kentucky (a team LSU beat at home earlier in the season). Then, LSU responded with an impressive home victory over an Aggies team that suddenly forgot how to win games. LSU’s odd trend also continued last week: The Tigers haven’t been able to string together more than two consecutive wins in conference play. Some of that is scheduling, but some of it is also a bizarre lack of consistency.
3. South Carolina (21-4, 8-4 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Last week’s results: Beat LSU 94-83, lost to Kentucky 89-62
South Carolina simply stays put after a puzzling week for the usually consistent Gamecocks. The loss to Kentucky was undoubtedly the worst South Carolina has endured all season. Frank Martin’s team should be able to exert some frustration on hapless Missouri on Tuesday.
4. Texas A&M (18-7, 7-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Last week’s results: Lost to Alabama 63-62, lost to LSU 76-71
The Aggies have dropped four straight overall and five straight SEC contests. The good news is each of Texas A&M’s last three losses have come by single digits. The bad news is the Aggies have had a tough time closing out games. All could be forgotten if Texas A&M can protect home court against Ole Miss and Kentucky this week.
5. Alabama (15-9, 6-6 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 10
Last week’s results: Beat Texas A&M 63-62, beat Florida 61-55
Power rankings are meant to reflect who is playing the best right now. At the moment, Alabama is playing some of the best basketball in the conference. The Crimson Tide not only knocked off a talented Aggies team at home this week, they also avoided a major letdown by upsetting Florida on the road. The Gators had won seven straight games and were 12-1 overall at home before Avery Johnson’s squad took them down. Amazingly, the team that was projected to finish near the cellar in the preseason has played itself into NCAA Tournament consideration.
6. Vanderbilt (15-10, 7-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 7
Last week’s results: Beat Missouri 86-71, beat Auburn 86-57
Vanderbilt took care of business last week with convincing victories over the two worst teams in the SEC. A 29-point victory over lowly Auburn may not seem very impressive, but beating any team on the road by nearly 30 points shouldn’t be scoffed at. The Commodores are still squarely on the bubble and have very little room for error during its final six games. Vandy likely cannot afford a loss to neither Mississippi State on the road or UGA at home this week.
7. Florida (16-9, 7-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 5
Last week’s results: Beat Ole Miss 77-72, lost to Alabama 61-55
The Gators are a tricky group to figure out. At times they look dominant (see the victory over West Virginia). At others they look like an average team (see last weekend’s clunker against Alabama). The final six games will be a daunting stretch for Florida. Four of the next six games are on the road and the two home games are against desperate Vanderbilt and mighty Kentucky. In fact, Florida will play two games on the road this week against UGA and South Carolina.
8. Ole Miss (16-9, 6-6 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 8
Last week’s results: Lost to Florida 77-72, beat Arkansas 76-60
The Rebels came up short on the road against the Gators, but bounced back with a solid victory against Arkansas. Ole Miss isn’t on the bubble right now and will need to win at least five of its final six games to get in the mix.
9. Georgia (14-9, 7-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 6
Last week’s results: Lost to Kentucky 82-58, beat Mississippi State 66-57
Nobody has gone into Rupp Arena and knocked off Kentucky recently, but a 24-point loss certainly doesn’t look good. The Bulldogs would likely need to finish the regular season with five or six wins and then make some noise in the SEC tournament just to get into the NCAA tournament picture.
10. Arkansas (12-13, 5-7 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 9
Last week’s results: Lost to Mississippi State 78-46, lost to Ole Miss 76-60
The past week was pretty awful for an Arkansas team that had remained competitive in weeks prior. The Razorbacks can pull back to .500 in conference play if they can defeat conference bottom-feeders Auburn and Missouri at home this week.
11. Tennessee (12-13, 5-7 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Last week’s results: Beat Auburn 71-45, lost to Missouri 75-64
The Volunteers greeted former coach Bruce Pearl back to Knoxville, Tenn., by embarrassing Auburn in one of their best efforts of the season. The problem is Tennessee followed that up by an equally as embarrassing road loss to Missouri. These are all parts of the growing pains coach Rick Barnes has been forced to battle during his first season with the program.
12. Mississippi State (10-14, 3-9 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 12
Last week’s results: Beat Arkansas 78-46, lost to UGA 66-57
Blowing out the Razorbacks will likely represent Mississippi State’s best victory of the season. The problem is it might be Mississippi State’s last victory for a while with games against Vanderbilt, Alabama, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Ole Miss looming.
13. Missouri (9-16, 2-10 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Last week’s results: Lost to Vanderbilt 86-71, beat Tennessee 75-64
The losing streak is finally over for the Tigers. They were rewarded by moving up one spot in the power rankings.
14. Auburn (9-15, 3-9 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Last week’s results: Lost to Tennessee 71-45, lost to Vanderbilt 86-57
Auburn lost both games by a combined margin of 55 points. No, a calculator was not used to solve that math problem. Things couldn’t get much worse for the Tigers, who are losers of seven straight.