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Is The SEC Overrated?

Disclaimer: Basketball Post and I'm too tired to finish what I wanted to do with this post. I may go back and edit it in the morning.

I'm not sure if anyone is still reading, but I am going to talk about the state of the SEC basketball right now. In between last night's double header on ESPN2 I was talking to some friends about how the SEC was struggling so far this seaso. I was accompanied by a Tennessee fan, but the rest were fans of mid-major programs (mainly Memphis, who is only mid-major by conference affiliation) and they were arguing that the SEC is always overrated as a basketball conference.

Granted, the SEC is clearly a football first conference, but it is it really fair to say it is the Big 10 of the basketball world? The argument with a couple of disillusioned Tiger fans is not what piqued my interest in this debate. I remember last season, while perusing the ESPN basketball boards, reading plenty of SEC hate from the ACC/Big East fans saying that the SEC was overrated every season. That always bothered me.

I'll start out by admitting that this season and last have been very poor for SEC hoops. Right now we only have one team in the Top 25 (Tennessee) and have LSU on the verge of making the jump into the rankings. Teams with high hopes at the start of the season (Alabama, Ole Miss, Kentucky, State, Florida) have yet to show anything that warrants praise and the leaders of the conference right now are only there because they failed to schedule anyone worthwhile during their out of conference play.

Last season, the SEC was able to send six teams to the Big Dance, but most of these were bubble teams that may or may not have deserved their bids: Arkansas (9), Tennessee (2), Vandy (4), Mississippi State (8), Kentucky (11) and Georgia (14).

The only team worth anything out of that group was Tennessee. Arguments could be made against the rest of the teams being left out, except for Vandy and Georgia (automatic bid).

In the tournament the SEC finished with a 4-6 record, with wins that included Arkansas over a tumultuous Indiana team (Sampson situation) and Tennessee's scrimmage against American. A win over a very overrated Butler team by Tennessee and State's win over Oregon were the only decent showings by an SEC squad in the Tournament. What happened to the Vols when they faced their first legitimate opponent? They lost by 19 to Louisville, who had at this point in the season had overcome the injuries/suspensions that plagued them earlier. I am including this information just so I can show that there is a basis for the argument against SEC basketball.

However, I do not see how people can look at the 2006 and 2007 seasons and say that the SEC is overrated as a basketball conference. Maybe rebuilding, but not overrated.

In the 2006 season, the SEC sent 6 teams to the only post season tournament that matters and finished the Tournament with a 13-5 record and had two teams in the final four and the National Champion. The SEC was able to tally wins over Duke (1), Marquette (7), Texas (2) Villanova (1), and UCLA (2). The SEC's 6 teams put them second in conference representation behind the Big East who has 1000 teams in its conference and is a piss-poor excuse for a BCS football conference, just saying.

2007 was a similar situation for the SEC as it sent 5 teams to the Tournament and compiled an 11-4 record in the Tournament and once again had the National Champions while having three of the 16 teams in the Sweet 16, who lost on last second shots in their games in the quarter finals.

So what has been the problem for the SEC? It's pretty simple. Youth. The SEC is definitely in a rebuilding mode right now as you are seeing tons of young talent begin to emerge around the conference. At Kentucky, Gillespie is recruiting plenty of talent such as Deandre Liggins, Florida and Donovan are stockpiling for another run shortly, Ole Miss has no seniors on this year's squad and will only have two next season, State is restocking after losing a trio of seniors with a solid freshman class right now, Alabama just had one of its best classes in a few years, and Tennessee has some of the most exciting young talent in the SEC with Woolridge, Maze and Hopson.

So yes, the SEC is down this season, but it is not overrated and will be back for next season, if they don't turn it around when conference play kicks up in January.