Well... Christmas break has come and gone across the nation and SEC basketball is now ready to ramp up — for most teams.
At the moment Ole Miss v. Florida is postponed due to COVID, but the rest of the conference matchups are slated to kick off Wednesday night. Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M will be in non-conference matchups as well.
Ole Miss sits at a pretty disappointing 8-4, which is tied for the 11th best record in the SEC with the Vanderbilt Commodores. Unless something drastic changes, Coach Kermit Davis is headed for the worst season since the Rod Barnes administration (ignore Andy Kennedy’s final season when he didn't even finish the final 4 games). After three tournaments appearances in his first four seasons, Barnes was rather atrocious, never amassing a winning season again.
Kermit already has one losing season under his belt, the same amount as Kennedy did in his 12 season tenure (seems good?). So here is a look around the SEC at the other schools standing in the way of the Rebels making the NCAA Tournament for just the fifth time in the last 20 years.
LSU Tigers (12-0, No. 16 AP, No. 3 NET)
Will Wade might be more invincible than Al Capone. Dude just dodging FBI investigations deftly, and he is probably the biggest proponent of the NIL and its direct correlation with the talent he has on the floor as the LSU tigers are the lone undefeated team in the SEC. Whatever magic/used car salesman tricks he used to keep his job has translated to winning games, making them a tough out for any opponent.
Tennessee Volunteers (9-2, No. 14 AP, No. 8 NET)
A typical Rick Barnes season is underway. UT is going to be very, very good in the regular season and then completely disappear in the postseason leaving its fans looking for someone to blame. Kennedy Chandler is a star but so was Kevin Durant.
Auburn Tigers (11-1, No. 11 AP, No. 10 NET)
Will Wade’s best friend and backyard BBQ buddy Bruce Pearl has perhaps the most talented player in the country in Jabari Smith. I wonder if he paid him before NIL laws were passed or is just telling people the pool party was legal. Auburn is legit, just like when it outbid State for Cam Newton (editor’s note: my man is coming for Auburn today HELLO).
Kentucky Wildcats (9-2, No. 18 AP, No. 23 NET)
The days of the SEC bowing down to John Calipari and his army of one-and-dones are over. Part of that will be because of the NIL but also due to the fact Calipari actually isn’t a good coach. Almost every guard he has had: has played four to five levels higher in the NBA than they ever did in college. He was just an awesome recruiter that time is starting to pass by, fingers crossed.
Alabama Crimson Tide (9-3, No. 19 AP, No. 24 NET)
Another basketball program on the rise with a phenomenal coach. The Tide are loaded with talent but can be unpredictable. Bama beat No. 3 Gonzaga who many believe to be the favorite to win it all but lose to a dysfunctional Memphis team (that the Rebs beat) and Davidson — without Steph Curry.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-3, No. 41 NET)
The Mississippi State Fighting Little Brothers have put together a decent resume thus far with all of its free agent signings but will it be enough to make a tournament bid? Imagine a couple of losses to its big brother would add an extra sting to finding themselves in the NIT.
Florida Gators (9-3, No. 53 NET)
Remember when everyone in Oxford was upset we let the Gators hire Mike White instead of the Rebs? I wish I could say we dodged that bullet, but it is starting to look like Ole Miss got hit by a different one. The NET suggests the Gators will be a bubble team and that seems to be its best case scenario.
Texas A&M Aggies (10-2, No. 66 NET)
Buzz and the bouncing Bjorks could use the likes of Robert Williams and Alex Caruso. Despite the massive athletic budget and talented coach, the Aggies look the part of frauds as it has only beaten two pretty solid teams in Butler and Notre Dame. Don’t let the record fool you, the NET tells the true story here.
Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4, No. 84 NET)
“When does baseball officially start? “, a greasy haired fan says from his van by the Tennessee River. Vandy basketball hasn’t been relevant since Bryce Drew’s first season playing with Kevin Stalling’s players, yet here it is ahead of Ole Miss in the NET, probably destined to beat the Rebs this season because, ya know, WAOM. Jerry Stackhouse’s coaching career is shaping up to be like his NBA career...mid.
Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2, No. 90 NET)
The Hogs’ NET ranking is its fault. When you schedule a bunch of cupcakes, you are going to have your work cut out for you in conference play if you don’t win the conference tournament. Don’t let the NET fool you though, Arky is the second highest scoring team in the league and will make the tourney when all is said and done.
South Carolina Gamecocks (8-3, No. 105 NET)
A top-half scoring team in the SEC that should not be overlooked. With a good coach and a talented young star in Jacobi Wright, South Carolina might make as much noise as Kansas St. ever did. Not much, but more than a lot of others.
Ole Miss Rebels (8-4, No. 131 NET)
The self proclaimed “deepest team in the league” is buried pretty deep in the NET rankings. You have to be looking for them to notice them. A win over Memphis does not look great with its own turmoil, but following it with two bad losses, just flat out negates it. Unless Daeshun Ruffin and Matthew Murrell turn into All-Americans over night, Rebel basketball fans should tune into the Lady Rebels instead.
Georgia Bulldogs (5-7, No. 208 NET)
Another team boasting a win over the Memphis Tigers, it does more damage to Memphis than good for them. Tom Crean has struggled to repeat his success from his Indiana days without Anthony Edwards on roster. At least the Bulldogs scheduled some actual non-conference competition, unlike the Razorbacks.
Missouri Tigers (6-6, No. 235 NET)
Maybe two good wins, a few bad bad losses and a decently tough schedule is tough to overcome without the Porter brothers. This might be the only sure win in front of the Rebs. Missouri will be cellar dwellers all season and struggle to get even 3-4 conference wins.
The SEC is perhaps deeper than ever in both player talent and coaching talent. Ole Miss is behind the needle on both fronts and will need its veterans to figure it out while the talented duo of Ruffin and Murrell are forced to group up rather quickly. This could be a long painful conference run for the Rebs and Coach Davis.