The first SEC Power Poll for basketball, 2009-10 version is out at Garnet and Black Attack.
My ballot and discussion of it follows the jump.
First of all, here is my ballot:
|1||Kentucky Wildcats||15||0||0||0||10||16||What can you say? The 'Cats are the class of the league and the most talented team in the country.|
|2||Tennessee Volunteers||11||2||0||0||35||31||What will happen now after losing the Four Funslingers? The Vols still have talent, but they are very shallow depth-wise.|
|3||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||12||3||0||0||16||68||As big and talented as they are, the non-conference season can only be seen as disappointing.|
|4||Vanderbilt Commodores||11||3||0||0||39||37||No excuse for this talented and experienced team not to have had a better early season. They need to pick it up in conference play.|
|5||Mississippi Rebels||12||2||0||0||29||39||This team plays fast and well. A real contender for the West. Very good non-conference start.|
|6||Florida Gators||11||3||0||0||42||79||Soft and lacking bulk in the front line, but talented enough to make some noise.|
|7||Alabama Crimson Tide||10||4||0||0||81||75||Anyone who didn't know Anthony Grant was a good coach before, does now.|
|8||South Carolina Gamecocks||9||5||0||0||80||85||Losing Holmes and Archie are devastating. Devan Downey just doesn't have enough help.|
|9||Georgia Bulldogs||8||5||0||0||111||96||Turns the ball over too much and fouls the wrong people, but Mark Fox is doing okay so far with the Dawgs.|
|10||Auburn Tigers||9||6||0||0||135||192||Can't shoot threes and gives up a ton. Not a recipe for success.|
|11||LSU Tigers||9||5||0||0||149||154||This team doesn't shoot well from anywhere, but top to bottom, this is the youngest team in the league.|
|12||Arkansas Razorbacks||7||8||0||0||161||223||Figures to get better with Fortson back.|
The first thing you may notice is that I rank the Volunteers higher than the aggregated poll. That's because no matter how much I loathe Bruce Pearl, I have nothing but respect for his ability as a coach, and Tennessee's hammering of a not-that-bad Charlotte 49ers team tells me that these guys still have a ton of fight in them, and some very good talent. What I doubt is their depth, and I do not expect any of the Four Funslingers to return this year, so what they have is all they get. Unless, of course, they can bring in some football player to help. Anything is possible.
You might think my ranking of Ole Miss down below MSU is disrespectful of the great team Anthony Kennedy has, but that's not the case. MSU has more talent, and until they prove to me that they aren't going to live up to expectations, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. Rick Stansbury's team did have some bad losses in the non-conference season, notably against the Rider Broncs and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, but they also had some good wins against the Old Dominion Monarchs, the Wright St. Raiders, and the Houston Cougars.
Vanderbilt has played some disappointing games, particularly against the aforementioned Hilltoppers (who are SEC-killers this year). But they also beat an outstanding Missouri Tigers team at home and a very good St. Mary's, Calif. Gaels team on the road. Vandy also had the toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC.
Finally, I want to put a word in for the Alabama Crimson Tide. If you aren't impressed with what first-year coach Anthony Grant has done so far, you should be. Alabama has excellent neutral-court victories against the Baylor Bears and Michigan Wolverines, both of whom will get better as the year goes on. Alabama also gave the #4 Purdue Boilermakers a very stern test, leading for most of the game and losing in the last four minutes. I think Alabama will contend for the West, and the game against Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa on the 13th will tell us a lot about both teams.
For the Kentucky Wildcats, there really isn't much to say. Right now, the 'Cats are the runaway class of the league, much as they have been for most of a century. There are teams that figure to give the Wildcats trouble, and even hand them a loss or two, but it's hard to see at this point how Kentucky doesn't win the SEC fairly handily. That can always change, but right now, they look rock solid.
Your comments are welcome and encouraged.