The SEC was expected to be significantly stronger this year than for the last several, and to some extent, we have seen that happen. But many, including me, expected the SEC to be among the top three conferences this year, maybe even among the top two. That hasn't happened.
At this point, Ken Pomeroy has the SEC at 4th among the Big Six Division I conferences, to wit:
|1||Big Ten Conference||.8454||18||Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference||.4247|
|2||Big 12 Conference||.8265||19||Atlantic Sun Conference||.4136|
|3||Big East Conference||.7957||20||Big West Conference||.4109|
|4||Southeastern Conference||.7739||21||Sun Belt Conference||.3956|
|5||Atlantic Coast Conference||.7665||22||Patriot League||.3842|
|6||Pac 12 Conference||.7028||23||Big Sky Conference||.3571|
|7||Mountain West Conference||.6936||24||Northeast Conference||.3490|
|8||Atlantic 10 Conference||.6728||25||Big South Conference||.3472|
|9||Missouri Valley Conference||.6495||26||Southern Conference||.3448|
|10||Conference USA||.6150||27||Ohio Valley Conference||.3338|
|11||West Coast Conference||.5966||28||Southland Conference||.2979|
|12||Western Athletic Conference||.5001||29||America East Conference||.2864|
|13||Colonial Athletic Association||.4870||30||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference||.2307|
|15||Horizon League||.4758||32||Great West Conference||.1377|
|16||Mid American Conference||.4724||33||Southwestern Athletic Conference||.1094|
This is kind of a mixed bag, overall. SEC teams have had some notable success, like the Kentucky Wildcats, Florida Gators, and Mississippi St. Bulldogs. With that said, the Vanderbilt Commodores and Alabama Crimson Tide have been slight disappointments with Vanderbilt trending toward the "major disappointment" level.
Here's how the SEC teams stack up so far against each other in the early season:
Let's take a look at some of the teams that are vying for the top tier of the SEC but have not quite established their bona fides so far:
Vandy has been a significant disappointment, not so much for the close loss at Louisville, but for dropping two games to inexplicably weak opponents at home, namely the Cleveland St. Vikings and, just yesterday, the Indiana St. Sycamores in Memorial Gymnasium. Compound that with a solid whipping by the Xavier Musketeers in Nashville, and the start for the Commies has been anything but inspiring.
Vanderbilt still could right the ship a bit by finding a way to win in Milwaukee versus the Marquette Golden Eagles, but if they drop that one, they will have gone 0-fer versus top-flight non-conference comp and stagger into the conference season with a giant question mark by their name.
The Mississippi Rebels were not expected to be a top-tier SEC school this year, but they have been a bit of a pleasant surprise with a 9-2 record at this point. Unfortunately the Rebs have not played anyone of consequence so far, their toughest games to date being a blowout loss to Marquette at a neutral site and a close loss to the Southern Miss. Golden Eagles on the road.
Ole Miss has no ranked teams left in its non-conference schedule, but the Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders in a semi-home game and the Dayton Flyers on the road are both quality opponents against which the Rebels can prove their mettle.
The LSU Tigers have been a pleasant surprise so far with a quality non-conference win against Georgia Tech at a neutral site, but also with inexplicable losses to the South Alabama Jaguars at home and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on the road.
The Tigers get a shot at Marquette at home tomorrow, and if they pull off that upset, you have to figure them as a team to be reckoned with in the West. But lose that one and the weakness of their wins relegates them to the lower tier of SEC teams so far.
Overall, the SEC is better this year, but not as much as I and many other observers expected. Vanderbilt, and to a lesser extent, Alabama, have not really fulfilled their pre-season promise on the court. Ole Miss and LSU are showing signs of being teams that might make some noise this year, but are a long way from proving it. Kentucky, Mississippi St. and Florida are the only teams so far which have proven their chops against top non-conference competition.
But there are still a lot of games to go