Coming into the season, the buzz around college basketball was about how the SEC finally had several quality teams. And while that is not completely false, the cream of the conference is already starting to rise to the top.
The Tennessee Volunteers and Auburn Tigers were supposed to compete for the conference title. Tennessee is now the No. 1 team in the country, and Auburn has fallen out of the polls.
Vanderbilt was supposed to ride the wave of top freshmen Simi Shittu and Darius Garland, but after Garland’s injury the Commodores have gone into a free fall, perhaps hitting rock bottom against Kentucky on Tuesday.
LSU and Alabama are better than expected, but Mississippi State has been quite a disappointment.
After Kentucky’s annihilation of Vanderbilt on Tuesday, it seems that the SEC Tournament seeding pictures is starting to come into view. Kentucky and Tennessee appear to be competing for a top seed, with LSU, who is undefeated in conference play, on their heels.
Alabama and South Carolina are a few upsets away from challenging for one of those coveted top four seeds in the SEC Tournament, which would lead to a double bye. However, South Carolina seems to be coming back down to earth a bit, losing to LSU and Tennessee by an average of 17 points.
Basically, Kentucky is fully in the driver’s seat for a double bye in the tournament. And with as bad as the bottom of the has been, that would likely result in a less-competitive quarterfinal match-up than expected.
Tennessee will roll into Rupp Arena on February 16th for what could possibly be a top five matchup. That game itself will not determine the top spot in the SEC when it’s all said and done, but it could swing the momentum in the winner’s favor in a huge way.
After opening SEC play with a disappointing loss to Alabama, many did not expect Kentucky to be playing the way that they are in recent weeks. This team looks much more like the group many expected coming out of the Bahamas than the team we had seen coming out of non-conference play.
The Wildcats certainly seem to be coming into their own at the right time, and Tuesday’s statement win at Vanderbilt has put the rest of the SEC on notice.
Here is a look at the updated SEC standings via ESPN:
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