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SEC Basketball Preview

Let’s take a quick look across the conference.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament Championship-Tennessee vs Kentucky Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time once again for some #SECBASKETBALLFEVER. The conference is looking to continue an upward trajectory in terms of overall quality. They’re still a bit behind the blue bloods but the conference will be a tough one this season. If you haven’t kept up with all the offseason happenings, we’ve got a quick capsule of all 14 teams this year, separated (alphabetically) into tiers where most media has each team slotted.

The Contenders

Auburn - (25-7, 13-5 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Bryce Brown (15.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.7 apg last season)

Quick Breakdown: It was one of the best seasons that Auburn has had in a long time and they still have a fair amount of production returning this season. Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, and Chuma Okeke are all back. Austin Wiley might miss the start of the year but should be back after missing all of last season. They’ve got plenty of firepower to compete with anyone in the conference this year.

Kentucky - (24-10, 10-8 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Reid Travis (Grad Transfer, 2-time 1st Team All-Pac 12 at Stanford)

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Breakdown: They’ve brought in their usual cavalry of McDonald’s All-Americans like Immanuel Quickley, E.J. Montgomery, and Keldon Johnson. They’re also bringing in one of the most talented transfers in college basketball. Travis was nearly putting up 20/10 a night, an incredible feat in college basketball. Now he’s playing with some of the most talented freshman in the country. This version of Kentucky is definitely going to be a force.

Tennessee - (25-8, 13-5 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Grant Williams (15.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg last season)

Quick Breakdown: Like Auburn, they fit the mold of having a spectacular year and bringing back nearly all of last year’s production. All six players who averaged over 20 minutes per game are back. That continuity should go a long way with a group of players who will have last year’s upset loss to tournament darlings Loyola Chicago on their minds.

In the NCAA Tournament Hunt

Alabama - (19-15, 8-10 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Donta Hall (10.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg last season)

Quick Breakdown: They lost Collin Sexton to the NBA, but they have a lot of pieces coming back like Hall, and Dazon Ingram. Tevin Mack, the transfer from Texas is also eligible to play this season, giving Avery Johnson a lot of options. They started the year slow but build a lot of momentum before falling to the eventual national champs in the NCAA Tournament. We’ll see if they can keep that moving forward.

Florida - (20-12, 11-7 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: KeVaughn Allen (11.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.4 apg last season)

Quick Breakdown: It’s Allen’s ninth and final year in Gainesville, along with Jalen Hudson. They lose Egor Koulechov and Chris Chiozza, but they are bringing in a top-20 recruiting class starring 5-star Andrew Nembhard.

LSU - (17-14, 8-10 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Tremont Waters (15.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 6.0 apg last season)

Quick Breakdown: Waters was one of the most underrated freshman in the country last season. Now they add McDonalds All-American Naz Reid to the mix. The Tigers look to have a much improved roster from last season.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Mississippi State vs LSU Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State - (22-11, 9-9 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: The Weatherspoon Brothers (Quinndary 14.4 ppg, 6 rpg; Nick 10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg last season)

Quick Breakdown: Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon could have the Bulldogs making that jump they haven’t been able to for so long. Those two and Reggie Perry will have their seasons goal set on the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009.

Vanderbilt - (12-20, 6-12 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Darius Garland (#14 overall recruit by 247Sports)

Quick Breakdown: How can we expect a team that went 6-12 in the SEC to contend for an NCAA Tournament berth? It’s simple, add two McDonald’s All-Americans and boom! You’ve got some buzz around your program. There will be questions though if Simisola Shittu can fully recover from an ACL tear he suffered in high school.

NIT Bound?

Arkansas - (23-11, 10-8 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Daniel Gafford (11.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg last season)

Quick Breakdown: How do you replace the production of Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon? That’s the task Mike Anderson has to answer with a completely new group of players. Having Daniel Gafford back will be a huge lift, but this team could struggle to keep up with the depth a lot of other programs in the conference have.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri - (20-12, 10-8 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Kevin Puryear (8.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg last season)

Quick Breakdown: They got some awful news to start the year when Jontay Porter, who was expected to be their leader in several stats, went down with an ACL injury. Now the trio of Puryear, Jeremiah Tillman, and Jordan Geist will be the three that the Tigers will look to for the majority of the season.

South Carolina - (17-16, 7-11 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Chris Silva (14.3 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.4 bpg last season)

Quick Breakdown: They may not have as much talent as everyone else, but you know you’re in for a fight against a Frank Martin coached team. Silva and Malik Kotsar will be tough to deal with in the post, and they’ll have a new guard in transfer Tre Campbell running the point. How well the guards play will have a lot to do with the Gamecocks’ success this season.

Texas A&M - (20-12, 9-9 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: T.J. Starks (9.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.3 apg last season)

Quick Breakdown: Wait didn’t A&M make the Sweet 16 last year? They sure did, but Tyler Davis, Robert Williams, DJ Hogg, and Duane Wilson are all gone. That combined with a pretty unsuccessful recruiting year, could lead to a pretty significant drop off.

Uh Oh

Georgia - (18-15, 7-11 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: William Jackson II (8.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.5 apg last season)

Quick Breakdown: Our first of two looking to rebuild with a new coach. Tom Crean has the unenviable task of building Georgia post Yante Maten, who was their do everything guy next year. With a ton of production leaving, and not a giant recruiting class coming in, it could be a rough transitional year for the Dawgs.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi Valley State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss - (12-20, 5-13 SEC in 2017-18)

Player to Watch: Terence Davis (13.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.1 apg last season)

Quick Breakdown: Things in Oxford are going to look a lot like Georgia. Kermit Davis is in after a long and successful spell with Middle Tennessee, but this current Ole Miss program will likely need some work.