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SEC Basketball Power Rankings - Week 1

NCAA Basketball: East Tennessee State at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Power Rankings – Week 1

This year, I am going to do a weekly SEC Basketball Power Rankings, but before we get started I want to lay some ground work on what to expect from week to week.

I had Kentucky winning the league this year so with their loss to Duke, they may drop down a spot or two. Does that mean I think that another team is better than them or will be the entire season? No. Of course not. Does that mean that a team ranked higher than another would automatically be picked to win by me? No. These are power rankings. It’s more about what have you done for me lately than anything else.

They will change week to week with big wins and bad losses. Week 1 is actually the hardest. I have to take hard stances on such small sample sizes in order to come up with the rankings. You’re going to disagree with me, but that’s okay. It’s just power rankings...they are made for debates!

Each week you will see me include “KP #...” KP stands for KemPon Rating.

Here we go!

#1 – Tennessee (Preseason Pick: 4)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #9

Last week’s games:

Defeated KP #347 Tennessee-Martin (90-62)
Defeated KP #146 East Tennessee St. (94-62)

The Vols have looked awesome for every bit of each game so far. The other projected top teams in the SEC can’t say the same. Freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler has done a little bit of everything averaging 18 points, 5 assists, 1.5 steals, and shooting 85.7% from 3. Olivier Nkamhoua is averaging a double-double through 2 games at 17 and 11.

This team is very, very good and may have been a little overlooked in the preseason. We will find out just how good they are this week when they Villanova on Saturday.

This week’s game:
Saturday, Nov. 20 - KP #8 Villanova at a neutral site

#2 – Kentucky (Preseason Pick: 1)
Record: 1-1
KenPom Rating: #16

Last week’s games:
Lost to KP #11 Duke (79-71)
Defeated KP #285 Robert Morris (100-60)

Kentucky is really good. Yes, they did lose to Duke, but it was a great game and Kentucky hung around. Sahvir Wheeler showed that he was ready for the bright lights and could really distribute with talented teammates around him. Duke’s freshman phenom Trevor Keels was able to get to the basket at will. His physicality was a problem for UK.

Oscar Tshiebwe has been extremely dominate so far. He has 39 rebounds in 2 games!

This week’s games:
Tuesday, Nov. 16 - KP #300 Mount St. Mary’s at home
Friday, Nov. 19 - KP #97 Ohio at home

#3 – Florida (Preseason Pick: 6)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #23

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #20 Elon (74-61)
Defeated KP #28 Florida St. (71-55)

The Gatos were underdogs against Florida State on Sunday, but were in control for much of the game. They outscored the Seminoles by 18 in the 2nd half. Florida showed a level of physicality we haven’t seen from the Gators in a long time. Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton is known for having teams with more size than any team in the country. That didn’t slow down Florida as they won the rebounding battle by 11. Colin Castleton had 16 rebounds himself.

Keyontae Johnson was the heart and soul of the Florida program the last few seasons. There were a lot of questions of what they would be without him this season. Florida looks the part early on!

This week’s game:
Thursday, Nov. 18 - KP #130 Milwaukee at home

#4 – Alabama (Preseason Pick: 2)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #12

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #102 Louisiana Tech (93-64)
Defeated KP #81 South Dakota St. (104-88)

Nate Oats scheduled 2 tough mid-majors to start the season with Louisiana Tech and South Dakota St. The Tide took care of business in game 1, but really struggled in the first 25 minutes against SDST. As expected, they were able to right the ship and cruise to a 16-point win.

The star for Alabama has been Keon Ellis. He was projected by many to be a breakout player this year and he has fit the bill so far. 16.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game on 58.8% shooting is impressive. Jaden Shackelford and Jaden Quinerly have continued their strong play from last year as they average a combined 37.5 points per game. Freshman point guard J.D. Davison has filled up the stat sheet coming off the bench with 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.

This week’s games:
Tuesday, Nov. 16 - KP #259 South Alabama at home
Friday, Nov. 19 – KP #166 Oakland at home

#5 – Arkansas (Preseason Pick: 3)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #19

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #176 Mercer (74-61)
Defeated KP #207 Gardner-Webb (86-69)

The Razorbacks had their own struggles on opening night and trailed by 8 at halftime against Mercer, but bounced back to win by 13. The offense wasn’t great in the opener or the preseason for Arkansas, but they figured a lot of things out against Gardner-Webb. The team achieved 282 passes and just 9 turnovers in that game. Eric Musselman’s goal is 200.

Arkansas gets one more tune-up before facing a step up in competition at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City during Thanksgiving week.

This week’s game:
Wednesday, Nov. 17 - KP #139 Northern Iowa at home

#6 – Auburn (Preseason Pick: 5)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #24

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #173 Morehead St. (77-54)
Defeated KP #267 Louisiana-Monroe (93-65)

Auburn started the season with a 40-11 lead over Morehead St. It can’t get much better than that then there was a bit of a head-scratcher on Friday with ULM. The Warhawks were coming off a 62 point loss to LSU, but found themselves leading Auburn.

Auburn, of course, responded well and won by 28. Jabari Smith is as good as advertised and the mid-major transfers seem to be adjusting well.

The scary part about this Auburn team is that they are still without their best player, Allen Flanigan. He’ll be back next month. Don’t sleep on this team.

This week’s game:
Friday, Nov. 19 - KP #190 South Florida on the road

#7 – LSU (Preseason Pick: 7)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #29

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #267 Louisiana-Monroe (101-39)
Defeated KP #168 Texas St. (84-59)

LSU has an unbelievable opening night beating ULM by 62 on Tuesday. Then on Friday, Texas State gave them a scare and played close for 25 minutes. This LSU offense can explode at any time.

Darius Days doesn’t miss. Seriously, I’m not sure I have ever seen him miss a 3. He’s averaging 23.5 points per game so far. Cincinnati transfer Tari Eason has been stellar off the bench averaging 14 and 10.

This week’s games:
Monday, Nov. 15 - KP #92 Liberty at home
Thursday, Nov. 18 – KP #330 McNeese St. at home

#8 – Mississippi State (Preseason Pick: 8)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #49

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #305 North Alabama (75-49)
Defeated KP #170 Montana (86-49)

MSU brought in a great class of transfer and they have hit the ground running. Iverson Molinar is due for a big year and the starting lineup around him is great. The question for MSU will be how can the bench players do? There are a lot of question marks there. Cam Carter has answered the call so far.

This week’s games:
Wednesday, Nov. 17 - KP #237 Detroit Mercy at home
Sunday, Nov. 21 – KP #173 Morehead St. at home

#9 – Ole Miss (Preseason Pick: 9)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #54

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #321 New Orleans (82-61)
Defeated KP #338 Charleston Southern (93-68)

Ole Miss has played the weakest schedule so far so it’s tough to have a solid idea what they are yet. Jarkel Joiner has made a nice jump from last year’s production. Luis Rodriguez and Austin Crowley are good contributing pieces. Ole Miss is another SEC team where overall talent is an issue. You may like the starting 5, but what do you have beyond that?

We will learn a lot about Ole Miss on Thursday.

This week’s game:
Thursday, Nov. 18 - KP #95 Marquette at a neutral site

#10 – Vanderbilt (Preseason Pick: 10)
Record: 2-0
KenPom Rating: #70

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #341 Alabama St. (91-72)
Defeated KP #168 Texas St. (79-60)

I really think is a Vanderbilt team that will be much improved this year. They still lack overall talent, but there are finally some pieces around Scotty Pippen Jr. who has done what he always does. 22.5 points per game to start the year.

Jordan Wright, Myles Stute, and Jamaine Mann have all been very efficient. Once Liam Robbins comes back from injury, we will know just how good this team can be.

This week’s game:
Wednesday, Nov. 17 - KP #120 VCU at home
Saturday, Nov. 20 – KP #160 Winthrop at home

#11 – Missouri (Preseason Pick: 11)
Record: 1-0
KenPom Rating: #100

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #308 Central Michigan (78-68)

With only one game played, there isn’t much to be said about Missouri. Central Michigan is projected to be very bad and only beating them by 10 isn’t ideal. Like Georgia, Missouri enters the season with very little returning so we’ll extend some grace again. They were also without returning veteran Kobe Brown and experienced Kansas St. transfer Dajuan Gordon.

An encouraging sign for Tigers fans was Javon Pickett. The senior saw his minutes cut last season while being a bench player. For him to play 39 minutes and score 18 points in the opener is surprising. If Pickett has made a big jump like that then this Missouri team can be better than I projected.

This week’s games:
Monday, Nov. 15 - KP #262 Kansas City at home
Thursday, Nov. 18 - KP #313 Northern Illinois at home
Sunday, Nov. 21 – KP #65 SMU at a neutral site

#12 – Georgia (Preseason Pick: 14)
Record: 1-1
KenPom Rating: #164

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #309 Florida International (58-51)
Lost to KP #107 Cincinnati (73-68)

Georgia is a bad basketball team. Considering they have almost no one on the court that played significant minutes last year, I am going to give them a little grace.

They beat FIU and it wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done. They hung around with Cincinnati, but fell short. The bright spots have been UIC transfer Braelen Bridges and Gonzaga transfer Aaron Cook. Both players are nearly averaging a double-double.

This week’s games:
Tuesday, Nov. 16 - KP #350 South Carolina St. at home
Friday, Nov. 19 - KP #55 Georgia Tech at home

#13 – Texas A&M (Preseason Pick: 12)
Record: 3-0
KenPom Rating: #80

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #244 North Florida (64-46)
Defeated KP #169 Abilene Christian (81-80 2OT)
Defeated KP #344 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (86-65)

Texas A&M is undefeated, but the game against Abilene Christian was inexplainable. The Aggies pride themselves on tough, hard-nosed defense, but gave up 80 points to ACU with 10 threes. That’s not who A&M is.

Hassan Diarra hit a game winning 3 in the final seconds to put the Aggies on top or it would have been a very bad loss.

Duke transfer Henry Coleman has been awesome so far averaging 15.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

This week’s game:
Wednesday, Nov. 17 - KP #346 Houston Baptist at home

#14 – South Carolina (Preseason Pick: 13)
Record: 2-1
KenPom Rating: #85

Last week’s games:
Defeated KP #334 USC-Upstate (78-60)
Lost to KP #156 Princeton (66-62)
Defeated KP #111 Western Kentucky (75-64)

South Carolina is without their best player, Keyshawn Bryant, for the first 5 games this season so I will try to be kind to them. With that said, why can’t Frank Martin consistently win non-conference games that he is supposed to win. The loss against Princeton is more of the same that we have seen from the Gamecocks in Martin’s tenure. It’s hard to believe they won’t take a loss to UAB this week.

Jermaine Couisnard and Wildens Leveque have been bright spots for the Gamecocks, but they desperately need Erik Stevenson to get going from 3 if they want to be competitive this year.

This week’s game:
Thursday, Nov. 18 - KP #60 UAB at home