For the first time this season, Roll 'Bama Roll will be participating in the SEC Hoops Power Poll. We're somewhat late to the party, but starting this week we'll update you with the weekly results which are released each Monday. Starting this weekend, I'll submit a draft ballot on the site and open things up for comments to decide on a final ballot for Roll 'Bama Roll. I submitted our ballot for this week on my own.
Below are the results for this week, which were released Monday and so do not include last night's game. There were nine SEC basketball blogs participating in the poll this week.
1. Kentucky (108, unanimous #1)- Despite starting three freshmen, the #2 'Cats are inching ever closer to their first SEC title in five years. If they survive this brutal week of road trips, they should clinch the conference title and all but wrap up a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They prevailed last night in a nail-biting overtime win in Starkville, but the real test will come on Saturday in Nashville, where Vandy is all but unbeatable.
2. Vanderbilt (96, unanimous #2)- In the midst of one of their best seasons in school history, the #19 'Dores are within reach of their first SEC title in 17 years. It won't come easily though, as they must travel to face Ole Miss tomorrow night before hosting Kentucky in a huge game on Saturday. Win both, and they will find themselves atop the SEC standings. Regardless of whether they can catch the 'Cats, Vandy will be dancing this season and will likely have a high seed.
3. Tennessee (88)- The #18 Vols dropped both games last week, but they were on the road against Vandy and Kentucky. They have a good chance to rebound this week with a home game against Georgia tonight and a trip to Columbia on Saturday. Despite the recent losses, the Vols look all but certain to make the Dance.
4. Mississippi State (75)- The Bulldogs have been somewhat disappointing this year after a lofty preseason ranking, but they are still the most talented team in the West. They lost a heart-breaker last night in OT against #2 Kentucky and are currently without their leading scorer Ravern Johnson due to suspension, but MSU can still make the Dance if they finish strongly, beginning with their trip to LSU on Saturday. They are currently squarely on the NCAA bubble, so they must finish strongly in SEC play.
5. Florida (69)- The Gators have been a hard team to figure out this season. Just when it looks like they are a top-20 caliber team, they fall flat on their face, and just when it looks like their tournament hopes are down and out, they rally and find ways to win. Like MSU, they are squarely on the NCAA bubble, so they must finish strongly. They need to beat Auburn at home on Thursday night, and then they have a great opportunity on the road against fellow bubble-dwellers Ole Miss on Saturday.
6. Ole Miss (65)- The Rebs have struggled in SEC play after a very strong start in non-conference play led to a top-20 ranking. At 5-5 in the conference, they are yet another SEC team that is squarely on the bubble. This week will go a long way in determining their tournament fate, as they will host two huge games in Oxford. First up is #19 Vandy on Thursday night, followed by Florida on Saturday. Win both and they will be in great position to make the Dance. Lose both and they could see their hopes slip away yet again.
7. Arkansas Razorbacks (55)- The Hogs have caught fire in SEC play after an embarrassing start in non-conference play. They are currently on top of the West, and may very well end up #1 in the standings when all is said and done, but it is very unlikely they can overcome all of the losses they suffered early on. They have two very winnable games this week that could give them a cushion in the West, hosting South Carolina tonight and then traveling to Auburn on Saturday.
8. South Carolina (49)- The 'Cocks were looking like a tournament team for a while this season, but at 5-5 in SEC play, they need to pick things up quickly to put themselves back into the NCAA picture. Devan Downey will always make them a factor (at least for a few more weeks), but the wins need to start coming soon if they want to dance this year. They travel to Fayetteville tonight before hosting #18 Tennessee on Saturday.
9. Alabama (35)- The Tide is good enough to be an NIT team, the only question is whether or not they can pull out enough close games to make it happen. They are a tough team that has been able to play with anyone, but has lost too many close games at this point to make a serious run at the Dance. However, the Tide has the potential to close strong and make some noise in the West standings and possibly snag an NIT berth. They travel to Athens on Saturday after a week off.
10. Georgia (30)- The 'Dawgs have experienced a very similar season as Alabama. They are also rebuilding under a first-year coach and have proven to be a very tough team to beat. Like the Tide though, they have also struggled to pull out close games, and as such are now looking for a possible NIT invite to end their season. They travel to Knoxville tonight before hosting Bama on Saturday.
11. Auburn (20)- The Tigers, like usual, are under-talented and under-sized yet always feisty. They are just good enough to cause teams problems and can not be overlooked. That said, they just haven't done enough to warrant an invite to postseason play, although they still have time to cause some heartache for the league's bubble teams. They travel to Gainesville on Thursday night before hosting Arkansas on Satruday.
12. LSU (9, unanimous #12)- The Tigers are in serious danger of becoming the first team since the 1991-92 SEC expansion to go 0-16 in league play. They have Tasmin Mitchell and have shown some fight as of late, but most teams have been able to handle them easily. They host MSU on Saturday after a week off.