We're back with our weekly SEC Hoops Power Poll. This week, we had 10 different blogs covering SEC basketball contribute in the voting. Results are listed below.
Most teams are exactly halfway through the conference slate, having played eight SEC games, while a few have played nine. The SEC Championship race is starting to take shape, as is the list of NCAA Tournament contenders.
#1...(18-5, 7-2 SEC)...projected NCAA #5 seed
Last week: Won two thrillers at home against ranked teams, besting Vandy in OT and then Kentucky on the final possession.
This week: A road game at South Carolina (Wednesday, SEC Network) and a home game against Tennessee.
Outlook: Time for Bama fans to start hoping for some Gator losses, because after beating all four of the East's elite teams already, the Gators are the current favorite to take home the SEC crown.
#2...(16-6, 4-4 SEC)...projected NCAA #5 seed
Last week: Another week, more close road losses. This week's final-possession winners were Ole Miss and Florida.
This week: A tough week with Tennessee visiting Rupp (tonight, ESPN) and then a trip to Memorial Fortress.
Outlook: The 'Cats are no longer thinking SEC title after losing two more road games, and their seeding is now beginning to suffer. They're still the only SEC team with a high enough ceiling to be a real Final Four threat, though, and as their position in this poll shows, they still command a lot of respect.
#3...(15-7, 7-1 SEC)...projected NCAA #11 seed
Last week: Another big week for the Tide: cruised over Mississippi State at home, then took down Tennessee on the road in OT.
This week: Another challenging week with a trip to Memorial Fortress (Thursday, ESPN) and then a home date with red-hot Ole Miss.
Outlook: The Tide now have everyone's attention. Now, can they keep it up with the pressure building around all the SEC title and NCAA tournament talk?
#4...(16-6, 4-4 SEC)...projected NCAA #6 seed
Last week: Lost yet another close road game in OT at Florida, but rebounded nicely with an easy win over South Carolina at home.
This week: Memorial Fortress will host two of the league's top teams: Alabama (Thursday, ESPN) then Kentucky.
Outlook: The 'Dores are a good team with a good resume. If they could find a way to win close games away from home, they'd be a great team with a great resume.
#5...(15-8, 5-3 SEC)...projected NCAA #6 seed
Last week: Disposed of Auburn on the road, but fell to Alabama at home in OT.
This week: Doesn't get any tougher than road games at Kentucky (tonight, ESPN) and then Florida.
Outlook: The Vols will have their coach back the rest of the way, and should soon be fully healthy once again. Good thing, because their schedule is going to be brutal.
#6...(16-6, 5-4 SEC)...projected NCAA #10 seed
Last week: Wasn't pretty, but can't complain about the results after stealing a win late at Arkansas and then escaping Auburn in OT at home.
This week: Non-conference home tilt with Xavier (tonight, ESPNU), then a road trip to South Carolina.
Outlook: Bulldogs got the wins they needed last week, but they could use the two this week to give themselves some slack in their chase for a tournament bid.
#7...(15-8, 3-5 SEC)
Last week: Rebs got the conference's attention with a last-second win at home over Kentucky and then a road win at Arkansas.
This week: LSU at home (Wednesday, CSS), then at Alabama.
Outlook: Last week you read right here: "No team--East or West--has had a tougher schedule to start league play. It's probably too late for them to finish atop the West, but this is a way better team than their SEC record indicates." With last week's performance backing that up, keep in mind 6 of their last 8 are against the bottom five teams in this poll.
#8...(13-8, 4-4 SEC)
Last week: Won at LSU but succumbed to Vandy at Memorial Fortress.
This week: A pair of key tests at home: first Florida (Wednesday, SEC Network), then Georgia.
Outlook: Their 4-4 SEC record is admirable, but unlike Ole Miss, it's going to be tough sledding down the stretch. 7 of their last 8 are against teams in the top seven of this poll.
#9...(14-8, 4-5 SEC)
Last week: Dropped two winnable games at home, first to Georgia on a questionable late call, then to Ole Miss.
This week: Key games in the West race: at Mississippi State (Wednesday, SEC Network), then home against LSU.
Outlook: The Hogs' NIT and SEC West hopes took a huge hit with two home losses, but an NIT berth and an SEC tournament bye are both within reach for this hot-and-cold team.
#10...(12-10, 4-4 SEC)
Last week: Fell to Alabama on the road, but escaped Baton Rouge with a one-point win.
This week: Two must-win games: Arkansas at home (Wednesday, SEC Network), then at Auburn.
Outlook: Another week of off-court turmoil clouds the program, but they're still very much in the race with Ole Miss and Arkansas for the #2 seed in the West, if they don't completely melt down in the meantime.
#11...(10-13, 2-6 SEC)
Last week: Lost a pair of home games to South Carolina and Mississippi State.
This week: Road trips to Ole Miss (Wednesday, CSS) and Arkansas don't look too promising.
Outlook: The Tigers are the weakest team in the league at the moment. Only Auburn's 6-point first-half performance back in the two teams' epic SEC-opening clash are keeping them out of the dreaded cellar.
#12...(8-15, 1-8 SEC)
Last week: Fell to Tennessee at home, but then nearly shocked Georgia on the road.
This week: Week off, then Mississippi State at home.
Outlook: This team has had every reason to quit, but against all logic they continue to improve. Another SEC win or two is possible, which might be enough to erase talk of their being the worst major-conference team of all time.
* * *
For the record, my votes in the poll:
5) Alabama (now that we're showing up in brackets, I finally feel okay putting us past fellow bubble team UGA, but still can't justify putting us past the four NCAA locks)
7) Ole Miss
8) South Carolina
10) Mississippi State
11) Auburn (their record is still worse than LSU's, but unlike their Tiger counterparts, they keep getting better instead of worse)
So my votes were virtually identical to the results, with the only exception being I had Bama a little lower than others, and I had LSU and Auburn reversed.