Saturday, January 23, 2016

SEC Update

I like to think that somewhere in Scotland, there's a blogger who follows SEC basketball, and who gets as frustrated with seeing the same teams win over and over as I do with Scottish soccer.  Since 2010, here are your SEC regular season champions (regular season champs who also won the SEC Tournament are in bold):

2010:  Kentucky (14-2)
2011:  Florida (13-3)
2012:  Kentucky (16-0)
2013:  Florida (14-4)
2014:  Florida (18-0)
2015:  Kentucky (18-0)

Now, to me, these seasons were pretty darn exciting, but I can imagine that an imaginary person in Scotland with no rooting interest would want to see more hard-fought battles for the SEC Crown.

Well, if such a person exists, he should be pretty excited about the current standings.  Kentucky and Florida are still near the top of the league, but the big power in the SEC so far has been Texas A & M.  Remember the Aggie team that took UK to double overtime last year?  That team finished 11-7 in the SEC and 21-12 overall, and this year, they are even better -- 16-2 and 6-0 in conference.  Kudos to Coach Billy Kennedy -- a former Murray State coach.  (Another former Murray State coach, Steve Prohm, has Iowa State in the top 20 and just beat number-1 Oklahoma.)

Meanwhile, Frank Martin has continued his steady job at South Carolina.  He came there from Kansas State to take over a program that had almost no talent -- in his first year, they were ranked 210 in the country by Ken Pom.  The next year, they finished 114th in the country.  Last year, they were up to 67.  And this year, they are 17-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC.

With that background in mind, here are the current standings, with Ken Pomeroy's rankings and conference records:

7.  Texas A & M:  6-0

40.  S. Carolina:  4-1

25.  Kentucky:  4-2
30.  Florida:  4-2
66.  Louisiana St:  4-2

26.  Vanderbilt:  3-3
64.  Arkansas:  3-3
87.  Georgia:  3-3
154.  Auburn:  3-3

89.  Tennessee:  2-4
105.  Mississippi:  2-4

86.  Alabama:  1-4
183.  Missouri:  1-4

104.  Mississippi St:  0-5

A couple of further notes here.  Keep an eye on Mississippi State.  After the 2012 season, the Bulldogs placed the eccentric Rick Stansbury -- who took MSU to the NCAA Tournament on at least six different occasions, and who always gave UK fits -- with Rick Ray.  In three years in Starkville, Ray went 13-41 in SEC play, and never finished better than 179 in Ken Pom.  So the Bulldogs went out and got Ben Howland, who took UCLA to the Final Four three times in a row from 2006 to 2008.  I always thought Howland was a great game coach, but he had some high-profile problems with some high-profile recruits, which ended his run in L.A.  So far, the Bulldogs are 0-5 in the SEC, but they have moved from 179 to 104 in K-Pom's rankings, and they did give UK fits a few weeks ago in Lexington.
Also, keep an eye on Vandy.  After their run to the SEC Tournament championship in 2012, the Commodores fell on hard times -- Ken Pom had them ranked 95th in 2013 and 112th in 2014.  But last year, they jumped up to 36th, and would have made the NCAA Tournament if not for their terrible record in close games.  This year, they are 11-7 -- and six of their seven losses were by eight points or less.  They got off to an 0-3 start in the SEC -- losing 90-82 at home to LSU (in a game where Ben Simmons had 36 points and 14 rebounds), and then dropping heartbreakers at Arkansas (90-85 in OT) and South Carolina (69-65).  But since then, they've been on a roll (home teams listed first):

01/12/16:  Vanderbilt 75 - 57 Auburn
01/16/16:  Vanderbilt 71 - 63 Alabama
01/20/16:  Tennessee 74 - 88 Vanderbilt

The win in Knoxville was a big deal, as that place is normally a House of Horrors for Vandy.  Now they are rolling into Lexington with a showdown with the team that Vandy Coach Kevin Stallings hates above all others.  Ken Pom gives the Dores a 33 percent chance of success.  And I will be very surprised if Vandy doesn't play a great game.


  1. I think my main man from Mount Washington, Derek Willis, might have a little something to say about this post.

  2. Yeah, my prediction here was really off. The Cats blew out Vandy, 76 to 57. I'm pretty sure that's their biggest margin of victory over the Dores since Coach Cal came to town.

  3. Now the SEC looks like this:

    7. Texas A & M: 7-0

    22. Kentucky: 5-2
    26. Florida: 5-2
    60. LSU: 5-2

    46. S. Carolina: 4-2

    83. Georgia: 4-3

    32. Vanderbilt: 3-4
    57. Arkansas: 3-4
    81. Tennessee: 3-4
    159. Auburn: 3-4

    112. Mississippi: 2-5

    89. Alabama: 1-5
    104. Mississippi St: 1-5
    177. Missouri: 1-5

  4. By the way, last year SEC teams had very little home court advantage, compared to teams in other conferences. According to Ken Pomeroy, in 2015 SEC home teams ranked 28th in winning percentage, compared to home teams in the other 32 conferences.

    I hoped that this meant that the SEC had decided to start calling games fairly, without so much "home cooking" as usual. I took this is a very good sign.

    Alas, this year the SEC is back to its old ways. So far, the home team has won 70.2 percent of SEC games, the second-highest percentage of any conference.