It’s another Saturday in the Southeastern Conference as all fourteen basketball programs took to the court of battle for a wild day of basketball action. We started the day with the SEC matchup of the season as the Kentucky Wildcats traveled to Auburn to face the Tigers; following that, we had the second game of the Egg Bowl on the hardwood as Ole Miss went down to Starkville to take on Mississippi State. Before closing the evening cap with two high-profile matchups between Tennessee and LSU and Arkansas and Texas A&M.
Saturday was a day of learning for the entire conference as we now have a more clear-cut picture as to who is the top dogs, who are in the middle, and who will likely be playing on Wednesday night of the SEC Tournament.
First, Auburn is just that good. Auburn has had a once in lifetime type season so far, with the win over Kentucky on Saturday being the cherry on the top. As it stands right now, Auburn has started to distance itself from the rest of the pack as the Tigers are still undefeated in conference play. The Tigers also have a two-game lead over the current second-play team Folks around College Basketball have started the comparison to the 2019 team that made it to the Final Four before losing to Virginia in the Semi-Final round. However, the 2021-2022 Auburn team is built differently than that team with more of a complete roster that has a real shot at winning a National Championship.
Second, Kentucky has positioned itself for a deep March Madness run that is likely to end in another Final Four trip for the Big Blue Nation. For an entire half, Kentucky dominated Auburn before eventually getting bit by the injury bug that cost the Wildcats two guards down the stretch on Saturday afternoon. If healthy, Kentucky would have likely come away from Auburn with a massive statement win before next Saturday’s road trip to Kansas. Kentucky is the team that once March Madness rolls around, people will be picking to win the National Championship based on the overall body of work both on a healthy scale and even when the Wildcats are short-staffed. Coach Cal is on a vengeance tour this season and, it shows how hard the Wildcats play on any given possession.
Lastly, following Kentucky and Auburn is hard, and there are about six teams who have the potential to be great but just not on the same level as Kentucky and Auburn. In that group of six, you will find the likeness of Mississippi State, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, and Alabama. What we’re seeing out of that group so far in the season is a lot of rugged basketball that is preparing each of them for the NCAA Tournament. These six programs are the programs that could beat anybody in the country on any given night but also have an enormous amount of question marks remaining.
Here’s the thing, on any given Saturday in the Southeastern Conference, you will have eight to nine programs with legitimate shots to make the NCAA Tournament and make a deep run when they get there. Like in football and baseball, the SEC is a deep conference with a lot of basketball talent and potential that is unseen anywhere else in the country. Next Saturday is a massive opportunity for the entire conference to prove to the rest of the College Basketball world they belong in the conversation as the best basketball conference in the country.