Here we are! Right smack dap in the middle of SEC Basketball season with many more questions than answers. It’s been an insane season; there have been shockers, wild moments, and storylines that don’t seem real. The fever for SEC Basketball has peaked across the Southeastern Conference as attendance numbers have spiked with the product on the court. The craziest part is the emergence of new blood across SEC Basketball. As it stands, Kentucky, the blue blood of the SEC, is not at the top; Alabama and Texas A&M are there with undefeated conference records. Georgia is having a remarkable season under first-year Head Coach Mike White. While those in Oxford, Mississippi, are in anguish after starting conference play winless with a Head Coach who seems to have given up. After a fast start in non-conference play, Arkansas and Mississippi State seem to have cooled off, starting SEC play with one win. Tennessee and Auburn are lurking in the shadows with one loss and a lot of basketball to be played.
For starters, Alabama, at this point in the season, is far none better than anybody in the conference. What Coach Nate Oats has turned Alabama Basketball is downright terrifying for the rest of the SEC. Wins over Michigan State, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Houston, Mississippi State, and a beatdown of Kentucky; have separated them as a legitimate National Championship contender. Alabama Basketball is what many thought their Football team would be in 2022. Sure, somebody in the SEC will catch them on a cold night from behind the arc and will likely beat them, but Alabama is still the favorite to win the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.
As far as Kentucky goes, Coach Cal and his Wildcats have struggled to put things together this season. Kentucky has lost at home to South Carolina and on the road at Missouri and Alabama. Many across the Big Blue Nation rightfully panicked last Tuesday night as the Wildcats were stunned by the Gamecocks at Rupp Arena. Many after that loss had given up on the season, yet, in typical Calipari fashion, took his team on the road on Saturday and earned a massive win over the fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Not sure what to expect from Kentucky, but the Wildcats have the talent to rebound the season and potentially make a lot of noise come March Madness. Kentucky has another monster week as the Wildcats prepare to host Georgia on Tuesday and the Aggies of Texas A&M on Saturday. A win in both, and folks around the Bluegrass state could be singing a different tune from a week ago.
At the bottom half of the Southeastern Conference, you will find the winless Ole Miss Rebels dormant, praying the season will hurry up and turn into baseball. After watching them play on Saturday in their loss against Georgia, the fight needed to make noise in the SEC isn’t there. Not because they don’t have a great coach, Kermit Davis has done everything he can to turn the program around; there’s something about the culture that isn’t fitting. Unfortunately, barring a miracle, Ole Miss will be on the market for their third coach since getting rid of Andy Kennedy.
As the season progresses and teams take a break in a week with the Big-12 challenge, they continue to be storylines that tell themselves. Word to the wise, don’t count out Auburn and don’t count out Rick Barnes and the Tennessee Volunteers. Both programs have deep rotations built for deep runs in March. In a College Basketball season without a clear favorite, the odds of a National Championship trophy returning to the Southeastern Conference for the first time since 2012 are high. You have about six to seven teams with rosters that have the talent to make it to Houston in early April. It’ll be interesting to watch as SEC Basketball Fever continues toward heights never seen before. For many fans of SEC Basketball, the waters we’re entering are uncharted, yet, the enjoyment will never go away.