The Southeastern Conference is squarely in the second half of the basketball season with 12 of 14 teams still hoping to at least be decent. As of Monday, all 12 of those hopefuls were in the RPI Top 120. That might not be a mighty rising tide lifting all boats, but it is at least a comfortable bath lifting a couple of rubber ducks — and that’s an important step in the right direction.
1. Florida (2) — There’s not much cumulative difference in the Top 3 but a 20-point win over Kentucky will put you in the penthouse suite every time.
2. Kentucky (1) — The Wildcats are one Malik Monk buzzer-beater away from a four-game losing streak. John Calipari promises a “reboot.” The rest of the league hopes it is a Samsung Galaxy.
3. South Carolina (3) — The new conventional wisdom is that defense doesn’t win championships, but don’t tell the Gamecocks, who couldn’t be more stifling unless they added Reuben Foster at power forward.
4. Tennessee (4) — If UT could hold on to large leads, it might be leading the SEC instead of fighting among the middle teams.
5. Arkansas (5) — The Razorbacks have pulled off the most dubious double play possible in the SEC: losing to Missouri in football and basketball.
6. Georgia (7) — The hard-luck Bulldogs came within three points of two wins over ranked opposition and ended up 0-2. Wins this week are imperative to keep bubble hopes afloat.
7. Ole Miss (12) — Last week was one of the great weeks in Ole Miss basketball as the Rebels routed Vanderbilt and finally got its revenge on Bryce Drew.
8. Auburn (8) — I was all set to say nice things about Auburn’s sweep of Alabama but fortunately Bruce Pearl reminded me that I was mainstream media and can just ignore it instead.
9. Vanderbilt (9) — There used to be one thing you could count on in SEC basketball and that was Vandy defending its weirdly configured home court. They’ve struggled with that lately so the next plan is put the visiting team bench in Belle Meade.
10. Texas A&M (10) — I try to avoid too many football/basketball comparisons in the Power Poll but talented team/high expectations/meh results pretty well sums up the Aggie year to date across the board.
11. Alabama (6) — Alabama has worked its way out of the hole it put itself in by losing at Auburn, only to jump right back in the hole, settle in and hire an interior decorator.
12. Mississippi State (11) — Fair is fair, and if you can’t rank Alabama ahead of Auburn, then you can’t rank MSU ahead of Alabama — although the comeback against Tennessee on Saturday was pretty remarkable.
13. LSU (13) — I feel bad for Johnny Jones, a nice guy, but all that’s left is to hire a caterer for the farewell luncheon.
14. Missouri (14) — The Tigers broke their long losing streak by beating Arkansas, allowing them to bounce off the bottom of the SEC pool and almost to drag LSU underwater with them.