At the first turn, no one is undefeated and only two teams have just one conference loss. The parity in this league is incredible, and unlike previous years, it's not because most of the league is merely average. We'll lean a little less on head-to-head and a little more on RPI as we go each week, but such little space between the top and bottom of each division team leaves room for lots of movement. So here's how we rank them this week - as always, we welcome your thoughts:
1. Florida (15-4, 4-1 - RPI 17)
The top team in our poll has a home loss to South Carolina and a horrendous road performance at Auburn (winning 45-40). But Saturday's 32 point win over Arkansas also showed what they're capable of at their best. There were some bumps in the non-conference road, but this is a team that's now won seven of eight, and in this crazy league that's as consistent as it's going to get, and good enough for the top spot this week.
2. Georgia (14-4, 3-2 - RPI 43)
Still keeping them in front of Kentucky - along with the head-to-head win, UK's loss at Alabama is worse than UGA's loss at Vanderbilt and the buzzer-beater with the Vols. Georgia didn't let that one slow them down for long, blasting Mississippi State by 22 on Saturday. The Gators and Dawgs get together Tuesday night.
3. Kentucky (15-4, 3-2 - RPI 15)
The Cats drop one spot this week after showing their, ahem, selfish youth along with their incredible potential. After losing at Alabama, UK was impressive in a nine point win at South Carolina. This is still without question the most talented team in the league, but the Gators are a better team...for now.
4. Tennessee (12-7, 2-2 - RPI 21)
It was frustrating for us, but there's little shame in the loss at UConn, which continued a general trend of good basketball with this team. The Vols play four West teams over the next two weeks to finish up Bruce Pearl's suspension - UT may not move up any between now and then, but it should be Tony Jones' goal to be 6-2 when he turns it back over, a number that would certainly have the Vols among the frontrunners for the league title.
5. Vanderbilt (14-4, 2-2 - RPI 19)
While the Vols were losing at UConn, the Dores were blowing out #21 St. Mary's in Nashville. Both teams have a pair of overtime conference losses...so here again, we go back to head-to-head, and give UT the bump.
6. Alabama (12-7, 4-1 - RPI 142)
Look out, the West has broken through! Not only has Alabama beaten South Carolina, the home win over Kentucky gives them an opportunity to put the NCAA Tournament in the back of their minds. There are miles to go before we can seriously consider them, but their next two are against LSU and Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa...could be 6-1 in the league. What if a West team wins the SEC at 12-4 because a bunch of East teams are stuck at 11-5? Would that team get in...could Alabama be that team?
7. South Carolina (12-6, 3-2 - RPI 78)
Carolina is in the same boat with Alabama and Arkansas when it comes to the NCAA Tournament...except they have to play everyone in the East twice. Maybe a little reality check against Kentucky - they've got Auburn and LSU next before they play five straight against the rest of the division.
8. Arkansas (12-6, 2-3 - RPI 106)
There's losing, and then there's what the Hogs did in Gainesville. Couple with the overtime loss in Columbia, and the Pigs are moving in the wrong direction - after playing Auburn Tuesday night, they'll get at Vanderbilt and vs Georgia. If they want to entertain the tournament, they've gotta beat one of those two East teams and cannot lose to the West.
9. Mississippi State (10-8, 2-2 - RPI 186)
Any momentum they might've built with wins over Auburn and Ole Miss was shattered in the blowout loss to Georgia. Is their season over? And even if it's not...how many wins will it take to save Rick Stansbury's job?
10. Ole Miss (13-7, 1-4 - RPI 84)
Strength of schedule helps their RPI number, but their only SEC win is LSU, and they lost to Mississippi State. They're off midweek before facing Tennessee and Kentucky in Oxford.
11. LSU (10-9, 2-2 - RPI 187)
The only easy part of this poll...
12. Auburn (7-12, 0-5 - RPI 313)
...is the bottom. Seriously, the Tigers are murdering everyone's strength of schedule.