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The SEC Shooty Hoops Review: November 11th to December 18th (Mega Post)

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2000 words about basketball? IT’S EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED!

NCAA Basketball: Lipscomb at Tennessee
Who wants weekly SEC basketball updates?!
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

We here at RTT know how you feel. It’s cold outside, Alabama is about to win another national title, you’ve got to spend all of next week with the family, and Gruden won’t text you back.

Thankfully, we’ve got just the thing to get you through the insufferably long period between when football ends and when football starts again. You may even remember it from years past. It probably made you happy once!

Are you ready for it? Here it comes...it’s...BASKETBALL!

Yes, the SEC’s other revenue generator, a sport which some schools purportedly care about, is back again, and we’re here to break it down for you.

As we get into conference play, we’ll look at the week’s results in detail and tell you who had the best, the worst, and the most middling results of the week. To catch you up on everything that’s happened so far, though, let’s start with quick snapshots of all 14 SEC teams and highlight some key developments through the regular season’s first third.

You want 2,000 words of basketball coverage?

It’s a Festivus miracle!

Kentucky Wildcats

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Kentucky
Oh, look, it’s a stud freshman in Lexington...
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 4
  • Current record: 9-1
  • Best win: UNC - KenPom #6
  • Worst loss: UCLA - KenPom #9

RTT Outlook: In the run up to the SEC Championship Game (before Alabama gave a ho-hum performance and still won by 38 points), Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! asked whether Saban and Alabama have destroyed the conference by being so good for so long.

Could you make the same argument about Kentucky basketball under Cal? This is his 8th season at UK. In his 7 completed seasons, 5 of which came with 14 teams, the league has averaged 3.9 NCAA tournament bids with only 3 in 2016, 2014, and 2013. In the 7 years before that, all as a 12 team conference, the league averaged 5.3 bids.

UK will keep doing what they do. They are currently favored in every league game per Sagarin, so look for this year’s hotshot freshmen (Malik Monk just dropped 47 on UNC and De’Aaron is averaging 16 points, 5 boards, and 7 assists...) to lead the way as UK runs roughshod over the conference once again on their way to a high seed in the tourney.

Florida Gators

NCAA Basketball: Orange Bowl Basketball Classic-Charlotte at Florida
Every RTT basketball fan attended the game!
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 14
  • Current record: 8-3
  • Best win: Miami (FL) - KenPom #25
  • Worst loss: Florida State - KenPom #23

RTT Outlook: As long as Michael White is at Florida (and the Vols continue to struggle), Tennessee fans may look longingly at the Gators. And right now, there appears to be something to envy in Gainesville.

Florida has pretty much nailed the RPI game, playing 4 neutral games and 2 roadies (including one at North Florida?!) in the pre-SEC schedule. The Gators may also be good, as KP has them ranked 26th on offense and 5th on defense. That balance stretches to the individual level where 5 players average 9+ points a game. They get Kentucky, USCe, and Arkansas twice, so they’ll get a chance to prove that they’re the cream of the SEC’s 2nd tier. They seem like a safe bet to make the tournament.

South Carolina Gamecocks

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at South Florida
RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 32
  • Current record: 9-1
  • Best win: Michigan - KenPom #28
  • Worst loss: Seton Hall - KenPom #44

RTT Outlook: Last year, the Gamecocks started 15-0, went 11-7 in the SEC, and missed the NCAA tournament. In response to that outcome, it appears they changed...well, nothing. They’ve played a home-heavy schedule with no marquee wins, and the SEC schedule won’t help them out much this year (they get Florida twice, but UK/Arkansas/TAMU only once).

Especially without Sindarius Thornwell, who is currently suspended indefinitely, I’d be nervous if I were a Cocky fan. They might need 13 SEC wins to feel comfortable come Selection Sunday.

Texas A&M Aggies

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M vs Arizona
This guy just recovered another UT fumble, probably
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 35
  • Current record: 7-3
  • Best win: Virginia Tech - KenPom #36
  • Worst loss: USC - KenPom #39

RTT Outlook: The Virginia Tech win is nice (it’s the Hokies’ only loss to date), and they acquitted themselves well against UCLA and Arizona (though only in the last 10 minutes against the Wildcats). Other than that, the 6 non-conference wins are against teams with a forecasted RPI below 150 (5 of those below 200, and 4 below 250). Woof.

They’re kind of the anti-USCe here in that they get Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas twice, plus they draw West Virginia in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. There will be opportunities to keep themselves in the postseason conversation behind Tyler Davis (15 and 8 boards) and Admon Gilder (13, 5 boards, and 5 assists), but that non-conference schedule is going to be a significant hindrance if they end up on the bubble.

Arkansas Razorbacks

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Texas
Their numbers combined are still fewer points than they gave up to Auburn
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 43
  • Current record: 9-1
  • Best win: Houston - KenPom #52
  • Worst loss: Minnesota - KenPom #48

RTT Outlook: What do you suppose the patience level is for Mike Anderson at Arkansas? Now in his 6th season with the Pig Sooie’s, he’s got 1 NCAA tournament appearance and 1 NCAA tournament win. That’s a problem, right? From afar, I get some serious “we were good in the ‘90s and are having a hard time letting that go” vibes. Thankfully, I don’t know any other fan bases like that...

After making the tournament in 2015 and falling to .500 last year, can the Razorbacks return to the tourney? Lunardi currently has them as the 2nd team out, so they find themselves exceedingly bubblicious at the moment. Dusty Hannahs leads the Hogs with 16 a game, but Moses Kingsley has regressed a bit in his senior year. They’ll need those two to lead the way if they’re going to load up on conference wins and hear their name on Selection Sunday.

Georgia Bulldogs

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana-Lafayette at Georgia
He looks like he just saw a replay of the Dobbs Nail Boot.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 62
  • Current record: 7-3
  • Best win: George Washington - KenPom #122
  • Worst loss: Marquette - KenPom #38

RTT Outlook: And thus begins the nameless rabble of SEC teams that can be summed up in one emoticon: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Georgia ain’t played nobody, Georgia ain’t beat nobody, and thus I don’t really know what to think. I suppose they could play themselves into the fringes of consideration with home and homes with Kentucky, Florida, and South Carolina? More realistically, this team has NIT written all over it.

Vanderbilt Commodores

NCAA Basketball: Chattanooga at Vanderbilt
Just saw the returns on his dad’s hedge fund!
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 80
  • Current record: 6-5
  • Best win: Chattanooga - KenPom #72
  • Worst loss: Bucknell - KenPom #126

RTT Outlook: If not for Luke Kornet’s late-game heroics against Chattanooga, the Dores would have a losing record right now. And they still play on the road against Dayton before SEC play starts. Oops.

I was probably a bit optimistic about my other team, thinking that Bryce Drew could take Luke Kornet and some nice pieces (Matthew Fisher-Davis and Jeff Roberson) and have them on the verge of a tournament berth. Turns out that in the SEC, unless you’re Kentucky, losing two players to the NBA makes it more likely you’ll be on the verge of .500 than ready to compete. The SEC schedule does them no favors as they get Kentucky, Florida, A&M, and Arkansas twice. The NIT would be a success for this bunch.

Tennessee Volunteers

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga vs Tennessee
MRW Tennessee plays a good team close but doesn’t win
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 81
  • Current record: 6-5
  • Best win: Georgia Tech - KenPom #117
  • Worst loss: Chattanooga - KenPom #72

RTT Outlook: Chances are if you’ve followed any basketball this year, it’s been the Vols, so I won’t rehash everything. Props to Rick Barnes for scheduling the big boys, but UT is 0-fer in top 100 games and has wins over Georgia Tech and the dregs of Division 1.

The SEC slate gets off to a rough start and includes UK and USCe twice, but the potential is there for the Vols to make a run at .500 and avoid Day 1 of the SEC Tournament.

Alabama Crimson Tide

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Alabama
A football title game rematch/preview? Except here, Clemson won.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 83
  • Current record: 5-5
  • Best win: Ball State - KenPom #172
  • Worst loss: Texas - KenPom #79

RTT Outlook: At first glance, this profile looks a lot like Tennessee’s, though the top end of the schedule has not been quite as fierce (both teams played Oregon, but UT played 3 teams better per KenPom while Oregon is Alabama’s toughest opponent to date).

The SEC slate is about as light as it can be (home and home with Auburn, MSU, Mizzou, LSU, and Georgia), but there’s nothing to see here. A repeat of last year’s 18 wins and first round NIT exit would be a tremendous success.

Ole Miss Rebels

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Virginia Tech
I had to search hard for an Ole Miss picture. That probably means something.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 95
  • Current record: 7-3
  • Best win: Memphis - KenPom #84
  • Worst loss: MTSU - KenPom #60

RTT Outlook: Can you believe this is Andy Kennedy’s 11th season at Ole Miss? Other than two...memorable...years with Marshall Henderson, can you remember anything about his tenure?

That seems like an apt metaphor for this team. Like the rest of the league, they’ve largely missed on their opportunities for meaningful wins. And there won’t be many opportunities for marquee wins as they only get South Carolina twice from the league’s top 5. 20 wins did not get them in the NIT last year, and I’m not sure a) they can get to 20 wins this year, or b) that they’d deserve an NIT bid if they did.

LSU Tigers

NCAA Basketball: Charleston at Louisiana State
Les Miles: fired. This guy: still employed.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 96
  • Current record: 7-2
  • Best win: Houston - KenPom #52
  • Worst loss: VCU- KenPom #60

RTT Outlook: Speaking of confusing coaches, what up, Johnny Jones?! He somehow gets to run it back after ruining Ben Simmons’ lone season of college basketball (at least Simmons escaped and gets to...oh, oh no...The Process has him now).

Anywho...they’ve gone 6-0 in Baton Rouge, 1-2 in the Bahamas, and that’s it so far. Way to challenge yourself, guys! Did I mention there’s a nameless rabble of teams in this tier? I’ve got no analysis to offer you. This feels like an 8-10 team in the SEC. Maybe they’ll go to the NIT, maybe they won’t. Cool. Next.

Auburn Tigers

NCAA Basketball: Coastal Carolina at Auburn
“Can you believe they called it a ‘barbecue’ when it was a cookout?”
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 99
  • Current record: 8-2
  • Best win: Texas Tech - KenPom #29
  • Worst loss: Boston College - KenPom #209

RTT Outlook: I know the “Power 5” doesn’t exist in basketball, but if it did, Boston College would be the 2nd worst team in it. That loss will sting, Bruce.

It’s a quietly important week for this batch of Tigers with opportunities for “name” wins against middling Oklahoma and UConn teams away from home. The SEC slate is easy, and Sagarin is relatively optimistic about their chances. Could they sneak out 20 wins? Maybe. Would it have them in serious NCAA consideration? Probably not. But things appear to be pointed in the right direction on The Plains.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Southern Mississippi
SEC BASKETBALL! FEEL THE EXCITEMENT!
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 137
  • Current record: 6-3
  • Best win: Boise State - KenPom #91
  • Worst loss: Lehigh - KenPom #100

RTT Outlook: You want to talk about ain’t played nobody...the Starkville Bulldogs ain’t played NOBODY.

But there’s a reason for that: their roster consists of 9 freshmen, 4 sophomores, 1 junior, and 1 senior. And the junior doesn’t even play. That’s bonkers, though the hope here will be that Howland can develop the 9th ranked recruiting class consisting of six 4* players over time. The conference schedule isn’t bad, but this crew is a year or two away. Keep an eye out, though.

Missouri Tigers

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Missouri
“I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missourah.”
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • KenPom ranking: 168
  • Current record: 5-5
  • Best win: Western Kentucky - KenPom #220
  • Worst loss: Eastern Illinois - KenPom #222

RTT Outlook: They almost clipped Xavier in the season’s second game. They probably should’ve just stopped there, because I’m not sure what hope there is for this season or what their plan is for the future. Sorry, Other Other Tigers.