The SEC sent six teams to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament a season ago. Out of the six that represented the conference, one team reached the Elite Eight: Arkansas.
Now, the expectations have grown and even more, teams are expected to be better this season. Programs like South Carolina, LSU, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi State all made coaching changes. Not to mention, each program utilized the transfer portal to its advantage.
Other programs like Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Alabama were able to bring in top-tier recruiting classes that provide promise for their future this season. Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Missouri will also be looking to make a splash this season.
Here’s how Roll Tide Wire projects the SEC basketball standings will look by the end of the 2022-2023 season.
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Last season, Georgia had a completely different roster and coaching staff. They finished the season with a 6-26 record and 1-17 in conference play. Despite all that, there is still a lot of hope for new head coach Mike White’s program. The Bulldogs are returning key pieces like Kario Oquendo and Braelen Bridges. Not to mention, they are bringing in multiple transfers in Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, Jusaun Holt, Frank Anselem, and Madrez McBride. It is unclear if it will make that much of a difference in such a tough conference, but we will see. The Bulldogs are at No. 14 in my rankings at this time.
South Carolina Gamecocks
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South Carolina finished last season with a 19-13 record and a 9-9 record in conference play. They were led by the likes of Jermaine Couisnard and Keyshawn Bryant both of which are not on the team this season. Despite losing two key pieces, head coach Lamont Paris has a lot of buzz surrounding the Gamecocks’ basketball program. Incoming freshman G.G. Jackson was regarded as a 2023 five-star before deciding to re-classify and enroll early at South Carolina. I just don’t know if there are enough pieces around him to make that big of a difference. For that reason, I have the Gamecocks at No. 13.
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Vanderbilt is coming off of a 19-17 season with a 7-11 record in conference play. The Commodores were led last season by Scotty Pippen Jr. who has since departed for the NBA. He seemed the be the heart and soul of the team a season ago. Despite losing Pippen Jr. and a handful of seniors, the Commodores are still hopeful for a quick turnaround. The team will be led by the likes of Quentin Milora-Brown, Liam Robbins, and Myles Stute. Jerry Stackhouse’s squad has promise, but I don’t know if it will be enough in a top-heavy Southeastern Conference this season. For now, I have the Commodores finishing at No. 12.
Ole Miss Rebels
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Ole Miss is coming off of a disappointing 13-19 record last season while being 4-14 in conference play. The Rebels will lose the leader from a season ago in Jarkel Joyner. However, the Rebels have added several transfers along with a good core of returning players. Transfers Jayveous McKinnis, Myles Burns, and Theo Akwuba are all expected to make a huge difference in the frontcourt. It is hard to say whether the backcourt will be consistent enough to finish high in the conference. For that reason, I have the Rebels at No. 11.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
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The Bulldogs were a tough team to beat last season with their stout frontcourt that was led by Garrison Brooks and Tolu Smith. Now, Brooks is gone and head coach Chris Jans will look to lean on Smith more than ever. Not to mention, the team lost leading scorer Iverson Molinar to the NBA. The Bulldogs will still return key contributors like Shakeel Moore, Cameron Matthews, and D.J. Jeffries. They will likely be better this season, but it may not be enough to make that much of a difference. The Bulldogs come in at No. 10.
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Florida just missed making the NCAA Tournament a season ago. After losing in the NIT, they decided to part ways with head coach Mike White. Now, the Gators have a new man in town and that is former San Francisco head coach Todd Golden. Florida returns starters Kowacie Reeves, Colin Castleton, and Myreon Jones. The coaching staff was also able to bolster the roster with transfers Will Richard, Alex Fudge, Kyle Lofton, and Trey Bonham. Each of the four will play huge roles in the Gators’ backcourt this season. The Gators have talent but for now, I have them finishing at No. 9 going into the season.
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LSU had its share of ups and downs last season with the school investigation regarding former head coach Will Wade and the lack of team chemistry that plagued the team. Now, that time has passed and new head coach Matt McMahon has taken the reigns in Baton Rouge. Despite losing virtually the whole team to the transfer portal, McMahon still found a way to build his roster through the use of the transfer portal. He was able to bring in key transfers like Cam Hayes, Trae Hannibal, and Kendal Coleman. It is also worth noting that Illinois transfer Adam Miller will be back in action this season after suffering a season-ending injury in 2021. The Tigers have an abundance of talent. The team lands at No. 8 at this time.
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Missouri got rid of head coach Cuonzo Martin in the off-season and hired Cleveland State head coach Dennis Gates. The Tigers had a 12-21 record a season ago while going 5-13 in conference play. Despite their record, the Tigers were still a very competitive team that was led by leading-scorer Kobe Brown. He will return while many others decided to enter the transfer portal. Gates went out and landed 10 transfers. It may take a minute to develop the right chemistry for Gates’ squad, but the Tigers will find their groove sooner rather than later. I have Missouri finishing at No. 7.
Texas A&M Aggies
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Texas A&M didn’t get off to the start they would have liked last season, but they closed the season on a very good note. Head coach Buzz Williams had his team playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm toward the end of the season. The Aggies finished the season with a 27-13 record while being 9-9 in conference play. The team will return key players like Henry Coleman III, Tyrece Radford, Wade Taylor IV, and Manny Obeseki. The coaching staff was able to land transfers Julius Marble, Andersson Garcia, and Dexter Dennis. The team has a lot of depth along with the potential to be good this season. The Aggies land at No. 6 for right now.
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Auburn is coming off of one of the best seasons in program history. The Tigers were led by Jabari Smith Jr. and Walker Kessler. Each of which are in the NBA now. Bruce Pearl’s squad has several key players returning, but it will likely be tough to navigate early in the season without Kessler and Smith Jr. The Tigers did try to fill the void by landing Johni Broome out of the transfer portal as well as signing a top-10 recruiting class. I have the Tigers finishing at No. 5.
Alabama Crimson Tide
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Last season, Alabama had a lot of expectations after winning the SEC Championship in 2020. However, the Crimson Tide finished the season with a 19-14 record while going 9-9 in conference play. In the off-season, head coach Nate Oats and his staff were able to bring in a top-10 recruiting class while also landing three key transfers in Mark Sears, Nick Pringle, and Dominick Welch. The team also returns their leaders from a season ago in Jahvon Quinerly and Darius Miles. There is a lot of buzz surrounding the program this season. I have the Tide finishing at No. 4.
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Kentucky was able to finish last season with a 28-8 record while going 14-4 in conference play. Despite several injuries in the starting rotation, head coach John Calipari was able to lead his team to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Despite losing several players to the draft, the Wildcats are still set to be one of the best programs in the country. The team will return their leaders in Sahvir Wheeler and Oscar Tshiebwe. Both are poised to help the Wildcats be even better than a season ago. Freshman Kason Wallace and transfer Antonio Reeves are also expected to make a significant difference in the backcourt. I have the Wildcats finishing at No. 3.
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Arkansas had a good finish to last season as the Razorbacks were able to reach the Elite Eight. Eric Musselman’s squad finished the season with a 27-9 record while going 13-5 in conference play. Although the team saw several of their key players like JD Notae, Jaylin Williams, and Au’Diese Toney depart for the NBA, the team still has a great nucleus of players on the roster. Some of the key players that transferred into the program are Ricky Council IV, Jalen Graham, and Trevon Brazile. Not to mention, the Razorbacks brought in the top recruiting class in the country in 2022. There is a lot of promise on this team and for that reason, I have the Razorbacks finishing at No. 2.
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Tennessee may have lost their leading scorer (Kennedy Chandler) from a season ago. However, they are expected by many to be even better this season. Head coach Rick Barnes was able to bring back key players like Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Ziegler, and Josiah Jordan-James. Each of these will be key to the Volunteers’ success this season. It was reported that Tennessee was able to knock off Gonzaga by 19 points in an exhibition game. If that is any indication at all, it is that the Volunteers are back. For that reason, I have the Volunteers sitting atop my rankings at the season’s end.