I intend to write this without mentioning my Ole Miss Rebels who just dominated #10 ranked Missouri, so here I go. The SEC dominates the NCAA in football and baseball but so far in the 2012-2013 basketball season, it has been a struggle for the conference to say the least.
SEC basketball has never been the best as a whole but it usually does not struggle this bad as a whole either. To the conference’s defense, the SEC still is home to the reigning NCAA Champions and also produced the most draft picks in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Still, nobody expected this many SEC conference teams to get knocked around like it has during the first part of the season.
First of all, I do understand basketball. I understand that the one and done rule can be a real hardship. With the likes of the super talent from Kentucky and Bradley Beale of Florida going 1,2,3 in the draft, it is never easy to build a team when you continue to lose your best players. Nevertheless, the same problem goes for every team in the country.
One of the problems lies in the ugly non conference losses that have plagued the league. The SEC teams who have made a habit of attracting top recruits who go one and done are always left with an unexperienced group of players. Anybody that knows anything about about basketball knows that experience and chemistry are everything and that is where the struggling SEC teams are at the disadvantage. The smaller conference schools come in with two or more seniors and the team entire team has been playing together for years. Even though they may not play professional basketball, they have developed the chemistry of a quality basketball team and a lot of times, these early non conference games can be a trap for bigger schools who tend to have to restart each year.
Struggles in the SEC have been all around though. Not only have SEC schools lost the majority of their games against other major-conference teams, they’ve struggled against teams smaller conferences who have a hard time making it into the Big Dance in March.
Auburn lost to Winthrop. Mississippi State fell to Alabama A&M. Texas A&M couldn’t handle Southern. Youngstown State defeated Georgia. Mercer beat Alabama.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan talked about this very exact problem, he does not believe it is fair to judge a conference based on November and December performance.
“I never really agreed with that.” Donovan said. “I think teams get better. I think one thing that has happened in our league is a lot of teams in our league have lost a lot of people. Kentucky lost a lot. Vanderbilt’s lost a lot. Mississippi State has got a new coach. South Carolina has got a new coach. There has been a lot of turnover in personnel from key guys.”
The SEC lost 12 players to the NBA draft last year and that has hurt significantly with teams trying to gel early on.
South Carolina’s new coach, Frank Martin also had a pretty avid opinion on judging the league mid way through the season.
“We make it out like the SEC is the only league in the country that’s losing non-conference games,” Martin said. “It’s happening all over the country. With the one-and-done rule in college basketball, there is more parity in college basketball than ever before. And you have to take into account that teams can get better. For us to be talking about this on Jan. 7 is a waste of time.”
Nevertheless, losing players or not, the SEC has looked rough this year and one can only hope that at least four teams can at least make the NCAA tournament. As of today, there are only three teams in the BPI top 50, Florida at #4, Ole Miss at #17 (I am sorry I just could not help myself) and Missouri at #27. Also, the SEC is ranked 9th in the country in conference RPI.( RPI is a ranking of strength of schedule)
Hopefully, by March the SEC will have more relevant teams and someone can make a run in the tournament. As of now, it could be anybody and there is no clear cut power team. One positive is that this could make for a very interesting conference tournament with a NCAA tournament bid on the line it will be anybody’s ticket to grab.
As of 1/13/12
|15||Ohio St||Big Ten|
|18||Notre Dame||Big East|
|22||Oklahoma St||Big 12|
|24||San Diego St||MWC|
|30||Michigan St||Big Ten|