2007 SEC Basketball Preview
The SEC East was a beast last year as the Florida Gators swept to their second NCAA championship in a row. This year sees a power shift as the dominant Gators are tamed by the likes of Tennessee, Kentucky and perhaps even Vanderbilt or Georgia.
The Tennessee Volunteers, who lose only one starter from last season, feature one of the finest scorers in the conference—Chris Lofton. Lofton, a true NBA prospect, is the best go-to guy in the league.
The Kentucky Wildcats have some of the best guards around. Depth in the backcourt is assured with the likes of Joe Crawford, Ramel Bradley, Jodie Meeks and Derrick Jasper. Upfront, freshmen Patrick Patterson could become a major factor.
Look for the Georgia Bulldogs to field their most talented team in years. Junior guard Mike Mercer, who can play either side of the court, returns after an injury filled year. If he’s healthy these Dawgs could attend March Madness.
Although it may surprise some, the fact is that the Vanderbilt Commodores will most likely finish ahead of the Florida Gators. Backcourt man Shan Foster, one of the finest shooters in the league, leads a fine bunch of seniors.
The Florida Gators have the best coach in the conference—Billy Donovan. This season, Donovan will really be called upon to show his stuff as he tries to replace five of the best starters in the nation. The coach has managed to recruit some of the most talented frosh in the nation. If they play up to their potential, then look for Florida to surprise all and finish either second or third in the SEC East.
Finally, the South Carolina Gamecocks will rely on two transfers to transform their backcourt. Point guard Devan Downey and shooting guard Zam Frederick certainly have the talent and potential to make this club a contender. Still, the team’s three top scorers from last season are gone.
The SEC East looks to be tougher and stronger than the rival SEC West. Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia all possess the potential to go deep into the NCAA tournament. Vandy and the Gators could surprise everyone.
On paper, the West Division of the SEC appears to be weaker than the East. Still, the West offers some quality teams, including the Arkansas Razorbacks, Mississippi State Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide. The fact is that all six of these clubs could be post-season bound, although it’s likely that three will go to the NIT.
The Arkansas Razorbacks feature the best shot blocker in the conference with Steven Hill at center. New head coach John Pelphrey needs to instill discipline in a very talented team. If he can, this club can go deep into the NCAA brackets. If he can’t, then expect them to go to the NIT.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will be contenders as long as guard and dynamo Ronald Steele can recover from knee surgery, rediscovering his speed and moves. The Crimson also have three top-100 recruits joining them. The Razorbacks better watch out for this rising Tide.
Mississippi State will also be a tough team. Upfront, they have the fine scoring of Charles Rhodes, while the backcourt sports guard Jamont Gordon, who’s impossible to defend. Still, the Bulldogs lost two of their five top scorers from last season. It won’t be easy for this team, but if sound team chemistry can develop, they will be a force in the conference and maybe the tournament brackets.
The Auburn Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels and LSU Tigers will occupy the final three spots in the West. Of the three, Auburn looks to have the most potential for post-season play. The Auburn Tigers now have a veteran team that’s searching for consistency.
Coach Andy Kennedy, who enters his second year at the helm, leads the Mississippi Rebels. Kennedy has lost three key players and enters a major rebuilding year. New guys Christopher Warren and Zach Graham are fine prospects.
Finally, the LSU Tigers are a team rebuilding their frontcourt and offering a fine, talented and experienced backcourt. Guard Tasmin Mitchell is one of the most dynamic and versatile performers in the SEC. He can play inside and out. But how much can Mitchell accomplish with a thin frontcourt?
If nothing else, the SEC West will be extremely interesting this season and potentially volatile but yeild very interesting and challenging college basketball betting lines.
2007 SEC Basketball Predictions
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