There is one word to sum up this conference – Brutal. I’m not convinced that any team here is worth a damn. It wouldn’t be an upset in my mind if this group’s tournament hopes were over by the end of the first weekend.
Best Team – LSU. I am far from in love with the Tigers, but they are the best of the bunch. Senior Marcus Thornton is a nice player, but I don’t see a lot on their schedule that proves that they are competitive at the highest level. I’m a fan of coach Trent Johnson, though.
Worst Tournament Team – Florida. They are lousy on the road, they haven’t beaten anyone of real significance, and they lost to Georgia. Needless to say, I am not optimistic.
True Contenders – None among this bunch of ‘winners’.
Team That Bugs Me – Bruce Pearl is a fun guy and all, but Tennessee gets way too much attention. They have been very good in the past, but now they are getting by on a name and a flamboyant reputation. They don’t seem to stand up when it really matters.
Potential to Rise Up – Again, no one. I don’t believe that any of these teams are better than they look.
Likely to Disappoint – Take your pick. I’ll go with South Carolina because they are the one I haven’t picked on yet. They have one win against an RPI top 50 team – Florida – and they were just 49th at the time. There is no reason to expect this team to do anything.
Best Player – Marcus Thornton, LSU. Thornton doesn’t have a mid-level game – he either needs to get to the basket or stay outside. Still, he’s a scoring machine.
Player to Watch – Nick Calathes, Florida. I’m not sure that Calathes took the step forward that he was expected to this year, but the sophomore still has an impressive stat line, and he could do some damage when it matters.
Overrated Player – Wayne Chism, Tennessee. Chism should have really stepped forward in his third year. His numbers are better, but not as good as they should be, and he peaked before the end of the year.