The SEC basketball contenders this season include a few teams that haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in a few years. While the blueblood Kentucky Wildcats are having a down year so far, other teams are taking claim of the conference. Conference play begins this week, and this conference is primed to have at least two teams in the big dance come March 2021.
Teams like Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee are showing the country that other programs outside of Kentucky can rule the conference. The Bulldogs, Tigers, and Vols are all undefeated so far this season. With conference games upcoming, SEC basketball fans should be in for a fun ride until March.
SEC Basketball Contenders
East Division Teams
The Bulldogs are a scary good 7-0 team currently. Averaging 81.1 points per game, the Dawgs are dominating on both ends of the floor. Toumani Camara is leading the team with 14.8 points per game and is shooting 52.9 percent from the floor. Georgia has to face Missouri, Florida, and Tennessee just one time this season. The Dawgs open conference play against the 5-3 Mississippi State Bulldogs on Wednesday.
The Tigers are ranked No. 14 in the country. Mizzou has wins over Illinois and Oregon of top 25 teams. Opening conference play against the Tennessee Volunteers provides Missouri with a chance to knock off another unbeaten from the ranks. Xavier Pinson leads the Tigers with 14.3 points per game on 38.4 percent shooting from the floor.
Mizzou is great offensively but has to attack better on defense to remain a contender in the SEC. Their quest for an SEC Championship starts on Wednesday in Columbia.
The Volunteers have been a dominant team all season long up to this point. Currently sitting at 6-0 and ranked No. 8 in the country, Tennessee has been a surprise. They average 80 points per game and only allow 52. While the SEC provides tougher competition, Rick Barnes’ team could be the favorite to win the conference now with Kentucky at 1-6.
SEC West Contenders
Will Wade has the Tigers in a comfortable position right now. Despite having to cancel a few games due to COVID-19 concerns, LSU has the right players to make a run in the conference. Freshman guard Cameron Thomas leads the team with 22.8 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting. One area of concern for LSU is the defense in the second half of games. The Tigers allow teams to come from behind and make it a close score, but the offense bails them out.
Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies have also been a surprise this season at 5-1. Though they open conference play at LSU, Texas A&M’s offense could spark a run in the conference. Emmanuel Miller leads the way averaging 18 points per game on 61 percent shooting. Their conference slate draws Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, and Arkansas at home in College Station. Despite limited fan attendance due to the pandemic, the Aggies couldn’t ask for a better home slate in conference play.
If the Aggies are going to be a true contender down the stretch, they have to win the meaningful home games against the upper echelon teams in the conference.
The Razorbacks are 8-0 and currently unranked. That is thanks in part to their non-conference schedule that includes no Power Five teams. All seven of the non-conference opponents were mid-major programs. While the Razorbacks are undefeated, Arkansas is shooting just 46 percent from the floor as a team. The other SEC teams could take advantage of that on defense when the Razorbacks face them.
There is no postseason for Auburn this year. Despite that, Bruce Pearl’s team continues to play well after a slow start. Averaging 75 points per game, the Tigers enter SEC play with a 6-2 record. Justin Powell has been a dominant factor on offense averaging 13.9 points per game on 49 percent shooting.
Add Allen Flanigan and Jaylin Williams into the mix and this year’s Auburn team can turn into a powerhouse team within the conference. The Tigers draw Missouri, Tennessee, and Georgia at home inside Auburn Arena before the season’s end. So far, the Tigers are 4-0 at home this season.
The SEC basketball contenders are proving to take over the college basketball landscape. With SEC play beginning this week, there are a multitude of teams that are true contenders right now. But when conference games start, this list could be trimmed down before it’s all said and done. Even with the blueblood team in a downward spiral, plenty of other programs are starting to rise up to claim the throne in one of college basketball’s best conferences.
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