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© C. Morgan Engel | USATSI[/caption]
The College Basketball season is another week old, and the SEC consistently provides the sport with several talented players and teams. Here are the major storylines from the previous week of college basketball from the conference.
1. Time to Stop Believing in Kentucky This Year?
This is now a completely fair question to ask. After losing their third straight game for the first time in the John Calipari Era the Wildcats are now just 6-6 in SEC play and seventh place in the conference.
With their 17-8 overall record, UK is just 3-4 losses away from missing the tournament...and there is still six games left to play before the SEC tournament. After the Wildcats worst week of the season, it seems like many in the bluegrass state are giving up on Calipari's team and rightfully so.
However, I don't think its time to give up on these young men yet. Instead, fans expectations need to be adjusted now. Simply put, this team doesn't look like a national championship squad and that's OK. But they can still make an entertaining run and get to the second weekend of the Big Dance.
It would usually be the time to give up on this team in other seasons, but this year is perfect for UK to endure this terrible season. Don't believe me? Exhibit A:
Now, Exhibit B:
Feel better now? Look, college basketball is insane this year. Every team has huge flaws that you could drive a semi-truck through. While that includes Kentucky, it also includes every team projected to be in the Wildcats' bracket.
Hang in there, and keep giving this team a chance. Eight losses before Valentines Day is what it is. But its just eight losses to a team that is still incredibly talented. Yes, this team is way too young and they can't shoot the basketball, but until UK gets its 11th or 12th loss it's just not time to give up yet.
But wow Kentucky does look terrible right now.
2. Texas A&M is Officially Back
After a tidal wave of injuries and suspensions depleted the Aggies in January, many declared them dead in the water. However, they have now reeled off four straight conference victories and possess the same conference and regular season record as UK does.
This week was an absolute statement to the rest of the conference. After going on the road and beating Auburn then smashing UK the very next game, the Aggies have proved that when healthy they are possibly the best team in the SEC.
While four of their last six games come on the road, they all come against teams they are better than. The chance that Texas A&M finishes their season by winning their last ten games is actually pretty high.
Coach Billy Kennedy has the Aggies back on the track, and with star Robert Williams leading the charge Texas A&M can run a team out of the gym in a hurry like they did to Kentucky.
3. Florida Keeps Pace
Is there any team in the SEC more perplexing than the Florida Gators? One moment they look like a team that can win it all, and the next moment the Gators look like a team that should miss the Big Dance.
But don't sleep on this team. They very quietly took care of business this week with two easy victories over LSU and South Carolina. Now the Gators sit at third place in the conference behind Tennessee and Auburn despite having the same regular season record as UK and Texas A&M.
Florida will be the most interesting team to watch the last three weeks of the regular season as their last six conference games are highlighted by Kentucky, Auburn, and Tennessee. While they have all the offensive firepower in the world, their defense has been lacking.
However, when Coach Mike White motivates his team to play defense like they did against South Carolina the Gators become a very, very dangerous basketball team.
4. Auburn Gets All the Love.
With a 10-2 record in conference play and a 22-3 record on the season, the Auburn Tigers have so far been the class of the SEC, and Bruce Pearl should be in the conversation for coach of the year.
They were the highest SEC team ranked in the NCAA's projected bracket as they were the only team in the conference to receive at least a two seed. The Tigers are officially the toast of the SEC and rightfully so.
However, I'm still just not sure how good this team truly is. They have battled through a treacherous SEC schedule so far, but they played a weak non-conference schedule. While Kentucky is struggling right now and Auburn does get the Wildcats at home, this will be a very tough game for the Tigers to win.
Is it possible that UK drops four straight games under Coach Cal? Of course it is, but I don't think its very likely. The point is that I think Auburn's next game against the Wildcats will be the perfect opportunity for them to prove their overall talent.
But beware UK fans, the hype behind Bruce Pearl's team is very real right now.
5. The SEC Tournament will be CRAZY
I may sound like I know what I'm talking about and that I know exactly how this conference will be played out, but I honestly have no idea how the regular season will wrap up.
I honestly think that there are six different teams that can win the conference tournament, and I don't have a solid idea on just how good any of those teams truly are.
There are still so many questions to be answered: Can Texas A&M keep their streak going? Is Auburn actually for real? Will Kentucky finally turn things around? Can Collin Sexton keep carrying Alabama? Can Florida keep out-shooting teams?
If I had to make predictions now, I would pick Texas A&M to walk away with the SEC championship, but I don't feel confident with that pick. Why? Because here is a tweet that absolutely terrifies me:
Collin Sexton has some Kemba Walker in him. And if the Crimson Tide get into the big dance, I think they will cause havoc. If that doesn't scare you, then try this tweet on for size:
Yea.....I think we all forgot about a talented Missouri team possibly getting back the most talented player in all of college basketball. Gulp. March should be fun.