We start a new weekly feature for GatorSports.com today where staff writer Pat Dooley will take a look at some of the things that stand out about SEC basketball. It will appear online every Thursday.
* Remember less than a year ago when Missouri came to town and the great debate was whether or not the Tigers were the worst team we had seen in the O-Dome in the last 20 years? That was Feb. 2 and Mizzou lost to Florida 93-54 with Chris Chiozza recording a triple-double. It’s a different story now, as the Tigers prepare to play host to Florida on Saturday. They won at South Carolina on Wednesday night to break a 32-game road SEC losing streak and looked the part of an NCAA team with a lot of weapons. Kassius Robertson looks like a difference maker for a team that was in need of a playmaker. It should be a heck of an early season game Saturday.
* On the other hand, I give you South Carolina, which looks like it is going to drive Frank Martin crazy this year. We knew that losing three starters was going to make things difficult, but if I had to make a bet I’d say USC is the worst team in the conference. LSU was picked last in the preseason poll, but I like a lot about the Tigers, especially after watching Duop Reath go for 24 points and 11 rebounds against Kentucky. I think Kentucky is going to have a lot of games like its first two in the conference this year in that the ‘Cats don’t play defense well enough to blow many teams out (sorry, Louisville) but they have so much young talent they overwhelm you with big plays late.
* Really, because this is such a young league, it doesn’t appear that anybody is playing great defense so it’s not just a Florida problem. Of the 14 teams in the SEC, 11 are averaging 76.3 points a game. I know that PPG tends to come down during conference play, but last year only five teams averaged that much for the season. There were some great defensive teams a year ago and two of them faced off in the Elite Eight. At least it should be more entertaining this year.
* The consensus is that the SEC is better and the reason it is better is that it has better players and the proof was in the non-conference results that allowed the SEC to be second in RPI. Just don’t get too carried away with those early rankings, because it also feels like this league is so balanced you could end up with a lot of teams on the bubble because of overall records. Still, the SEC is not short on receiving love right now. KenPom has nine SEC teams in the top 60 in the country, one more than RPI. KenPom also has Florida at 29th while RPI has UF at 63. That wide range is one reason college basketball wanted to be more inclusive of other measurements than RPI starting this year.