A panel of select members of the SEC and national media released their preseason SEC basketball standings today. Alabama was picked to finish 3rd in the SEC West. Missisippi State was picked to win the division with Ole Miss claiming the second spot. Arkansas, LSU and Auburn claimed spots 4-6 in that order.
In the East, Florida was picked to win the division followed by Kentucky. In a bit of a surprise, Georgia was picked to finish third with Tennessee, Vanderbilt and South Carolina behind them.
I have to admit I'm surprised Georgia was picked as high as 3rd place. There's no doubt Georgia will be improved from last seasons' 5-11 finish, but 3rd seems high. Tennessee has some off-court worries with the NCAA sniffing around, but their talent is as good as anyone in the league including Kentucky. Vanderbilt is a well-coached veteran team that knows how to win. Even South Carolina's overall talent level is higher than it's been in years. One thing is for certain, the East is going to be fun to watch this season.
In the West, I think Alabama at 3rd is about right. It's hard to justify picking them higher with the lack of experience at point guard, lack of depth in the paint, etc. In their favor, the West should once again be wide open. With the exception of Auburn, every team in the West has held steady or improved. There still probably won't be more than one team that makes the NCAA tournament from the division, but it does seem to be moving in the right direction.
My final preseason SEC predictions.
6. South Carolina
1. Ole Miss
2. Mississippi State