It doesn't seem possible, but not a single SEC squad was among the Top 25 in either of last week's polls. Lurking just outside the ranks are Florida, LSU and South Carolina.
The SEC has a bunch of teams that are loaded with talent, depth and athleticism. Kentucky won the national championship in 1998, Florida knocked on the door in 2000 getting to the title game against Michigan State, then won it all two straight years.
Here's a look at some of college basketball's best teams in the SEC.
Coach Bill Donovan has been the king of the SEC the last few years, as well as the college basketball world, with back-to-back titles and has another powerhouse young team. The centerpiece is athletic 6-6 sophomore Nick Calathes (18 ppg, 6.4 apg) who leads the Gators in scoring and assists and is fine rebounder. The frontcourt has pair of sophomore big men in 6-8 Alex Tyus (12 ppg) and 6-9 Chandler Parsons.
The Gators love the up-tempo game (79 ppg) shooting over 49%, tops in the SEC. This young team hasn't been stellar on the road, however, a problem last season. They lost close games at Florida State and South Carolina, and two weeks ago got blown out at Tennessee.
Against South Carolina, Florida let a seven-point lead slip away in the final 2:27. They've been on a 3-1 run over the total the last few weeks with that uptempo attack.
The Volunteers have been streaky, even losing four home games. Gonzaga surprised them in overtime, which broke a 37-game home winning streak for Tennessee, the second longest such streak among Division I programs behind Notre Dame entering this season. Coach Bruce Pearl has a pair of juniors running the backcourt with 6-7 J.P. Prince and Bobby Maze, an up-tempo offense that is battling South Carolina for the top spot in scoring in the SEC.
It's the frontcourt that does much of the damage, topping the SEC in rebounding, led by 6-7 junior Tyler Smith (17 ppg, 6 rpg) and 6-9 junior Wayne Chism (13 ppg, 8.8 rpg). They are off a good week, ripping rival Florida, 79-63, and winning at Arkansas by a basket. They are not a stellar defensive team, giving up 74 ppg. They've given up 88 points or more four times (all losses).
South Carolina Gamecocks
The Gamecocks used to be a slow, defensive team, but not now under coach Darrin Horn. They are tops in the conference in three-point shooting. A pair of sparkplug guards lead the team in scoring in junior Devan Downey (20 ppg) and senior Zam Fredrick (16 ppg). Downey through in 33 against Florida last week, but it wasn't enough in a 97-93 defeat in Gainesville. South Carolina is stellar at home, but has a losing road mark.
The frontcourt is undersized with Dominique Archie and Mike Holmes, so defense can be a problem. South Carolina has already matched its SEC win total from a year ago. They had a 78-77 upset at Kentucky, but have road losses at Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. South Carolina is 4-2 ATS as a dog. Approaching road games at Alabama and Mississippi State will be a challenge.
A veteran Tiger squad is getting things done like in the old days when Big Baby Glen Davis was using his wide-body to clog the lane: defense and rebounding. LSU has a pair of rebounders up front in 6-11 senior Chris Johnson (8 rpg) and 6-7, 240-pound junior Tasmin Mitchell (15.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg), plus 6-4 senior guard Marcus Thornton and his 19.9 ppg.
The Tigers are tops in the SEC allowing 63 ppg, as well as in the top three in free throw shooting (72%). They were an 8-point dog and won 79-73 at Tennessee and playing well, all of which makes a January 91-61 loss at Utah even more perplexing. Games this week against Mississippi State and Ole Miss will test their defense.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are getting it done with defense, allowing 38% shooting by opponents, second best in the SEC, plus over 8 blocks per game is tops. 6-9 junior Jarvis Varnado (12 ppg, 9.6 rpg) is a rebounding machine and swats close to 5 shots per contest!
Skinny 6-7 Ravern Johnson (13 ppg) leads in scoring. All four of Mississippi State's starting guards reached double figures as the Bulldogs upset Kentucky, 66-57, last week, winning at Rupp Arena for the first time.
"It's a really big win," Johnson said. "Not too many people come into Rupp and beat Kentucky." Note that Mississippi State is still 2-3 SU/ATS as a dog. They are also on a 5-0 run under the total.