SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Week 18

With the regular season over, it’s time to take one final look at the teams heading into this week’s SEC Tournament

The regular season is in the books, but there is still a lot of basketball left to be played (for some teams).

The potential of great matchups in this year’s SEC Tournament is impressive. This season, we’ve seen Tennessee and Kentucky both beat up on the other in their home court, but now that everyone will be playing at a neutral site all outcomes are up in the air.

The first and second rounds will provide us with some intriguing matchups as well. Florida vs. Arkansas, Ole Miss vs. Alabama, and Georgia vs. Missouri all have the potential to be great games.

With the SEC Tournament starting Wednesday, here’s a look at the final Power Rankings of the regular season:

1] LSU (26-5, 16-2): With the regular season title in their grasp, the Tigers move on to the tournament riding high off of an absolute manhandling of Vanderbilt. That’s not surprising, since the Commodores didn't have a single SEC victory this season. LSU has a bye until the quarterfinals, where it will play either Florida or Arkansas. LSU’s bracket does not seem incredibly challenging, but who knows how the team will respond to coach Will Wade being suspended. Last week: 2

2] Kentucky (26-5, 15-3): Kentucky got things done Saturday, defeating Florida 66-57. The Wildcats will share the same bye as LSU, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and won’t see action until the quarterfinals. There, Kentucky will face off against either Alabama or Ole Miss, which is one of the best matchups in the second round. Kentucky should make quick work of either team, though, before a large contingency of Wildcat fans. Last week: 3

3] Tennessee (27-4, 15-3): Tennessee had its regular season end with a thud, losing at Auburn. That being said, Auburn is one of the hottest teams heading into the SEC Tournament, and was playing at home. Tennessee also has a bye until the quarterfinals, so it has plenty of time to rest and recuperate before facing Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, or Mississippi State. The Bulldogs could be a tough matchup, followed by round three with Kentucky in the semifinals. Last week: 1

4] Auburn (22-9, 11-7): Auburn ended the regular season on a roll. After getting routed by Kentucky, the Tigers won their last four games, including big wins over Mississippi State, Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and Tennessee. Auburn received a first-round bye, and will be playing the winner of the Missouri/Georgia game. If all goes according to plan, look for Auburn to be playing in the quarterfinals against South Carolina on Friday. Last week: 4

5] South Carolina (16-15, 11-7): After not faring well in non-conference play, the Gamecocks looked like a different team once SEC play began. The end result was a bye until the quarterfinals. In all likelihood, South Carolina will face Auburn on Friday, with Georgia or Missouri the other possibilities. Last week: 7

6] Mississippi State (22-9, 10-8): The Bulldogs ended the regular season with a win, beating Texas A&M, 92-81. Mississippi State has a first-round bye, and will face either Texas A&M again or Vanderbilt. With a rematch against the Aggies likely, it will be interesting to see how the teams adjust having played only five days earlier. Last week: 5

7] Ole Miss (20-11, 10-8): Ole Miss was also able to end the season with a victory, defeating Missouri on the road 73-68. Ole Miss has a bye in the first round, and will face off against a slumping Alabama team that lost six out of its last eight games. That being said, Alabama routed the Rebels earlier in the season 74-53, so this could be a chance for some payback. Last week: 6

8] Arkansas (17-14, 8-10): Arkansas picked up a solid home win against a desperate Alabama team Saturday. However, the Razorbacks have one of the toughest brackets in the tournament, playing Florida in the second round, then facing against LSU should they beat the Gators. Lasting more than a round seems unlikely. Last week: 9

9] Florida (17-14, 9-9): Florida lost its last game of the regular season against Kentucky. No surprises there. After a slow start, Florida slowly gathered momentum the entire season, but faltered lately, losing its last three games. Florida starts of the second round against Arkansas, in one of the more intriguing tournament matchups. Last week: 8

10] Alabama (17-14, 8-10): Whatever momentum Alabama had early in SEC play is now completely gone. Alabama lost six out of its last eight games, with its only wins being over Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Alabama skips the first round, then faces off against Ole Miss on Thursday. While the Crimson Tide handled the Rebels with ease earlier in the season, Alabama has been playing with incredibly low energy, and could very well lose not only a game, but its last chance at an NCAA Tournament spot. Last week: 10

11] Texas A&M (13-17, 6-12): After losing to Mississippi State on Saturday, the Aggies regroup for their first-round matchup against Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Assuming the Aggies defeat the Commodores, they'll have to play Mississippi State in an interesting rematch. The neutral site could potentially pay off for the Aggies. Last week: 11

12] Missouri (14-16, 5-13): In the better game of the first round, Missouri squares off against Georgia. The Tigers humiliated the Bulldogs just last Wednesday, 64-39 on Georgia’s home court. It'll be interesting to see how both teams handle the rematch. Last week: 12

13] Georgia (11-20, 2-16): After a big win at Florida on March 2, Georgia lost its last two games against Missouri and South Carolina. The soul-crushing loss at home to Missouri should have Georgia out seeking revenge in the first round. The winner has to face a red-hot Auburn team in the second round. Last week: 13

14] Vanderbilt (9-22, 0-18): The Commodores finished the regular season with a perfect 0-18 in SEC play, losing to LSU, 80-59. Vanderbilt will be playing against Texas A&M in the first round, which it lost to 64-57 on March 2. All signs point to this being the last game of the season for Vanderbilt, but a win would at least put a smile on the Commodores’ faces. Last week: 14

Thank you to everyone who read this season’s SEC Power Rankings. It has been an incredible season of basketball, and it looks to be an excellent SEC Tournament, as well as a great NCAA Tournament for the SEC.