Alabama Basketball: Who is and who isn’t the SEC’s best team

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

The excitement about Alabama Basketball is warranted. Nate Oats has built a roster with talent that goes deep into his bench. An argument could be made that Alabama is the SEC’s best team. If the Tide isn’t the SEC’s No. 1 yet, it can certainly reach that status.

Ten of the SEC’s 14 teams have played their first SEC game. Two of the SEC’s road teams won on Wednesday night. It is not surprising the two were the Tennessee Vols and Alabama Basketball. That three more SEC road teams lost is par for the course in the SEC.

Approaching the one-third mark of the 2022-23 season, the Crimson Tide (11-2, 1-0) and the Vols (11-2, 1-0) are the SEC’s best teams. Alabama dispensed with Mississippi State 78-67, while Tennessee outlasted the Ole Miss Rebels, 63-59.

After the Wednesday games, the NCAA NET rankings had the Vols at No. 3 and the Crimson Tide at No. 7.

It is early to make sure predictions of which SEC teams can challenge Tennessee and Alabama. There are however clear indications of how good or how bad the rest of the SEC is likely to be.

Arkansas (11-2, 0-1) lost to LSU in Baton Rouge Wednesday night. The Razorbacks are still scrambling to recover from a season-ending injury to Trevon Brazile. Nick Smith Jr. is also out for Eric Musselman but will return at some point. When the Hogs get Smith back, they can compete with any team in the SEC.

There is a quartet of SEC teams having the best chance to break into the league’s top tier. All of them, even Kentucky (8-4, 0-1) can win big games. The Cats are the biggest unknown in the league. They were dominated by Missouri on Wednesday night, 89-75 and many in the Big Blue Nation are calling for Calipari’s ousting. A calmer response is surely Kentucky will improve significantly over the next month.

The three other teams with legitimate top-tier possibilities are Auburn (11-2, 1-0), LSU (12-1, 1-0) and Missouri (12-1, 1-0). None of the three have rosters as strong as Alabama and Tennessee. But all three have more than enough talent to contend and win some big games.

Did Alabama Basketball expose the Bulldogs?

Conventional wisdom is Mississippi State should be included in the, closest to the top-tier group, with potential as good or greater than Auburn, LSU and Missouri. Perhaps so, but Nate Oats gave the rest of the SEC the game plan to beat the Bulldogs. Other SEC teams, even without Bama’s talent and depth, should be able to cause State problems.

What is left are six SEC teams that appear headed toward disappointing seasons. Writing off Ole Miss (8-5, 0-1), Texas A&M (7-5, 0-0) and Florida (7-6, 0-1) would be premature. The problem for all three is they have no quality wins. Plus the Rebels and the Aggies have at least one bad loss.

Then there are Vanderbilt (6-6, 0-0) and South Carolina (6-6, 0-0). At best the two teams will scramble to rise above the SEC’s bottom tier. Add one more SEC team to the same situation. It is the Georgia Bulldogs (10-3, 0-0). The Bulldogs will likely be competitive in more SEC games than will the Dores and the Gamecocks, but UGA could end up losing just as many SEC games.

dark. Next. Alabama is the King of Bowl Games

The next game for the Alabama Crimson Tide is a home contest with Ole Miss on Tuesday, Jan. 3.