Eleven games into the Alabama Basketball SEC regular season, the Crimson Tide shares the league lead with surprising South Carolina. SEC teams have now played either 10 or 11 SEC games. Seven SEC teams have four or fewer SEC losses, leaving each of them contention for the SEC Regular Season Championship.
One game behind the 9-2 records posted by Alabama and South Carolina is Auburn at 8-3 and 1.5 games back is Tennessee at 7-3. There are three, four-loss SEC teams; Kentucky, Florida and Texas A&M.
One of the seven will become the SEC Regular Season Champion. A typical exercise is to power rank the teams. At this point, such a task is so difficult, that any ranking will be flawed. For example, the Aggies have the lead in the most Quad 1 wins (5) from their conference and non-conference games. Only Tennessee is close with four. Alabama and South Carolina have three. Auburn, Kentucky, and Florida have just two each.
The Quad 1 wins matter much in NCAA Tournament seeding, but cannot be the only data point used to measure the SEC's best current teams.
The Alabama Crimson Tide has, according to Ken Pomeroy's calculation, college basketball's No. 1 Adjusted Offense Efficiency. Kentucky is No. 5 nationally, but no other SEC team is higher than No. 12 among all Division 1 teams. Texas A&M is No. 40.
Should the Alabama Crimson Tide be ranked No. 1?
Using Pomeroy's Adjusted Defense Efficiency calculation, Auburn at No. 4 nationally, and Tennessee at No. 7 lead the SEC. Only one other SEC team is in the top 41 nationally for the defensive stat; Mississippi State at No. 11. Alabama is a troubling No. 76.
Given no conclusive data that indicates how to rank the SEC's teams, grouping them into categories makes sense. In the top tier are Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and South Carolina. Kentucky, Florida and Texas A&M are in the next grouping. Defensive weakness notwithstanding, the Cats are better than some pundits have surmised. In a small third group are the two Mississippi schools and both are capable of upsets. The remaining five are SEC also-rans.
Placing South Carolina in the SEC's top tier might be flawed. The Gamecocks have won more games (21) than any other SEC team. But their schedule has probably been the SEC's easiest so far.
Among the championship contenders, some teams have tougher paths than others. In its next seven games, the Crimson Tide has arguably as much challenge as any SEC team. The teams who appear to have easier finishing schedules are Auburn, Kentucky, and Florida.