College Hoops: Best of the SEC
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|Jim Feist - 2/12/2012 12:20 PM|
by Jim Feist
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 with back-to-back titles. Here's a look at some of college basketball's best teams in the SEC.
Florida: Coach Bill Donovan has been the king of the SEC in recent years, as well as the college basketball world, with back-to-back titles, and after a few rebuilding seasons the Gators look fierce. This is an uptempo attack that Donovan prefers, ninth in the nation in scoring (80 ppg) behind the dynamic backcourt of sophomore guard Kenny Boynton (17.6 ppg) and freshman Bradley Beal (14.3 ppg). They took in on the chin last week in a crushing 78-58 loss at top-ranked Kentucky, however.
The frontcourt has a pair of sophomores in 6-9 Patric Young and 6-7 Will Yeguet, fourth in the SEC in rebounding. Florida is tops in the conference in three point shooting and the defense is outstanding, allowing 42% shooting in SEC play. The Gators have two big road games this week at Alabama and Arkansas and finish up the season at home against Kentucky in a revenge game the first week of March. The Gators are 15-8-2 ATS in their last 24 games against a team with a winning record and on a 36-17 run over the total.
Kentucky: The Wildcats have another talented and young team for coach John Calipari, who likes to groom them for one year before they head off to the NBA. Kentucky has a powerful frontcourt of 6-10 freshman Anthony Davis (13.9 ppg, 10 rpg) and 6-7 freshman Mike Kidd-Gilchrist (12.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg), 12th in the nation and tops in the SEC in rebounding. In blowing out Florida last week, 78-58, it was their 49th straight home win. "It's fun winning by 20," one player said. Throw in 6-4 sophomore Doron Lamb and the big Cats lead the SEC in shooting (48.6%). Kentucky has been on a tear since losing at Indiana by a point, 73-72. The Wildcats are 3-11-1 ATS in their last 15 home games and the over is 18-7-2 in the Wildcats last 27 home games against a team with a losing road record. Many young teams are great at home, but can struggle on the road and the Cats have games at Mississippi State and at Florida remaining.
Alabama: The Tide ran away with the SEC West last year because of defense, tops in the SEC, but this season they are not as strong, ninth in the SEC in points allowed and field goal shooting. 6-8 senior JaMychal Green (13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and 6-6 junior Tony Mitchell (13 ppg, 7 rpg) lead a team that prefers a slow pace to keep things close. They had a four game losing streak last month losing all four by a total of 22 points, including a 77-71 loss to No. 2 Kentucky as a +10 dog. This team is weak on the road, on an 8-2 run over the total and the Crimson Tide is 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS loss. They get rivals Florida and Tennessee at home this week.
Vanderbilt: Vandy has used junior guard John Jenkins (19.7 ppg) and 6-7 senior Jeff Taylor (17.7 ppg) to push the ball up the court, the top two scorers in the SEC. While the offense is strong, they are not a strong rebounding team with 6-8, 225-pound Lance Goulbourne up front and are second in the conference in turnovers. One problem for Vandy has been close games, losing to No. 11 Xavier, No. 6 Louisville and No. 15 Mississippi State all in overtime. They also lost to Florida and Arkansas by 8 apiece and by 6 to Indiana State. They've also been overvalued at home: The Commodores are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 home games.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs like to bomb away from long range with senior guard Dee Boost (15.8 ppg), plus they have 6-11 junior Arnett Moultrie (17 ppg, 11 rpg) on one of the better offenses in the SEC. But they are not big up front and can struggle at defending the three, as when Florida hit 11 of 24 from long range in a 69-57 Gator win and Arkansas hung 98 on them. The Bulldogs gave Baylor a run before losing 54-52 as a +7 dog. Four of their final six games are on the road.
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