2022-23 SEC College Basketball Power Rankings

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 SEC College Basketball Power Rankings

Basketball

2022-23 SEC College Basketball Power Rankings

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Teams have played their exhibition games and are ready for the season to start on Monday, November 7. The SEC is one of the best conferences in college basketball and is expected to have multiple Final Four contenders. Here is a pre-season ranking of every SEC basketball program heading into Monday’s opener. 

 

The Bottom Feeders 

14. South Carolina Gamecocks

Head Coach: Lamont Paris

2021 Record: 18-13 (9-9)

The biggest question for the Gamecocks is: how good is GG Jackson? Jackson was at one point the top player in the 2023 class and committed to North Carolina. He changed his mind and reclassified to South Carolina. At the end of the day, if Jackson is a legit top draft pick, South Carolina can be competitive in some games. If he isn’t, then it will likely be a long season in Columbia. New coach, Lamont Paris, has a long road ahead of him in rebuilding this program. 

 

13. Georgia Bulldogs

Head Coach: Mike White

2021 Record: 6-26 (1-17)

Georgia is in a tough spot right now following one of the worst seasons in program history. Out goes Tom Crean, in comes Mike White. They’ll certainly be better than they were last season, with the top three scorers returning. Kario Oquendo averaged 15.2 points per game as a freshman last season and was quietly one of the better freshmen in the league. If things go right this season, Georgia could be competitive this season, but unfortunately for Georgia fans, I doubt it means anything more than a below .500 conference record. 

 

12. Vanderbilt Commodores

Head Coach: Jerry Stackhouse

2021 Record: 19-17 (7-11)

It is going to be tough to replace Scottie Pippen, who averaged over 20 points per game over the last two seasons. He was a guy who could go out and win a game for you on any given night. He is now gone. Ezra Manjon is a quality transfer from UC-Davis. He averaged 15.0 points per and was a three-time All Big-West player. Jordan Wright is the only player returning that averaged double digits for the Commodores. Liam Robbins being healthy helps as well. Vanderbilt just doesn’t have the top-tier talent required to compete in the SEC in 2022. 

 

Could Surprise Some

11. Missouri Tigers

Head Coach: Dennis Gates

2021 Record: 12-21 (5-13)

Mizzou is difficult for me to place. They could be two or three spots lower if things don’t mesh well. On the other hand, if some of their transfers fit into the SEC and prove they can play at this level, they could be a couple of spots higher. Isiaih Mosley is a name to keep an eye on. He is an explosive scorer. He was the only player in the nation to hit the 50-40-90 club while averaging 20 points a night. He is accompanied by a few other mid-major transfers as well. Those transfers will be joining All-SEC forward Kobe Brown.  At the end of the day, if the mid-major transfers can play at the SEC level, look out for the Tigers as a sleeper team. 

 

10. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Head Coach: Chris Jans

2021 Record: 18-16 (8-10)

Mississippi State is very similar to Missouri. A new coach, a ton of mid-major transfers that have proven production, and a returning star. Tolu Smith returns to Starkville after averaging 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds a season ago. Transfers Tyler Stevenson and Will McNair provide even more size and production to the Bulldogs’ front court. The concern arises with the backcourt. Someone must step up and be the lead guard on this team. If they don’t find quality guard play, it could be a rough season for them. If someone does step up, I can see Mississippi State being a tournament team.  

 

Tournament Hopefuls 

9. LSU Tigers

Head Coach: Matt McMahon

2021 Record: 22-12 (9-9)

After firing Will Wade, LSU went out and hired Murray State head coach Matt McMahon to come in and fix the mess Wade left behind. As a result of Wade’s departure, nearly the entire roster is turned over, with Adam Miller being the lone survivor in Baton Rouge. McMahon has brought in three Murray State transfers that will all compete for playing time. K.J. Williams is the best of the bunch. The former Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year averaged 18 points and eight rebounds per game a season ago. At 6’10, he has the size to match up with other elite “bigs” in the league. As previously mentioned, Adam Miller is the last remaining Tiger from Wade’s regime. If he breaks out, watch out for LSU, they could be quite good this season. However, given the amount of roster turnover, it could take a year or two before McMahon really finds his groove. They are a real wild card in the conference. 

 

8. Ole Miss Rebels

Head Coach: Kermit Davis

2021 Record: 13-19 (4-14)

Daeshun Ruffin’s health is one of the biggest storylines in the SEC heading into 2022. He had a really good freshman season going before needing season-ending knee surgery. The expectation is that he will be ready for the opener. There will likely be rust, but should he be 100% healthy by SEC play, I think the Rebels will be fine. The duo of Ruffin alongside Matthew Murrell makes for one of the league’s best backcourts. Murrell is a 39% three-point shooter and can go off for 25-plus on any given night. If Jaemyn Brakefield can take a step forward and the transfers can gel, Ole Miss will likely be in the mix for an NCAA tournament spot. 

 

7. Texas A&M Aggies

Head Coach: Buzz Williams

2021 Record: 27-13 (9-9)

Back in March, Selection Sunday was a bit of a bummer in College Station. The Aggies were left out of the field despite a magical run to the SEC title game. They may not have earned a tournament bid a year ago, but it does bring some momentum into what hopes to be a great year in Aggieland. Quenton Jackson departs, but the Aggies do return their next three leading scorers from a year ago. Texas A&M will likely be one of the nation’s best defensive teams. The real question is: Do they have the bucket getters that you need to win close games? Should Tyrece Radford or Henry Coleman become go-to scorers, A&M will firmly be in the NCAA Tournament come March. 

6. Florida Gators

Head Coach: Todd Golden

2021 Record: 20-14 (9-9)

Todd Golden replaces Mike White after a somewhat disappointing tenure in Gainesville. Golden led San Francisco to the NCAA Tournament out of the WCC a year ago. Colin Castleton returns for the Gators. Outside of Oscar Tshiebwe, Castleton may be the next best frontcourt player in the conference. St. Bonaventure transfer Kyle Lofton is a quality point guard. He brings consistency and experience to the team with over 110 starts under his belt. There is a lot of versatility and potential in guys like Alex Fudge, Will Richard, and C.J. Felder. Those guys must hit their stride for Florida to reach the expectations that they have for themselves down in the Swamp. 

 

5. Auburn Tigers

Head Coach: Bruce Pearl

2021 Record: 28-6 (15-3)

Auburn is another wild card in the SEC. Replacing Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler is virtually impossible. Auburn’s season will come down to how well they can manage the losses of those two guys. Morehead State transfer Johni Broome was the Ohio Valley Defensive Player of the Year with 3.9 blocks per game. He hopes to provide at least some of the defensive production that Kessler had. However, Broome isn’t just a defensive stalwart. He also averaged almost 17 points per game and over 10 rebounds per game. Five-star freshman Yohan Traore will provide some defensive versatility as well. The key for Auburn is that they are returning their top three guards. Zep Jasper, KD Johnson, and Wendell Green. If they can improve the shooting splits, Bruce Pearl will have this team as a top seed in the NCAA Tournament again. 

 

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

Head Coach: Nate Oats

2021 Record: 19-14 (9-9)

Guard Jahvon Quinerly is likely out until SEC play with an injury. However, Ohio transfer Mark Sears averaged almost 20 points per game and four assists last season. He also shot over 40% from deep. Sears can play off the ball, which makes him a great fit to Jaden Bradley, one of their top freshmen. Bradley and Brandon Miller are both talented enough to be lottery picks in the next NBA Draft. Miller is an elite wing that can score from anywhere on the floor and is highly versatile. Big man Charles Bediako will need to breakout in his sophomore campaign for Alabama to reach their full potential. A fully healthy Crimson Tide team could be a top five seed in the tournament. 

 

Final Weekend Teams

3. Arkansas Razorbacks 

Head Coach: Eric Musselman 

2021 Record: 28-9 (13-5)

Arkansas is the team with all the top freshmen this season, not Kentucky. Musselman has landed the second overall recruiting class and has brought in three consensus five-star recruits. Nick Smith, Anthony Black, and Jordan Walsh are tremendously talented. Nick Smith will likely be a top five pick. He can score from anywhere and could average close to 15 points per game or more as a freshman. Davonte Davis returns and will bring much needed experience and consistency to an extremely young team. Arkansas has a lot of youth and new faces in their program. They will absolutely take their lumps early, but by March, don’t be surprised if the Razorbacks are in the mix for a top three seed in the tournament. They are a legit Final Four contender. 

 

2. Tennessee Volunteers

Head Coach: Rick Barnes

2021 Record: 27-8 (14-4)

Tennessee won’t return star point guard Kennedy Chandler, but they return players at just about every other spot. Zakai Zeigler will be promoted to the starting point guard after an effective season from the bench last year. Santiago Vescovi is one of the best shooters in the nation. He shot over 40% from three a year ago. Triple J, Josiah Jordan-James is a quality offensive player, but his value comes from his versatility on defense. Five-star freshman Julian Phillips, should he contribute early, will raise Tennessee’s ceiling significantly. Rick Barnes’ teams always have successful regular seasons. However, it is time for it to start translating to tournament success. 


1. Kentucky Wildcats

Head Coach: John Calipari 

2021 Record: 26-8 (14-4)

It is a revenge season for the Wildcats. After losing to 15-seeded St. Peters in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2021, Kentucky looks to be a National Championship contender again this season. The reigning National Player of the Year, Oscar Tshiebwe, returns to a team with a lot of experience. C.J. Fredrick returns from missing last season with an injury. He is the best three-point shooter in the nation. Transfer Antonio Reeves is a flamethrower when he gets hot. The season will come down to the point guard position. Cason Wallace seems to be a steady force as a true freshman, but Sahvir Wheeler also returns. If he can improve his shot even a little bit, Kentucky becomes that much more dangerous. The Cats are poised for a return to the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament. 

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