SEC Stock Watch: 01.22.16 Edition

Posted by David Changas on January 22nd, 2016

We are now one-third of the way through conference play, and the balance of power in the SEC is starting to take shape. This is our latest Stock Watch.

Buy: Texas A&M. The Aggies brought in a top-five recruiting class, and big things were expected. However, it hasn’t been the heralded crop of top-75 players — one of whom has already left College Station — that has carried Billy Kennedy’s team. Instead, it has been several veterans — Danuel House and Jalen Jones most prominent among them — and a graduate transfer (Anthony Collins) who have put the Aggies squarely in the driver’s seat in the SEC with a 6-0 start to league play. They should get to 8-0 with games against Missouri and at Arkansas forthcoming before things get more difficult, but it’s fair to say they have more than lived up to expectations, and with such a veteran club, a long run in the NCAA Tournament should be expected.

Danuel House has emerged as one of the most dangerous scorers in the SEC (247sports.com).

Danuel House has helped lead Texas A&M to a perfect start in SEC play. (247sports.com)

SellMissouri. Things for the other 2012 entrant into the SEC have not gone nearly as well as they have for their counterpart to the south. Kim Anderson’s Tigers have already a self-imposed a postseason ban that, with Missouri sitting at 8-10, is meaningless, and the future looks murky. This is what happens when Frank Haith has the reins of your program for three years. While the Tigers have a good tradition of strong basketball, it may take several years to right this ship, and questions as to whether the 60-year-old Anderson is the man to get it pointed in the right direction are fair, despite the fact that he had nothing to do with the troubles they are currently facing.

Buy: Michael WhiteAfter the beatdown Florida took at Tennessee a little over two weeks ago, we didn’t think we would be writing this, but the Gators have righted the ship since, losing narrowly at Texas A&M before three straight wins, while getting to 4-2 in the league. They should get to 5-2 in league play if they take care of Auburn at the O’Connell Center on Saturday. If they can secure a few big wins over the last month and a half of the regular season, their profile (No. 28 according to KenPom and No. 20 in the RPI) suggests they will make the Big Dance.

SellBen Howland. Okay, we really like Howland’s overall future in Starkville, so this may be a bit of an overreaction, but the 0-5 start to league play, which included a home loss to Tennessee last Saturday, is very disappointing. Mississippi State is surprisingly dreadful on defense (they rank 160th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom), which was always a trademark of Howland’s teams at UCLA. While the Bulldogs play hard for their new high-profile coach, they simply haven’t been able to pull out any victories. We expect them to pick off some teams soon, though, as their average margin of defeat is only 5.8 PPG in league contests.

Ben Howland Has Been A Reliable Program Builder Over The Years (Photo: Fansided)

Things will eventually get better for Ben Howland at Mississippi State, but probably not this year. (Fansided)

Buy: Luke Kornet. Vanderbilt sits at a disappointing 11-7 on the season, and though it has righted the ship with three straight wins after an 0-3 start to conference play, it does not yet have any wins that will impress the Selection Committee. However, assuming things continue to trend in the right direction for the Commodores, they will be able to blame their December swoon on the loss of the seven-foot junior. They lost three of the five games he missed, including two at home. Kornet came to Vanderbilt as very much a project. In this third year, he’s arguably the most important player on a team still capable of making a decent run in the Big Dance.

Sell: Skal Labissiere. The much-heralded Kentucky center had a bounce-back game of sorts in the Wildcats 80-66 thrashing of Arkansas Thursday night, scoring in double figures (11) for the first time since December 9, so perhaps a turnaround has begun. Still, the player who was the most highly-touted member of John Calipari’s latest impressive haul has been a disappointment, and it is difficult to envision him doing enough to help get Kentucky where it expects to be in March.

Buy: All the League’s Coaches Returning. As it stands now, none of the SEC coaches appear to be sitting on too hot a seat. The teams at the bottom of the league standings have coaches in their first or second seasons at their respective schools, so they aren’t going anywhere. While Johnny Jones’s seat could get hot if LSU misses the NCAA Tournament, he has recruited too well for that to be likely, and we are still betting that the Tigers earn a bid. Mark Fox is well-liked by the Georgia administration, and while a significant fade by the Bulldogs down the stretch could imperil his future, we think he will be back in 2016-17.

Sell: Ole Miss’s Homecourt Advantage. The Rebels moved into The Pavilion at Ole Miss in the start of SEC play, and proceeded to beat Alabama and squeak by Georgia in the first two games in their swanky new $96.5 million joint. Since then, though, they’ve dropped games at home to Florida and South Carolina. We expect that Andy Kennedy’s squad will eventually make The Pavilion a tough place for opponents to play, but as they settle in to their new digs, the time might be right for getting the Rebels in Oxford.

David Changas (132 Posts)


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