SEC Stock Watch: 02.05.16 Edition

Posted by David Changas on February 5th, 2016

As we reach the halfway point of conference play, we take a look at which teams, players, and coaches we should buy and sell. This is our latest stock watch.

Buy: Vanderbilt Making the NCAA Tournament. The Commodores’ resounding win over Texas A&M Thursday night was a huge step in the right direction, but Kevin Stallings‘ team is still on the outside of the bubble at this point. They finally looked like the team everyone expected at the beginning of the season, however, and we think they will use that performance as a springboard to securing a bid. They will be favored in their next five games, and should be able to build more confidence for a tough stretch run.

Sell: Kentucky Exiting the Big Dance Early. Sure, the Wildcats looked bad in blowing a 21-point lead to Tennessee on Tuesday, but they also took Kansas to overtime and arguably should have beaten the Jayhawks at Phog Allen. They will have to get more consistent production from the post, but with Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray growing comfortable together in the backcourt, we’re not betting against a relatively deep run for John Calipari‘s team.

Kevin Stallings

Kevin Stallings and Vanderbilt got a big win Thursday night. (AP)

Buy: Kevin Punter Earning First-Team All-SEC Honors. The senior guard plays for a team that almost certainly will finish the season in the bottom third of the league, which is ordinarily a tough position from which to earn first-team all-conference honors. But Punter has been fantastic on a team with little offensive balance. He currently is second in the league in scoring (23.1 PPG) and is shooting 38.5 percent from three-point range. He’s shown remarkable improvement from his junior campaign, when he averaged just over ten points per contest. If he keeps up this level of play, Punter has a strong chance to make the all-SEC first team.

Sell: Mass Early Departures at Kentucky. The conventional wisdom is that even if a player isn’t as productive as expected, he will leave school early if he’s highly regarded by NBA scouts. This has been the way it’s worked at Kentucky during the Calipari era. This team, however, does not appear to have many players who are ready to make the leap to the next level. Jamal Murray, a sure-fire first-round pick, will certainly take the plunge, but we would bet that Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, and Skal Labissiere will all return to Lexington for at least one more season.

Buy: South Carolina Missing the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks sit at 19-3, so it seems a little strange to think there is any question about them making the Big Dance. But a close look at their resume shows that they’ve got a lot of work to do. They’ve beaten only two top-50 KenPom teams, and their three losses are to Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. Their next three games are at Texas A&M, and home against LSU and Kentucky. It would behoove them to perform well in those to solidify their standing in the NCAA Tournament field.

Sell: LSU Entering March on the Bubble. The Tigers could have ended any question about whether they will make the NCAA Tournament field with a win against Oklahoma last Saturday, but alas, LSU couldn’t get the job done. Still, the Tigers are 7-2 in SEC play and are a different team than the one that lost several pre-conference games against inferior opponents. The return of Keith Hornsby and addition of Craig Victor have made a huge difference, and we believe Johnny Jones’s team will pile up the wins heading into the postseason. Despite their current RPI ranking of 73, LSU will not be sweating things come Selection Sunday.

LSU and Ben Simmons will have nothing to worry about come Selection Sunday. (Getty)

LSU and Ben Simmons will have nothing to worry about come Selection Sunday. (Getty)

Buy: Every SEC Coach Will Return Next Year. For a league that has turned over nearly half of its coaches in the past two offseasons, stability in that area is unusual. But as we survey the league’s head men, there are no spots where it’s obvious anyone will be heading out the door. Georgia’s Mark Fox may be the best bet to be sent packing, and if Vanderbilt folds down the stretch, there’s a chance a push could be made to remove Stallings. But those two coaches are well-liked by their administrations, and we expect them to be back. Certainly, someone could move on voluntarily, but with the league as a whole recruiting at a higher level than it has in the recent past, the future of SEC basketball is brighter than it has been in some time. We think all the coaches leading their teams will be back for more next season.

Sell: Making Fun of the SEC. The league is an easy target for fans and pundits alike because of its apparent obsession with football and lack of concern about hoops. And while there has been plenty to criticize about the league this season, it’s slowly rounding into shape and could offer some surprises in March. An influx of freshman talent and a maturation of teams that are currently rebuilding should make for a much-improved product next season. Those who like to poke fun at the league should do so now, as we’re confident there won’t be much to ridicule in the near future.

David Changas (166 Posts)

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