SEC Stock Watch: Volume II

Posted by David Changas on January 25th, 2018

As we approach the halfway mark of SEC play, it’s time for this season’s second installment of Stock Watch.

Trending Up

It’s been an unusual season for Bruce Pearl, who has Auburn in first place in the SEC (Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Auburn as Regular Season Champion. With Wednesday night’s win at Missouri, Auburn is now 6-1 in the SEC with three road wins and a favorable schedule ahead. The Tigers are without question the biggest surprise in a league with quite a few of them, and there is no reason to think that they’ll fall apart anytime soon.
  • An Eight-Bid League. For a conference that submitted only three of its 14 teams into the Big Dance just three years ago, the fact that so many of its members are still reasonably in the hunt for a bid in late January is remarkable. Right now, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama all appear to be safe bets to make the field, while Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina are in the running. Whether any of these 10 teams can do any damage once they get there remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that times around the SEC have changed.
  • Yante Maten. The Georgia senior has not disappointed in his final campaign. He leads the SEC in scoring (19.9 PPG), ranks second in rebounding (9.4 RPG), and is almost single-handedly keeping the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament conversation. If they can make a run to .500 or better in the second half of conference play, Maten might be looking at SEC Player of the Year honors.

Flat

  • Bruce Pearl. It might seem odd for Pearl to land here given the remarkable job he has done with a team that has surged to a great start without the services of two expected elite talents, Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley. But it is the reason that those two aren’t playing that puts the fourth-year Auburn coach in this category. As long as the specter of the FBI investigation hangs over the program, no one on the Plains will get too comfortable regardless of how well things are going on the floor.

  • Arkansas. The Razorbacks are a difficult team to figure out this season. After starting the season at 11-2 including a conference-opening win over Tennessee, Arkansas has now lost three in a row punctuated by a blowout home defeat to LSU. Tuesday night’s come-from-behind double-overtime win at Georgia was a relief, but Mike Anderson would definitely like to see more consistency from his squad.

Trending Down

Texas A&M Is Seeking More Smiles This Season (USA Today Images)

  • Texas A&M. The Aggies got off to an inexplicable 0-5 start in SEC play but appeared to have turned things around with home wins over Ole Miss and Missouri before a second loss to LSU on Tuesday night. What looked like a team destined for a high NCAA Tournament seed this March is now one that must stabilize things if it wants a guaranteed ticket at all. A trip to Kansas this weekend for the Big 12/SEC Challenge is a tall order, but a win at Phog Allen Fieldhouse (where the Jayhawks have lost two games this season) could solidify this team’s standing and end its midseason slump once and for all.
  • Mark Fox’s Future. Georgia has blown massive leads in its last two outings against Auburn and Arkansas, and at 12-7 overall and 3-5 in the SEC, the Dawgs are squarely in the danger zone for postseason play. Fox is now in his 10th year at the school — and while he is well-respected in the coaching profession and widely regarded as one of the cleanest coaches in the game — at some point, the school’s commitment to winning in basketball will be questioned if the team again fails to reach the NCAA Tournament. Two trips to the Big Dance in a decade simply isn’t enough for a program with the size and resources of Georgia.
  • Kentucky as a Postseason Threat. The Wildcats are 5-3 in SEC play and played well in the second half of Tuesday night’s 78-65 win over Mississippi State. But nothing we have seen from John Calipari’s squad this season gives any indication that this team is a threat to advance very far into the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky draws West Virginia in Morgantown on Saturday and will get an opportunity there to make a huge resume-enhancing statement, but unless the Wildcats show significant improvement in a number of areas (shooting, turnovers, defensive rebounding), the odds of a breakthrough are slim.
David Changas (157 Posts)


Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *