College Basketball Preview: the SEC Conference

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College Basketball Preview: the SEC Conference
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Typically known for its dominance in football, the SEC is beginning to make noise in the college basketball world.

Much of this credit can be placed on the resurgence of Kentucky and, more specifically, John Calipari.

Combine that with the emergence of Tennessee and Florida as consistently solid teams, and the conference usually has a handful of quality teams capable of making noise in March.

Calipari is comparable to Houdini in that no matter how much trouble he gets into with the NCAA, he's always able to wriggle his way out and get off with no more than a slap on the wrist.

Last season, Calipari took his first group comprised primarily of freshmen to the Elite Eight before losing to West Virginia. Tennessee also reached the Elite Eight before losing to Michigan State. The other two teams, Florida and Vanderbilt, played in some serious nail-biters in the first round, losing to BYU in double OT and Murray State on a last-second shot, respectively.

This conference lost its fair share of talent to the NBA draft and graduation.

Kentucky had five players drafted in the first round, while Mississippi State lost one of the best shot-blockers in the history of the game in Jarvis Varnado. Vanderbilt lost big man A.J. Ogilvy and South Carolina lost its spark plug, and the conference's leading scorer, Devan Downey.

As much talent as this conference lost, it has more coming in and coming back. Five teams put together top-25 recruiting classes, and the teams that didn't fare well last year return tons of talent.

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