Which Southeastern Conference basketball teams will rise to the top nationally and play in the NCAA Tournament this season? It appears that the SEC East is loaded with talent in 2010-2011.
Any discussion of SEC men's basketball always has to begin with the Kentucky Wildcats. No doubt they are one of the top programs in America, despite all of the scandals they have endured and the NCAA probations that have followed for UK.
However, the most talented team in the SEC this year, from top to bottom, is clearly Tennessee. Bruce Pearl has a dozen players at a minimum that could play for any top team in America.
Look for the Volunteers to be ranked in the Top Ten nationally, along with Kentucky, once the regular season draws to a close. Florida won't be far behind, and neither will Vanderbilt. South Carolina could very well make it five SEC East teams to make it to the NCAA Tourney.
In the SEC West, both Mississippi teams are the class of that division. Mississippi State will be nationally ranked for sure. The Ole Miss Rebels might be as well. It's conceivable that as many as seven SEC teams could wind up in the top 25 nationally. In any case, look for that many to make it to the Big Dance.
Georgia, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, and Alabama will all struggle this year in hoops. Some of the coaches at those schools could very well be on the hot seat. John Pelphrey appears especially vulnerable in Fayetteville unless he gets his team back in the hunt in conference play.
Pelphrey has been at Arkansas for four seasons now and unless he improves, he will most likely be replaced. The other four schools who aren't expected to make it to the NCAA this year have coaches just starting out or are early in their careers as head coaches in the competitive SEC.