2011 SEC Review: Grading Every SEC Team and the SEC

HenryContributor IApril 4, 2011

2011 SEC Review: Grading Every SEC Team and the SEC

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    2011 SEC Tournament Game, Florida vs VanderbiltKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    With the national championship tonight, I thought we should take a look at the SEC’s chances of winning the game. Oh wait, this isn't football. Too bad.

    With the SEC season completed after a Saturday loss by Kentucky, why don’t we take the time to grade each team on the season that was.

    For each team, I will take a look at preseason expectations along with talent level and postseason performance.

Alabama

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    #5 Tony Mitchell, Alabama at VanderbiltGrant Halverson/Getty Images

    Predicted: 3rd in West

    Finished: 25-12 (12-4)

    Postseason: SEC Semifinal & NIT Championship Game Loss to Wichita State

    Breakdown: This is a very interesting situation for Alabama. Early season issues led to one of the worst out-of-conference performances of any major conference team.

    The SEC season turned the team around to finish with the second best record in the league (including a 4-2 record against the far superior East Division) and an undefeated season in Coleman Coliseum.

    Led by Green inside and a more mature Releford, Bama looked much better. After failing to impress the NCAA tournament committee, the Tide settled for a No. 1 seed in the NIT.

    They continued to play well through the tournament and made it to the finals before falling to Wichita State. Some may see Alabama’s season as somewhat of a failure, but all things considered Alabama finished very positively.

    Final Grade: B

Arkansas

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    Rotonei ClarkeAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Predicted: 4th in West

    Finished: 18-13 (7-9)

    Postseason: SEC First Round

    Breakdown: Arkansas came into the season with somewhat mid-level expectations.

    Arkansas fans found hope in the out-of-conference schedule after finishing with a solid record, although they did fail to beat the only tournament teams they faced.  Arkansas was a very up-and-down team, going on winning and losing streaks throughout the season.

    The team won some good games but failed to play consistently enough impress. With that, they fired Coach John Pelphrey after the season and went out and stole Coach Anderson from Missouri.

    Final Grade: C

    P.S. On the positive note the Anderson hire gets an A-. A good coach who can do great things there, especially with that recruiting class coming in. 

Auburn

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    Auburn BasketballKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Predicted: 6th in West

    Finished: 11-20 (4-12)

    Postseason: SEC First Round

    Breakdown: Most expected Auburn to struggle this year, and struggle they did.

    After a miserable out-of-conference performance (although they did beat Sweet 16 team Florida State), it looked like the SEC would be just as dreadful to start out with.

    After scoring six in the first half against LSU and blowout losses to Kentucky and Mississippi State, Auburn really picked it up a notch.

    They played both Florida and Alabama close and notched their first SEC win at South Carolina. Although they only managed only four wins in SEC play, Auburn played with much heart and determination the rest of the season.

    Lack of talent, depth and experience were tough, but at least they gave it their all.

    Final Grade: C- because they probably should have gotten blown out in just about every game

Florida

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    The Florida leadersKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Predicted: 1st in East

    Finished: 29-8 (13-3) 

    Postseason: SEC Championship Game, NCAA Elite Eight loss to Butler

    Breakdown: Florida was the most experienced and developed team coming in to the SEC season, which is why they were the selected champions.

    They did not disappoint and won their first regular-season title since their last national championship season.

    They made the SEC tournament final before falling to one of the hottest teams in the country, Kentucky. Out-of-conference was not so impressive but not bad either.

    They definitely did well when it mattered though by making it to their fifth Elite Eight in school history. Billy Donovan finished the year as SEC Coach of the Year, and while they failed to reach the Final Four, this team met most of the expectations they set for themselves.

    Final Grade: A

Georgia

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    Georgia BasketballKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Predicted: 3rd in East

    Finished: 21-12 (9-7)

    Postseason: SEC Quarterfinals, NCAA Second-Round loss the Washington

    Breakdown: Georgia came into the year as the popular sleeper pick in the SEC. They pulled of some good wins and were one of the few teams without a bad loss anywhere on their schedule.

    Led by Thompkins and Leslie, Georgia was a very consistent team. They were never able to reach the next level though, as the surrounding cast just couldn’t provide the support their stars needed. Georgia did do what they wanted to do for the most part.

    Fox made this team competitive, and they made the NCAA tournament.

    Final Grade: B

Kentucky

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Predicted: 2nd in East

    Finished: 29-9 (10-6)

    Postseason: SEC Tournament Champions, NCAA Final Four loss to UCONN

    Breakdown: Kentucky is a team that grew a lot throughout the season.

    Coming in, they had all the talent as usual but maybe not as much as last year’s team.

    They did well out-of-conference but tended to struggle on the road early in the SEC schedule. Following the road loss to Arkansas, the new Wildcats emerged.

    Less talented than the team a year ago, but they seemed to work better as a team and with less ego.

    Knight took the lead, but they functioned as a group. They finished the year as one of the strongest teams in the country.

    Calipari may have done his best coaching job from beginning to end and took Kentucky to their first Final Four in 13 years.

    Final Grade: A

LSU

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    Could Mike have played better than LSU?Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Predicted: 5th in West

    Finished: 11-21 (3-13)

    Postseason: SEC First Round

    Breakdown: What to say about LSU? They thought they would be bad. They were.

    Bad in every phase of the season. Ended the year 1-14 and just looked like they didn’t care most of the time.

    This team has fallen off more than any other team over the last two years, and it doesn’t look much better for the future.

    Final Grade: D-

Mississippi State

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Predicted: 1st in West

    Finished: 17-14 (9-7)

    Postseason: SEC Quarterfinals

    Breakdown: Did any team in the SEC have as much turmoil as the Bulldogs?

    Filled with fights, suspensions and Twitter wars, Mississippi State probably disappointed more than any other team in the league. They may have finished second in the West, but this was a team that could have been a NCAA tournament team had they stayed disciplined early on.

    They finished on somewhat of a hot streak and showed that this team could have possibly won 11 or more games in conference.

    Mixed with the horrid out-of-conference performance, Bulldog fans can only wonder what this year could have been like with Johnson, Bost and Sidney along with a whole year of growth together as a team.

    Final Grade: D+

Ole Miss

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Predicted: 2nd in West

    Finished: 20-14 (7-9)

    Postseason: SEC Quarterfinals, NIT First Round loss at California

    Breakdown: Ole Miss was a team that coming into the SEC season looked like the class of the West. They had the best out-of-conference performance of any western team and were led by one of the best point guards in the league in Chris Warren.

    Young talent also gave them hope, but Ole miss failed to play consistently enough to make any real damage in the SEC. They played poor at times but still had a relatively successful season.

    Kennedy has also been one of the most successful coaches in Ole Miss history.

    Final Grade: C+

South Carolina

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Predicted: 6th in East

    Finished: 14-16 (5-11)

    Postseason: SEC First Round

    Breakdown: Another team that got pretty much what they expected.

    A young team that played well at times and even got some pretty good wins over tournament teams. They looked like they could shock the SEC at the beginning of conference play starting 3-1 with wins over Vandy and at Florida.

    They began to falter though and really struggled after that and became what most thought they would be.

    Final Grade: C-

Tennessee

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Predicted: 4th in East

    Finished: 19-15 (8-8)

    Postseason: SEC Quarterfinals, NCAA Second Round loss to Michigan

    Breakdown: Tennessee tended to do the complete opposite of most teams.

    They started as one of the hottest teams in the country and rose to seventh in the polls. They knocked off some very good teams and then decided to shut down.

    They were a very average team most of the time from that point on, and finished the year with a sad showing in a 30-point loss to Michigan.

    The team raised its own expectations and failed to reach them.

    Turmoil around the program could be a big reason, and it showed as Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl following the season.

    I personally think he was the greatest coach ever at Tennessee, and he finally got people to put their butts in that massive gym for a guy’s game and not just for the Lady Vols.

    Final Grade: C+ for Basketball, F for Coach/NCAA turmoil

Vanderbilt

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Predicted: 5th in East

    Finished: 23-11 (9-7)

    Postseason: SEC Semifinals, NCAA Second Round loss to Richmond

    Breakdown: Much like Georgia, Vanderbilt was a very consistent team all the way through the year and failed to record any bad losses.

    They played well most of the time and have become a consistent threat out of the SEC. They were a consistently ranked team and really helped the SEC’s image early on.

    The only real downside was that once again Vandy failed to make it out of their first game at the NCAA Tournament. Maybe they have some kind of curse, but with the right moves, this could be a very good team come next season.

    Final Grade: B+

The SEC

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Overview: The SEC as a conference has been in a bit of a lull the last couple of seasons.

    New coaches have brought some new interest into the conference though. The conference is slowly growing back to one of the best, but for most of this year, they didn’t put out a great showing.

    First of all the West was absolutely horrid, and the East was too clogged to allow anyone to become nationally relevant.

    As a whole the conference probably finished as the third or fourth best conference, which is pretty good, but if programs like Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State can grow back up like they want, the SEC can challenge for that top spot once again.

    OVERALL GRADE=B