Tag: Alabama

2018-2019 SEC Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Tremont Waters, LSU

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Reid Travis, Kentucky

Tremont Waters, LSU

Quindary Weatherspoon, Mississippi St

Austin Wiley, Auburn

Grant Williams, Tennessee

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Emmitt Williams, LSU

Projected Order of Finish:

1. Kentucky

The Wildcats, per usual, bring in one of the best recruiting classes in the country. This year, however, there is quality experience mixed with that. P.J. Washington and Quade Green return to a team that adds freshmen Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley and E.J. Montgomery. To top it off, grad transfer Reid Travis brings his rugged game from Stanford. This team has the perfect mix to be a dominant force all season.

2. Tennessee

The Volunteers caught everyone off guard last season as it won a share of the SEC title with a team of unknown guys. That’s not the case anymore. Reigning SEC Player of the Year, junior forward Grant Williams, returns along fellow juniors Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden as well as senior Admiral Schofield. They will have to play with expectations this season, but with so much returning, it’ll be difficult to see them not competing with Kentucky.

3. Auburn

Like Tennessee, Auburn shocked everyone by winning a share of the conference title. Unlike Tennessee, you could see there was talent on this roster. This season we will get to see most of it. The backcourt of senior Bryce Brown and junior Jared Harper are back and they’ll once again get to play with juniors Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley, both of whom missed last season due to NCAA suspension. Mustapha Heron and Desean Murray are gone, but there is enough here to keep Auburn near the top of the SEC.

4. LSU

Head coach Will Wade enters the season with a lot on his plate. The program is dealing with the death of Wayde Sims. He’s also allegedly been caught on wiretap discussing possible payments to a recruit. Despite that, he has loads of talent on this team. Five-star freshmen Emmitt Williams and Naz Reid join all-America candidate, sophomore guard Tremont Waters, to give the Tigers one of their most talented teams since Shaq was roaming the campus.

5. Mississippi St

This has to be the year for head coach Ben Howland. We’ve been patiently waiting for the full turnaround in Starkville and this appears to be it. The top 5 leading scorers, led by Nick and Quindary Weatherspoon are back for a team that held it’s own in the SEC last season. Expect the Bulldogs to do more than that this season and get back to the NCAA tournament.

6. Florida

The Gators were up-and-down last season, but still managed to garner a No. 6 seed in the tournament with 12 losses. That was due to talent and while Chris Chiozza and Egor Koulechov are gone, there still plenty of weapons left. Senior guards Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen as well as junior forward Keith Stone will be joined by a great recruiting class featuring Andrew Nembhard. Point guard may be an issue, but the Gators will be fine.

7. Vanderbilt

The collective scratching of heads came when head coach Bryce Drew was able to secure the commitments of ballyhooed freshmen Darius Garland, Simi Shittu and Aaron Nesmith. Those three and Notre Dame transfer Matt Ryan are expected to expedite the rebuild in Nashville. The Commodores struggled last season, but there is Big Dance talent on the roster now.

8. Alabama

Head coach Avery Johnson proved he could come into college and get the job done from a recruiting standpoint. While lottery pick, Collin Sexton, is with the Cleveland Cavaliers now; Johnson was able to secure another top class. The leader of that class will be Kira Lewis, who’ll be able to follow the lead of senior Donta Hall, junior Dazon Ingram and sophomore John Petty. It’s not a slam dunk that the Crimson Tide will make the tournament, but they will be in the conversation.

9. South Carolina

Head coach Frank Martin has a solid team, but the program hasn’t capitalized on its Final Four run from two seasons ago. There is experience here with senior forward Chris Silva, junior forward Malik Kotsar and Georgetown transfer guard Tre Campbell, but the talent isn’t there to keep up with the top of the league.

10. Missouri

Losing Jontay Porter for the season is crushing to the Tigers hopes for a return trip to the Big Dance. Coach Cuonzo Martin will turn to transfers K.J. Santos and Mark Smith as well as freshman Xavier Pinson to help keep the program afloat this season. Seniors Kevin Puryear and Jordan Geist leadership skills will be put to the test in what will be a challenging season in Columbia.

11. Ole Miss

New head coach Kermit Davis turned Middle Tennessee into the premier program in Conference USA before coming to Ole Miss and he’s already off to a good start. Getting freshman Blake Hinson on campus was a coup and there is enough returning in seniors Terence Davis, Bruce Stevens and junior Breein Tyree to keep the Rebels will out of the cellar of the SEC.

12. Texas A&M

Not many teams rode the roller coaster the way Texas A&M did last season. The Aggies started the season with a big win over West Virginia, but struggled mightily in the first half of SEC play. They were able to sneak into the tournament where they blew out North Carolina to reach the Sweet 16. Much of that team is gone so this will be a trying season for head coach Billy Kennedy.

13. Arkansas

The Razorbacks picked a bad year to rebuild. Arkansas lost almost everyone from a NCAA tournament team a year ago. Now, who does return is future first-round draft pick Daniel Gafford. He’ll be putting his talent on display all season, but with a 7-person recruiting class, it’s going to take a little time to get it going again.

14. Georgia

New head coach Tom Crean is in a full rebuild at Georgia. It won’t be easy. This team will need sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton to take a sizable leap forward to compete with the rest of this league. Seniors William Jackson II and Derek Ogbeide will have to be the leaders Crean leans on. The Bulldogs will struggle.

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Devils Love the Fire

 

Bagley Florida
(Jaime Valdez – USA TODAY Sports)

 

This weekend, the Duke Blue Devils won the Motion bracket of the PK80 invitational. What’s interesting is how they won.

Duke was down by at least seven in each of the wins, including being down 17 with 10 minutes remaining in their 87-84 championship win over Florida. It was an impressive show of resilience from a pretty young team.

That young team (more on that below) may now firmly be the favorites for the national title after beating Florida and Michigan St in the first month of the season.

National Player of the Week: Marvin Bagley, III, Duke.

Bagley was dominant in Portland last week as he averaged 27.3 points and 15 rebounds per game to spur Duke to the title. He has shown early on that the hype around him is legit and that he is a legitimate National Player of the Year Candidate.

Stock Up: Washington St. How about the Cougars? Washington State won the Wooden Legacy tournament in Southern California – beating 3 teams that many believe are bubble teams at the very least. This is a huge development for the Pac-12 and that program that hasn’t been the same since Tony Bennett left for Virginia.

Stock Down: Arizona. Wow. If there was any team that the FBI investigation appears its taken its toll on its the Arizona Wildcats. They lost all three game in the Battle of Atlantis and weren’t competitive in the their 89-64 lost to Purdue. It’s an embarrassing performance for a program under the microscope.

Stock Up: Division I basketball in the state of Nevada. Both Nevada and UNLV are undefeated and have looked impressive doing so. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels  destroyed Utah by 25 on Thanksgiving in a clear sign that head coach Marvin Menzies has it turned it around. Meanwhile Nevada has already beaten Rhode Island and Davidson. It looks like those two could be making the Mountain West at least a two-bid league.

Stock Down: Trying to win a game with three players. It’s almost impossible, but Alabama came close. After a scuffle when it’s reserves left the bench, a foul out and an injury, the Crimson Tide was forced to finish its game against Minnesota with just three players. The crazy thing is that after all that happened, Alabama actually cut into the lead. Still not recommended.

This Week’s Top 25:

1.       Duke

2.       Kansas

3.       Michigan St

4.       Villanova

5.       Miami

6.       Texas A&M

7.       Florida

8.       Minnesota

9.       Notre Dame

10.   Virginia

11.   Wichita St

12.   USC

13.   Gonzaga

14.   Kentucky

15.   Cincinnati

16.   North Carolina

17.   Rhode Island

18.   Seton Hall

19.   Xavier

20.   West Virginia

21.   Louisville

22.   Alabama

23.   Baylor

24.   TCU

25.   Arizona St