Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SEC Basketball Roundtable End of Regular Season Q&A

The members of the SEC Basketball Power Poll (that includes me) are having an end of the regular season round table. The Georgia Sports Blog is going to post their roundtable's answers on Wednesday, but here are mine in the meantime.

1) Who is the player of the year? Coach of the year? Why?
Player of the Year: Anthony Davis, Kentucky. I am a big "impact" guy when it comes to rating basketball players and Davis is off the charts in this category. Multiple guys are more dangerous scorers, but the Chicago native has had a HUGE impact on the defensive side of the ball and fit in nicely with other very talented players in Kentucky's offense.

Coach of the Year: John Calipari, Kentucky. I don't know if Calipari's one and done strategy will pay off in the long run with Coach K like multiple national championships or Tom Izzo like Final Four appearances, but the one thing he has done is mold four new and very talented players into an already loaded roster and made them better as the season has gone on. Ask Ben Howland and UCLA how tough that can be. This is his best coaching job in his first three seasons as the Wildcats are considered near locks to make it back to the Final 4. An impressive feat in today's world of roster turnover.

2) Who is the breakout player of the year? Why?
I am not going to give it to Anthony Davis since he is a freshman and you never really know what to expect from freshman (good or bad). I will go with Miss State's Arnett Moultrie. The junior ranks 4th in the SEC in scoring at 16 ppg and is also pulling down nearly 11 rebounds per night. Moultrie coming off a transfer year from UTEP where he averaged 10 and 9 ppg in his first two seasons so the fact that he has raised his scoring and rebound average in a tougher league impresses me.

3) What team is the biggest surprise (good or bad)?
I will stick with the Volunteer state for my good and bad surprises.

On the good end I say Tennessee who stands at 10-6 in the league with a brand new coach who replaced the school's best coach ever. The Volunteers ended the season on a four game winning streaking, including a win that very much impressed Bruce Pearl.

On the disappointing end I will say Vanderbilt who also stands 10-6, but whom so much more was expected. It was as if the Commodores hit a wall in terms of their potential this season and get over the hump. Kevin Stallings has not been great in the NCAA Tournament recently so it will be interesting to see how they fare with a middle seed.

4) Nationally, the SEC is viewed as top heavy, but weak below about team #3. What are your thoughts on the conference's performance in the national view?
With Kentucky being so dominant, the SEC will always be in the news. But after that Florida and Vanderbilt have been very inconsistent and the West is largely mediocre again. I look at it how ACC Football was in the early 2000s when FSU was competing for national titles every year and a Clemson or Georgia Tech may have a good season here or there but largely the league was mediocre.

The reason is simple. The fan support just isn't there for basketball in the SEC. The league does have a chance to get better by being able to spend more money on new coaches (and more importantly fire any coach) than any other conference. But until that money turns into wins the SEC will not be in the B1G/Big East/ACC yearly debate for best conference.

5) What teams will make the NCAA tourney? Any surprise runs forthcoming?
Kentucky, Florida, and Vanderbilt are in. I feel pretty good about Alabama too. After that I think Miss State or Ole Miss has a chance if they can win get to the Finals in the SEC Tournament and the small conference tourneys go to form and don't take away their spots.

I am still waiting for the Vandy we thought we would see all season long, but I don't see a run considering Stallings recent NCAA history.

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