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SEC loaded with talented NCAA basketball teams

Feb 18, 2014 3:05 AM

The SEC has a bunch of teams that are loaded with talent, depth and athleticism.

Kentucky won national championships in 1998 and 2012, Florida knocked on the door in 2000 getting to the title game against Michigan State, then won it all with back-to-back titles.

Here’s a look at some of college basketball’s best teams in the SEC.

Florida Gators: Coach Bill Donovan has been the king of the SEC in recent years, as well as the college basketball world, with back-to-back titles. After a few rebuilding seasons, the Gators look fierce. They are not an attacking offensive team, middle of the SEC pack in points scored, but a powerhouse defense allowing 55.5 ppg (No. 1 in the SEC).

Led by 6-6 senior Casey Prather (15.7 ppg), 6-9 senior Patrick Young and 6-8 sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith (10 ppg, 7.8 rpg), the Gators form a big athletic frontcourt that is second in the SEC in field goal shooting, tops in shooting allowed (.366%).

Note: Florida is 15-5 UNDER the total against the SEC, including 19-7 below the total at home. The Gators begin a stretch this weekend playing three out of four on the road before hosting rival Kentucky in the finale.

Kentucky Wildcats: The Wildcats have another talented and young team for HC John Calipari, who likes to groom them for one year before they head off to the NBA. Kentucky has a powerful frontcourt of 6-9 freshman Julius Randle (16 ppg, 10 rpg) and 7-0 sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. Kentucky is more up-tempo than Florida, 27th in the nation in scoring and tops in the SEC.

Thought rated Top 10 nationally in rebounding, the Wildcats haven’t been great when stepping up – losing to Michigan State (78-74), No. 20 Baylor (67-62), No. 18 North Carolina (82-77), along with close defeats at LSU and Arkansas.

Note: The Wildcats are 3-12-2 ATS in their last 17 road games.

Ole Miss Rebels: The Rebels have impressed with a strong offense, third in the SEC behind Kentucky and LSU, and a solid defense allowing .416% (third best). Streaky senior guard Marshall Henderson (19 ppg) loves the three-point shot, hoisting almost 12 per game, but shoots 36% from the field and long range. He hit 8-of-19 threes against Tennessee, but went 2-12 against Mississippi State and 4-12 against Kentucky.

Henderson should probably pass more to junior Jarvis Summers (17.5 ppg), a better shooter and their assist leader (3.8 apg). Ole Miss has showdowns at home this week against Kentucky and Florida back-to-back.

Note: The OVER is 11-3 in the Rebels last 14 games following a loss.

LSU Tigers: It’s no secret how the Tigers win: Like the days of Shaq or Big Baby Davis they have a huge frontcourt with 6-9 junior Johnny O’Bryant III (15.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and 6-8 freshman Jordan Mickey (13.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg). LSU is one of the best rebounding and scoring teams in the SEC. The UNDER is 35-16-1 in the Tigers last 52 games following a spread loss.

The defense, though, is not strong, last in the SEC in both points allowed and defending the three-pointer (allowing 40%). After beating No. 11 Kentucky (87-82) and Arkansas they went on the road and got toasted by Georgia, 91-78, allowing 60% shooting!

Note: LSU is 5-13 ATS against the SEC and 4-13 ATS facing a team with a winning record.

Tennessee Volunteers: The Vols have been winning with a solid punch of senior guard 6-6 Jordan McRae (19 ppg), and tough up front with 6-8 senior Jeronne Maymon (11 ppg, 8 rpg) and 6-8 junior Jarnell Stokes (13.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg).

Tennessee gets it done on defense, third in the SEC in scoring, and with sound fundamentals. The Vols are a solid free throw shooting team at 76%. Tennessee plays three of its final five on the road.

Note: The Volunteers are 15-5 ATS against the SEC, plus 19-7 ATS following a loss.

Vanderbilt Commodores: Streaky Vandy hasn’t played a tough schedule and isn’t much of an offensive team, (at 67 ppg ranks No. 282 in the nation).

This is a veteran team that plays tough defense behind 6-9 senior Rod Odom (14.8 ppg, 6 rpg) and 6-10 freshman Damian Jones (11 ppg, 5 rpg) up front, and senior guard Kyle Fuller (11 ppg) running the break.

Note: Vandy is second in the SEC in points allowed and on a 38-15-2 UNDER run, including 19-7-2 in the last 28 home games.

Jim Feist, author and leader in sports information for over 40 years, hosts TV’s Proline as well as running National Sports Services since 1975. Follow him on twitter: @JimFeistSports . Reach him at [email protected]

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