| MBB/WBB Preseason basketball predictions for Alabama and the SEC.


Century Club

A full listing of Blue Ribbon's preseason SEC predictions follows:

1. Tennessee

2. Kentucky

3. Alabama

4. LSU

5. Florida

6. Ole Miss

7. Auburn

8. Arkansas

9. South Carolina

10. Mississippi State

11. Texas A&M

12. Georgia

13. Missouri

14. Vanderbilt


Century Club

SEC predicted order of finish


The Vols unsurprisingly slipped last season after the departures of Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone. They finished 9-9 in the SEC and 68th at KenPom, meaning the only way they would've made the NCAA Tournament would've been by winning an SEC Tournament that was never played. So why is Tennessee picked first in the SEC this season? It's because Rick Barnes is returning four of his top five scorers and enrolling a top-five recruiting class featuring two five-star prospects -- namely Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, both of whom project as possible one-and-done first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. In other words, Tennessee has a perfect balance of experience and high-end talent, which has proven to be a recipe for success in college basketball. So the Vols, led by John Fulkerson -- a 6-9 forward who averaged 20.8 points in UT's last four games last season -- should finish in the top two of the SEC for the third time in four years and compete for what would be the program's first trip to the Final Four.

Kentucky, per usual, is basically starting from scratch after the top six scorers from last season's team either entered the NBA Draft or exhausted their eligibility. Only one player, Keion Brooks, is back. And he only averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game. But there's no need to feel too sorry for John Calipari because, once again, he's enrolled the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, one that's highlighted by five-star guards BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke . So, sure, the Wildcats will be heavily reliant on first-year players, which sometimes makes the season a bit of a rollercoaster. But Kentucky will simply be able to out-talent much of its competition -- especially now that Olivier Sarr, a transfer from Wake Forest, has received a waiver from the SEC to play immediately. He'll provide a veteran presence in the frontcourt that otherwise would not exist.

It's possible the FBI investigation that preceded an NCAA investigation will someday damage Will Wade's program, and maybe even cost him his job. But so far it's just full-speed ahead for LSU, which continues to enroll heralded prospects, one after another, despite a scandal that's created headlines for years. The latest recruiting class is ranked sixth nationally and highlighted by five-star guard Cameron Thomas, who picked LSU after also visiting Auburn, NC State and UCLA. He'll fit in nicely with a returning core of Trendon Watford, Ja'Vonte Smart and Darius Days, each of whom averaged double-figures in points last season for a team that finished tied for second in the SEC.

Six of the top eight scorers from a Florida team that was disappointing, but still projected to make last season's NCAA Tournament, are back — most notably Keyontae Johnson, who is the CBS Sports Preseason SEC Player of the Year. So Mike White has the pieces necessary to keep his string of NCAA Tournament appearances alive despite the fact that Andrew Nembhard's decision to transfer to Gonzaga cost the program a starter who averaged 11.2 points and 5.6 assists in a team-high 33.2 minutes per game last season. If the Gators meet expectations, it'll likely be the result of former McDonald's All-Americans Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis performing like their status as five-star prospects coming out of high school suggests they should. Last season, neither met the hype. But if they have impressive breakthroughs as sophomores, Florida might be able to compete for the SEC regular-season title.

Four of the top six scorers from Nate Oats' first team at Alabama are back -- most notably Jaden Shackelford and John Petty, a pair of starters who combined to average 29.5 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for a team that was better than its 16-15 record suggested. Will the Crimson Tide miss Kira Lewis? Of course. He was a super-productive two-year point guard who now projects as a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and there's no great way to replace somebody like him. But former five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly is eligible after sitting out last season following a transfer from Villanova . So Alabama will once again have talent in the backcourt. And Jordan Bruner, a grad-transfer from Yale, will serve as a nice frontcourt addition. He averaged 10.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in the Ivy League last season.

Up until the last minute, Isaiah Joe, Arkansas' sharp-shooting guard, insisted he was returning to school for at least one more season of college basketball. But then, in mid-August, Joe reversed course and entered the 2020 NBA Draft, for better or worse, which knocked the Razorbacks out of the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 because they'll now be without six of the top seven scorers from last season's team that finished 47th at KenPom. That's not ideal. But don't be surprised if Arkansas still competes for a trip to the NCAA Tournament in its second season under Eric Musselman because the recruiting class, bolstered by the transfer market, is ranked eighth nationally. Freshmen Moses Moody and KK Robinson are both four-star prospects who should make immediate impacts. But it's transfers like Justin Smith (Indiana), Vance Jackson (New Mexico) and Jalen Tate (Northern Kentucky) -- each of whom has already averaged double-digit points at the Division I level -- who should be the key to keeping the Razorbacks in the top half of the SEC.

All five starters from last season's team that began the season with 15 straight wins, and finished tied for second in the SEC, are gone -- most notably Isaac Okoro, the one-and-done wing who is now expected to be selected in the lottery of the 2020 NBA Draft. So it's reasonable to assume Auburn will slide in the league standings after finishing in the top four of the SEC in three straight seasons. But Bruce Pearl still has a chance to land in the top half of the league, and compete for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, thanks to a top-10 recruiting class headlined by five-star point guard Sharife Cooper, who pledged to Auburn over Kentucky in September 2019. The ball will be in his hands from Day One. And his most talented teammate might end up being JT Thor, a four-star forward who committed to Auburn in April to give the Tigers a frontcourt piece who should help offset the loss of Austin Wiley.

South Carolina
Frank Martin has not returned South Carolina to the NCAA Tournament since guiding the Gamecocks to the Final Four in 2017. But this season's team should give him his best opportunity to do exactly that considering three of the top four scorers from last season's team are back, among them AJ Lawson, a 6-6 guard who averaged 13.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 29.1 minutes per game. In fact, eight of the 10 players who averaged at least 11.5 minutes per game last season remain in the program. So the Gamecocks will be one of the most experienced teams in the SEC. And if they can improve enough offensively, finishing in the top half of the league standings while earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is very much a possibility.

Ole Miss
Ole Miss was the SEC's biggest surprise in Kermit Davis' first season in Oxford when the Rebels finished tied for sixth in the league standings despite being picked last. That's why Davis won SEC Coach of the Year in 2018-19. But Ole Miss took a step back last season, lost more than it won, and generally struggled, especially on offense. So Davis is in need of a bounce-back season. And if he gets it, it'll likely be tied to a breakout year from Devontae Shuler, a former grassroots teammate of NBA stars Zion Williamson and Ja Morant who averaged 11.7 points per game last season while shooting 35.5% from 3-point range.
Missouri underachieved last season relative to preseason expectations. But it should be noted that two of the top four scorers -- Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon -- combined to miss 21 games because of injuries, which served as a big obstacle for Cuonzo Martin 's Tigers. The good news is that the top seven scorers from that team are back, including three double-digit scorers. And everybody is healthy right now. So Missouri will be more experienced than most and theoretically better. But jumping into the top half of the SEC standings still seems unlikely given the talent throughout the rest of the league.

Texas A&M
Anybody doubting that Buzz Williams will eventually turn Texas A&M into a program that consistently competes for trips to the NCAA Tournament didn't pay attention to what he previously did at Virginia Tech. He'll get this job done. But, just like it took time in the ACC, it will take time in the SEC too. His Aggies actually overachieved last season, which is why Williams won SEC Coach of the Year honors in his first season in the conference. But two of the top three scorers from that team are gone. So Texas A&M will have to overachieve again, this time behind Savion Flagg, the team's leading returning scorer, to match the 10-8 league mark it recorded last season.

Miss. State
Ben Howland 's Bulldogs finished 11-7 in the SEC last season, and 48th at KenPom, meaning they entered the SEC Tournament with a reasonable chance to make the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Getting there this season, though, seems like an unlikely proposition because the top four scorers from that team are gone -- including Reggie Perry , Robert Woodard and Nick Weatherspoon , all of whom entered the NBA Draft early. That's just a killer for a program like Mississippi State. So Howland will spend this season rebuilding more than reloading. It's why the Bulldogs, despite the enrollment of a promising freshman point guard named Deivon Smith, are expected to finish outside of the top seven of the SEC for the first time since 2017.

Projected top-five pick Anthony Edwards didn't really do anything to damage his NBA stock at Georgia last season -- but he also didn't really help Georgia accomplish much. The Bulldogs finished 16-16 overall, 5-13 in the SEC. And while I personally believe they'll be better this season, the odds of them being good enough to compete for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament seems unlikely considering Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds, the only two players who averaged more than 9.0 points per game last season, are both gone. Keep in mind, it took Tom Crean four years to win an NCAA Tournament game at Marquette, then four years to win one at Indiana. Such will likely be the case at Georgia too. So though this season might be another rough one for the Bulldogs, fans can take solace in the fact that their coach has never not (eventually) gotten things rolling even if it has always taken Crean a few years to establish what soon becomes a consistent winner.

The highlight of last season at Vanderbilt was the Commodores breaking what was a 28-game losing streak in games against SEC opponents. But what immediately followed was another seven straight losses to SEC teams, which led to Vanderbilt finishing 3-15 in the league. That was the worst record in the SEC by two games. And though the return of Scotty Pippen Jr., and the addition of Notre Dame transfer D.J. Harvey, are both good things, the truth is that anything other than the Commodores finishing 14th in the SEC for the third straight year would be a somewhat surprising development.


Century Club

Predicted Order of Finish
1. Kentucky
Yes, the Wildcats lost a lot, and no, that isn’t anything new. The Wildcats reloaded with the top recruiting class in the SI All-America team rankings, headlined by what could potentially be the best wing combination in college basketball in Boston and Clarke, both of whom are projected NBA lottery picks following the season. Both are deadly scorers with length and size who bring the same intensity on the defensive end. That could spell doom for opposing backcourts and should ignite a ferocious defensive squad for Calipari. In the paint, Kentucky boasts arguably the top transfer of the spring in Olivier Sarr, paired with all-everything big Isaiah Jackson and a combination of Davion Mintz and Devin Askew at the point is more than capable. Add in depth and length on the bench and the Wildcats are primed to win the league for the fifth time in the last seven years.
2. Tennessee
Rick Barnes has it all: Four of his top five scorers back, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Yves Pons) and a top-three recruiting class, consisting of point guard Jaden Springer, who won a national title at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), and Keon Johnson, one of the top scorers in the 2020 class. Add in, arguably, the top power forward in the SEC in John Fulkerson and the Vols have more than enough to push the Wildcats at the top.
3. LSU
The Tigers boast one of the most talented rosters in the SEC, and with double-figure scorers like Smart running the show and Trendon Watford and Darius Days back, LSU is more than capable of challenging for the league crown this season. Will Wade managed to reel in a top-10 recruiting class, headlined by lethal scoring guard Cameron Thomas. Also, the Tigers got three key transfers—Shareef O’Neal (UCLA), Bryan Penn-Johnson (Washington) and Josh LeBlanc (Georgetown)—who are capable of producing immediately.
4. Florida
Johnson is the engine for the Gators, pumping in 14 points a game last season while shooting 54% from the field. The Gators have capable talent and leadership surrounding him this season and that should make all the difference. Mike White will look to junior transfers Tyree Appleby and Anthony Duriji to help Johnson lead, and Scottie Lewis could be on the brink of a breakout season. Nembhard transferring to Gonzaga will give Tre Mann the keys to the show, and Noah Locke will also have an expanded role for the talented Gators.
5. Arkansas
It’s never a good thing to lose six of your top seven scorers from a team that finished 20–12 the previous season, but the Razorbacks’ combination of key transfers and a top-10 recruiting class should be able to compete in the SEC this season. Justin Smith averaged 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds a game last season at Indiana and Vance Jackson had multiple 20-point games at New Mexico last season. They join Desi Sills, who proved his worth last season when Isaiah Joe was sidelined with an injury, and freshman sharpshooter Moses Moody.
6. Alabama
The Crimson Tide return one of the best duos in the country in John Petty Jr. and Jaden Shackelford, and Jahvon Quinerly, a former five-star recruit, is eligible after sitting out last season. That should help ease the loss of Kira Lewis, who was a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Also, Yale grad transfer Jordan Bruner will be a key addition after pumping in 10.9 points and 9.2 rebounds last season. The biggest question for Alabama is: Will it stop anyone from scoring? Last season, the Tide allowed a cringe-worthy 79 points a game.
7. South Carolina
Frank Martin returns a core of capable players, highlighted by A.J. Lawson, who averaged 13.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season. Lawson is one of three top scorers who are returning, including Jermaine Couisnard, who scored 12.1 points a game as a freshman. Also, after not living up to the hype at North Carolina, transfer Seventh Woods is back home and eligible this season.
8. Auburn
The Tigers lost a lot, there’s no way around it; all five starters, including NBA lottery pick Isaac Okoro, are gone. The bright side for Bruce Pearl is that playmaker extraordinaire Cooper will be running the show. Cooper has a long history of dominating and winning against elite competition when he’s given the keys. He’ll have help from a trio of sophomores in Jaylin Franklin, Devan Cambridge and Allen Flanigan, and fellow freshman stars like J.T. Thor to feed the ball to. When Cooper and Co. find their chemistry, they’ll be capable of more than just making noise.
9. Texas A&M
SEC Coach of the Year Buzz Williams is back with a solid stable of players who could overachieve this season. Senior Savion Flagg has averaged double figures for two straight seasons and will have his most important role this season. The Aggies will need early contributions from freshman scoring guard Jaxson Robinson and point guard Hassan Diarra plus grad-transfer Kevin Marfo, who led the country in rebounding last season (14 per game) at Quinnipiac. The Aggies have the pieces to make a run in the SEC.
10. Ole Miss
The Rebels started strong last season but took a steep dropoff to finish things out. The good news? They return four of their top six scorers, including double-figure scorers Devontae Shuler and K.J. Buffen. Grad transfers Romello White and Dimencio Vaughn will be ready to produce from Day 1. Vaughn averaged 14.8 points at Rider and White snagged 8.8 rebounds at Arizona State last season. Kermit Davis has his work cut out for him as he tries to achieve balance and consistency.
11. Missouri
The best news for the Tigers is that they’re finally healthy, which means Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon are back and ready to roll. That’s great news for Cuonzo Martin’s crew, which returns 88% of its scoring from last season. Martin has a stable full of experience and a capable grad transfer in Drew Bugg—all ingredients for an overachieving team.
12. Georgia
Hard not to start with the obvious here, but No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Edwards is gone, as are four of the team’s top six scorers. Now, Tom Crean will rely heavily on Sahvir Wheeler, Tye Fagan, Christian Brown and Jaykwon Walton, plus a whopping eight new players on the roster. Virginia Tech transfer P.J. Horne will need to produce immediately, but with no one over 6-foot-9 on the roster, all signs point to an uphill battle for the Dawgs this season.
13. Mississippi State
Ben Howland is down three starters, including Co-SEC Player of the Year Reggie Perry, plus four other players have transferred from last year’s team. Now, the Bulldogs will rely heavily on a talented recruiting class headlined by elite point guard Deivon Smith, as well as transfers Jalen Johnson and Javian Davis. Chemistry could take time; the question is, how much damage can they do when they gel?
14. Vanderbilt
The Commodores have only three league wins in the last two seasons, and with Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee gone, Jerry Stackhouse will need talented transfers D.J. Harvey and Isaac McBride to put up points right away. Scotty Pippen, Jr. and Maxwell Evans are capable leaders that will have to take leaps in the scoring department for the Commodores, and Dylan Disu and Clevon Brown will need to step up in the post. Lots of “ifs” that will have to lean toward coming true quickly if they want to move in a positive direction in the league this season.


Century Club
This reminds me of us talking about Stackhouse and him blaming Trump supporters on Vandy's season. I guess all of these guys are pro-Trump, and racist, as he alleged.

No. Vandy just sucks and they knew it was coming.
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