Mississippi State will find a way again

Published 10:54 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

Well, things have gotten interesting on the basketball floor in the SEC. There have been some surprises that I have seen, especially Mississippi State’s upset of Arkansas. You also have had one of the best individual performances this week in Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks, who scored 54 in a win over Tennessee. It only tells me that the SEC has improved from last year.

Last week, we looked at the SEC East. Now, let’s take a look at how I think the SEC West will finish this year:

1. Mississippi State. Rick Stansbury always finds a way to survive in conference every year and be competitive for the SEC West. They’ve lost a couple of games they shouldn’t have in non-conference play, but State always finds a way to win some games it shouldn’t. They’ll probably be right up there at the end of the season even though I don’t know how they will do it. However, their reliance on the 3-point shot is a little troublesome for me.

2. LSU. The Tigers have lost their only two road games this season. Other than that, they have been stout at home. If LSU can steal just enough wins on the road, they should finish second.

3. Arkansas. The Razorbacks have the best NCAA résumé for any team in the SEC. They have beaten two top 10 teams. Not just top 40 or 25, but top 10. The only problem is that Arkansas’ only non-conference loss was to Missouri State. They also dropped an important home game to Mississippi State and lost to Ole Miss. The Razorbacks should still be good enough to finish third.

4. Alabama. As usual, the Tide is good at home, but they have trouble on the road. If they hold serve at home, Alabama should finish fourth. A win or two on the road and Alabama could move up. Mark Gottfried needs a good year to keep his job security.

5. Ole Miss. The Rebels will struggle without Chris Warren, who tore his ACL. Warren averaged 19.6 points per game. That is difficult for a team like Ole Miss to replace.

6. Auburn. The Tigers are having problems with consistency. They will get after you, and they will try to beat you in transition. But Auburn is a jump-shooting team. They will live or die by that. So far, Auburn has died by their poor shooting, and the losing streak against Florida and Kentucky is now 19 games.