SEC teams played in various Thanksgiving tournaments and generally did very well. The momentum and progression of this league over the past seven days reinforced the more optimistic and bullish forecasts for this season of SEC basketball. No more fever, no more tears -- not for a majority of league schools. Sunny skies might not be a constant outdoor reality in late November, but inside basketball gymnasiums, they are.
Let's get to the rankings:
1: TEXAS A&M -- One win over a cupcake (UT Rio Grande Valley) does nothing to change any views about this team. It belongs in the national top 10 and in line for a huge year if it can continue on its current pace and at its given level of play. The fun is only just beginning in College Station.
2: FLORIDA -- The Gators played no games this past week. We will see how this team handles "life returning to normal..." at least for a little while.
3: TENNESSEE -- The Vols, who were hot after the Battle 4 Atlantis, stayed hot by winning at Georgia Tech on Sunday. The more this team believes in itself, the easier it is to trust that this team can stay together. Rick Barnes is impressively integrating a young team. It will be exciting to watch the Vols in the coming weeks, to see if they can hold up under scrutiny and enter the start of SEC play as one of the foremost targets in the league.
4: KENTUCKY -- One decent win over Harvard in a one-game week means the Wildcats won't drop a place in the rankings... and that's about it. The main thing for the Wildcats is to challenge opponents when they try to attack the basket. Stopping dribble penetration is an emergent point of focus for Kentucky. The good news for Big Blue: Shot selection is very sound right now. The team is not falling in love with the three and is instead attacking first. Jump shots are not a primary goal. John Calipari has to love that.
5: ALABAMA -- The Tide won a close game at home and lost a close game at home. Their loss was to UCF, a contender in the AAC, so that's not an appalling result. Alabama knows it has to tighten up its game so that every contest is not a pure scramble. Avery Johnson's group gets to stay in place instead of declining in the rankings.
6: ARKANSAS -- This is the team which got hammered in the rankings, dropping three spots. Weird games happen, but it remains hard to understand how the Razorbacks -- who looked so good in Portland and at other points on their schedule this season -- could no-show in such a jawdropping way at Houston. A 26-point loss to what was a struggling opponent is one of those things that is best left untouched. No one should try to do a deep-dive analysis of how that game got away from Arkansas. It did... and now Mike Anderson needs to pick up the pieces.
7: GEORGIA -- Having beaten Saint Mary's a week before, Georgia backed up that win by triumphing at Marquette. Georgia is polishing its portfolio and offering an indication that it will be ready to handle the rigors of the deepest SEC in years. The Bulldogs held Marquette's frontcourt to eight total points this past Saturday. This is a defense which isn't as tough as Kirby Smart's gridiron 11, but the Dawgs are getting there.
8: MISSOURI -- The Tigers won at UCF, a very solid win and a highly encouraging sign for the team at a precarious point in the season. Why is Mizzou not higher? Because the teams above Cuanzo's collection of players are also winning. That's okay -- the SEC could be an eight-bid league this season. Missouri probably will be a bubble team in March. Maintaining this spot is hardly the worst possible scenario for the Tigers without Michael Porter.
9: LSU -- The Tigers didn't play this past week. There is not enough change or turmoil elsewhere in the conference to adjust their position.
10-12: SOUTH CAROLINA, AUBURN and MISSISSIPPI STATE -- South Carolina defeated UMass and Florida International while losing to Temple. Auburn beat Dayton and George Mason, two unremarkable wins, but results which are better on losses. Mississippi State barely escaped Dayton in an ugly game. These are not strong verdicts; they are merely reflections of the limited movement in the SEC after what was a very light week of play in the conference.
13: VANDERBILT -- The Commodores lost at home to Kansas State, continuing to fall short against Power 5 opponents and in situations where they can add high-value wins to their resume. It seems almost certain at this point that Vanderbilt will need a winning record in SEC play to have any shot at the NCAAs. Given how deep the league is, that won't be easy.
14 - OLE MISS -- The Rebels lost twice at home to South Dakota State and Virginia Tech. The latter loss is not all that bad -- not if Virginia Tech makes the NCAA Tournament -- but after the loss to SDSU, Ole Miss badly needed to beat the Hokies. This rates as a disaster for a team which won't have much margin for error once it gets into the SEC schedule.