While the SEC is the best football conference in the country, the basketball programs in the SEC have fallen drastically behind. Tonight’s game between the Florida Gators and the Kentucky Wildcats is a matchup between the two best teams in the weakest power conference in college basketball. Both Florida and Kentucky have made solid cases for high seeds in the NCAA tournament, but no other teams have stepped up to the title of even third-best in the conference.
That is why the rest of the SEC should hope for a Kentucky win over Florida tonight. Florida has dominated the conference, embarrassing other conference teams to the point of not allowing four to score more than 55 points against the Gators. The Gators have a solid case for a no. 1 seed come March, while the Wildcats are starting to get back to the Kentucky teams of old, winning 11 of their last 13 games.
For the rest of the conference, solid tournament-caliber teams like Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have struggled through mediocre seasons. Kentucky and Florida are so far above the rest of the conference that the third- and fourth-best teams are Ole Miss and Georgia, which are a combined 29-18 overall compared to Florida and Kentucky’s combined records of 41-7.
SEC basketball has taken a major backstage role to football down south as the SEC is the best conference in the country. Teams have struggled to compete against football, and even a major program like Billy Donovan‘s Gators are constantly overshadowed by their football team and their poor record in 2013.
When all is said and done, a win by the Wildcats would put the rest of the league closer to the Gators in the standings, but the long-term problems still remain with SEC basketball. Until SEC football starts to lose its luster (which may be never), the basketball programs down south will continue to struggle, and the SEC will be consistently rated among the lowest RPI power conferences in the country.