With close to two months before the start of the 2015-16 college basketball season, the SEC looks to be shaping up to be one of the more exciting conferences in the country. Six SEC head coaches have taken a team to at least the Elite Eight before, and one SEC head coach was a former NBA Coach of the Year.
Kentucky brings in three five-star freshmen, Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe, as well as a talented four-star shooting guard in Charles Matthews. These four players alone should be enough for UK to once again be one of the top 25 teams in the country, but the Wildcats will also return Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis and Alex Poythress, making them a legitimate national title contender.
LSU boasts the No. 1 player in the 2015 recruiting rankings, power forward Ben Simmons, as well as five-star shooting guard Antonio Blakeney and four-star shooting guard Brandon Sampson. Losing their two best players from the previous season to the NBA, Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, these three freshman must have a major impact for the Tigers to be a legitimate SEC – and national title – contender.
Unlike Kentucky, however, LSU will bring back several of their key players from the previous season. Keith Hornsby, Tim Quarterman, Josh Gray, Jalyn Patterson, Brian Bridgewater and Darcy Malone all saw minutes in at least 25 games, and these players give the Tigers one of the most experienced squads in the country on top of their elite recruiting class.
Personally, I believe both of these two teams will drop a game or two they are expected to win in conference play. With talent slowly spreading throughout the league, teams like the Texas A&M Aggies, Vanderbilt Commodores and AuburnTigers all take significant steps forward. There are eight or nine teams in the SEC which could legitimately make a case for the 2015 NCAA tournament and three or four that could pull off major upsets.
Due to this, LSU and Kentucky’s expected dominance will be tested week-in and week-out, making the SEC one of the most fun to watch conferences in college basketball. Keep an eye on the SEC in 2015-16.