There will be more hype for SEC basketball going into this season than any in recent memory. Tournament success and another wave of talent will do that.
The Cats Illustrated staff predicts how the league will shake out in today's round table.
Surveying the SEC basketball landscape, who will be Kentucky's biggest competition in the league race and what team do you believe will win the conference regular season championship?
T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Kentucky is still the favorite to win the conference, but the Cats will trip up on the road. Missouri, Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee should be tournament teams. Ole Miss, Auburn and South Carolina should be competitive. It's going to be a fun year. UK's biggest competition will be Missouri. The Tigers will have the second most NBA talent in the conference and Cuonzo Martin has provided that fan base a shot in the arm. Those games are going to be really entertaining.
Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: Alabama should be a good challenge, and Missouri is intriguing with their recruiting haul, but I see it coming down to Kentucky and Florida once again. If Egbunu comes back 100 percent healthy for the Gators, they'll be really tough to beat. I just hope the SEC lives up to the hype this year.
Justin Rowland, Publisher: Florida is my pick to win the SEC regular season championship although I would give Kentucky and Missouri the greater likelihood of winning the conference tournament title because their youth should be peaking and the tournament being in St. Louis will give a home court advantage to those two programs. Florida's injuries are a variable that's tough to account for but I think they have the highest floor of any team in the conference. The league champ could have five losses this year. I would pick Kentucky to finish second in the league in the regular season although Texas A&M will have a very good year with that strong frontcourt. Missouri is talented but I'll wait and see on them.