The SEC has long been known for its successful football programs. However, the conference seems to be making some strides toward being a more well-rounded, competitive basketball conference.
Programs like Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky have all shown the ability to compete with upper-echelon teams across the country. Other programs like Auburn, Texas A&M, and Missouri are all trending in the right direction as well.
The emphasis on creating an elite conference for college basketball seems to be in the works. The ultra-competitive SEC has seen its share of struggles but has also seen its share of success.
This year, two SEC teams currently sit inside the top five with several others poised to be ranked as well. It will certainly be interesting to see how many teams represent the SEC in this year's NCAA Tournament. That will be revealed in about a month.
Roll Tide Wire breaks down the latest SEC basketball power rankings.
South Carolina Gamecocks (8-15, 1-9)
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
One of the few bright spots surrounding the South Carolina men's basketball program is freshman GG Jackson. Outside of Jackson, the Gamecocks have struggled to establish any kind of rhythm this season. Last week, Lamont Paris' squad dropped two games to Mississippi State and Arkansas. Their hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament have been out of the realm of possibility even prior to conference play. It just has not been a good year for the Gamecocks.
LSU Tigers (12-11, 1-9)
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
The popular opinion was that LSU would have some growing pains after losing Will Wade and the majority of their team of their players to the transfer portal. That has been the case up to this point. Ryan McMahon's squad faired well in non-conference play but has struggled to win in conference play. Their lone win of the SEC came against Arkansas. The Tigers average just 67.1 points per game. Their offense has struggled throughout the entirety of conference play. There is not much hope that the Tigers can replenish their season at this point. It is a rebuilding process in Baton Rouge.
Ole Miss Rebels (9-14, 1-9)
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Ole Miss has been unable to sustain any form of success this season. They have won just one conference game and cannot seem to find the answer to their problems. Kermit Davis brought in a good recruiting class in the offseason. However, it has not come to fruition. The Rebels' woes have been plentiful over the years and it appears to be continuing for the foreseeable future.
Vanderbilt Commodores (11-12, 4-6)
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
A lot of people had their eyes on how Vanderbilt would respond following their 57-point loss to Alabama last week. The Commodores had been competitive in a majority of their conference games leading up to that. Jerry Stackhouse's squad returned home and knocked off a struggling Ole Miss team. Their chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament are out of the question in all likelihood unless they can win the conference tournament in early March.
Georgia Bulldogs (14-9, 4-6)
(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Georgia began conference play with a 3-1 record. However, the Bulldogs have since regressed. Mike White's squad has lost five of its last six games. Their losses have been lop-sided as well. Adjustments will have to be made sooner rather than later if Georgia intends on having any chance to reach the NCAA Tournament. They will have to lean on veteran guards Terry Roberts and Kario Oquendo to lead down the stretch.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-8, 3-7)
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State performed particularly well in non-conference play but has struggled for the majority of conference play. Chris Jans' squad lost seven of their first eight conference games. It was not smooth sailing for the team in maroon and white. However, the Bulldogs have since replenished their season for the time being as they currently hold a three-game win streak. Their schedule was tougher at the beginning than it will be the rest of the season. That is one positive takeaway for Bulldogs fans. It will be interesting to see how Mississippi State closes the regular season.
Florida Gators (13-10, 6-4)
Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK
Florida has been a team that has shown glimpses of hope but have also shown plenty of room for concern. Last week, the Gators knocked off Tennessee on their home floor. Then, they turned around and lost to Kentucky. The Gators' performances seem to have stemmed from the play of Colin Castleton. If he is not on his A-game, the team will struggle to score points. If he is, they are in for a good day most of the time. Florida will be tasked with facing Alabama this week in what will be a huge game for the Gators.
Missouri Tigers (17-6, 5-5)
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Missouri has played well over the course of the season against top-tier opponents. The Tigers have been able to take down Kentucky, Arkansas, and Illinois. Dennis Gates' squad suffered an 11-point loss on the road to Mississippi State this past weekend. Missouri was surging leading up to that as they held a three-game win streak. Missouri could bounce back down the stretch as the only ranked opponent left on the schedule is Tennessee.
Arkansas Razorbacks (16-7, 5-5)
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
It is tough to get a gauge on Arkansas this season. The Razorbacks seem to always play well in Bud Walton Arena but struggle on the road. Eric Musselman's squad has a great nucleus of freshmen leading the charge with some experienced bigs. I think that the Hogs' season changed drastically when Trevon Brazille suffered a season-ending injury along with Nick Smith Jr. being sidelined with a knee injury as well. The Razorbacks have shown improvement in recent weeks. They will have to face Kentucky twice along with Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Alabama.
Auburn Tigers (17-6, 7-3)
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Things have not come easy for Auburn away from home. Five of Auburn's six losses have come on the road. Auburn has shown flashes of potential on the offensive side of the ball, but it seems to always fade out. Last week, the Tigers scored just 43 points against Tennessee. Just a few days earlier, Auburn scored 93 against Georgia. The inconsistency has plagued Bruce Pearl's squad this season and will continue to if changes are not made soon.
Kentucky Wildcats (16-7, 7-3)
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
This is not the same Kentucky that most college basketball fans have been accustomed to seeing. However, the Wildcats have looked impressive as of late. John Calipari's squad seems to be gelling at the right time and playing with a lot of confidence.
Texas A&M Aggies (16-7, 8-2)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
The beginning of the season was tough for Texas A&M. The Aggies went 8-5 in non-conference play. To their credit, the Aggies have turned things around. Buzz Williams' squad seems to be trending in the right direction at the right time. Last week, the Aggies dropped their mid-week game against a feisty Arkansas squad. However, they made up for that loss with a 25-point victory over Georgia. The Aggies will likely need some resume-boosting wins down the road to increase their odds of reaching the NCAA Tournament. They will have the opportunity to do so as they still have Tennessee, Alabama, and Auburn remaining on their schedule. Those games will be pivotal down the stretch.
Tennessee Volunteers (19-4, 8-2)
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee has looked like a top-five team in the country for the majority of the season. Outside of conference losses to Kentucky and Florida, the Volunteers have made things look fairly easy. Their ability to defend at a high level separates them from most programs across the country. Rick Barnes' squad will not 'wow' anyone on the offensive end of the floor. Instead, they will look to be physical and keep it to a low-scoring affair. Tennessee has been battle-tested early and it will likely show by the time the conference tournament rolls around.
Alabama Crimson Tide (20-3, 10-0)
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
I do not think many people would question Alabama coming in at No. 1 in the conference power rankings. After all, Alabama bounced back from a unexpected loss in Norman to defeat Vanderbilt by 57 points. The Crimson Tide then went on the road and beat LSU by double-digits. Nate Oats just got a contract extension and has shown a lot of optimism towards the basketball program for years to come. If Alabama had not suffered their most recent non-conference loss to Oklahoma, its chances of being the No. 1 team in the country would have increased dramatically. Instead, Oats' squad sits at No. 3 in the country, but atop the SEC power rankings at No. 1.
Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire