- Jeff Goodman, ESPN Insider
Ranking the top three teams in the SEC heading into this season is fairly easy, but it's almost a guessing game after that. The league that is known for its pigskin prowess will have some powerhouse teams toward the top, but the majority of the conference took a step back from a year ago, when only three teams -- Florida, Missouri and Ole Miss -- made the NCAA tourney.
The conference power structure seems destined to change this season. Kentucky, following a disappointing 2012-13 campaign, loses lots of talent but replaces it with perhaps the best recruiting class of all time. And while Florida likely will remain at the very top of the conference, Ole Miss and Alabama, which last season finished second and third, respectively, are poised to fall in the league standings this season.
Here's a look at the 2013-14 Preseason Power Rankings for the SEC.
The million-dollar question is whether the 2013-14 edition of the Wildcats will be more like the national title squad two seasons ago or the one that earned a trip to the NIT last season. Just two holdovers remain from last season: talented 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein and combo forward Alex Poythress, who could wind up in a reserve role after averaging nearly 26 minutes per game as a freshman.
The incoming class ranks No. 1 in the nation and boasts five players ranked in ESPN.com's top 10: power forward Julius Randle (No. 3), point guard Andrew Harrison (No. 5), center Dakari Johnson (No. 7), small forward James Young (No. 8) and shooting guard Aaron Harrison (No. 9). It's a young group, and leadership and chemistry will likely determine whether another banner is hoisted to the rafters at Rupp.
Jeff Goodman examines where each SEC team will fall during the 2013-14 season. Kentucky tops the list despite making an unsuccessful NIT run last season.