Back around Halloween we made some bold predictions on the outcome of the SEC basketball season. Let’s check in with how everyone is doing thus far.
The first question up for grabs in the pre-SEC predictions was player of the year. The question posed was can your respective star (Patterson or Smith) win POY in the SEC. TGC didn’t like Smith’s chances but didn’t pick a clear favorite, 2SL went with Nick Calathes or Jody Meeks, SmoothRon liked Pat’s chances but also liked Calathes, and BobWicket was all over Meeks for POY. How has it turned out? Well Meeks leads the league in scoring at 24.7 a game but some poor performances as of late could knock him out of POY standing. Calathes has played well but some other players have outperformed on a consistant basis (but don’t count him out). Marcus Thornton down at LSU has played well and helped his team to win the SEC regular season (plus he runs a great chain of convenience stores). Patterson is fourth in the league in scoring, third in rebounding, and fourth in blocked shots. He would be a solid pick. Someone that wasn’t mentioned by the panel is Devan Downey. With 20+ points, four and a half assists, and 3 steals per game Downey did a lot with a little at South Carolina this year. He could be a dark horse for POY when it is decided.
The next query to the panel was who will take pressure off the main guy at your school. 2SL missed by a mile in picking Woolridge out of UT. Although his flow skills are tight, Ronaldo didn’t contribute like 2SL expected this year. SmoothRon went with the trio of Galloway, Liggins, and Miller for UK (along with transfer Harrelson). KG, Liggins, and Darius all saw time for UK and for the most part all contributed, but Liggins has been seen less and less as the year goes on. Miller probably has done the most for them as late by putting the ball in the basket on a more consistent basis. TGC went with Scotty Hopson and when he’s played well UT has played well so that’s a pretty good pick. BobWicket went with Meeks as his primary but his pick of Harrelson didn’t work out as much as UK fans had hoped after watching the Blue-White scrimmage. Also, it’s incredible that SmoothRon didn’t pick Big B for UT.
2SL thought Bruce would change things up and become more defensively minded this year and TGC looked for Chism to extend the defense allowing driving lanes for the guards and forwards this year. Both of these were right on cue as the UT team has played better half court defense this year, although the press hasn’t been as effective as years past. Also, TGC’s outlook on the offensive end was dead on. UT has played their best basketball when a guard or Wayne can knock down a three. When this happens UT opens up driving lanes for Smith, J.P. Prince, and Bobby Mayes. This is when the Vols get deadly.
SmoothRon expected Billy G to run more this year and the Cats have had an up and down style from time to time. This has been more due to them turning the ball over and getting into frantic up and down matches as opposed to designed up-tempo plans, but Billy has allowed them to run quite a bit this year. The stagnant half court offense the Cats have shown has also made transition offense very important for Kentucky. BobWicket expected a lot of post work from the Cats this year and that has been the style of half court offense that has been most effective for them. Giving the ball into the post to a guy who shoots greater than 60% from the field has been their best option all year, but it is one that has been underutilized on the whole and especially in tight games.
BobWicket was right that the Cats preseason ranking of fourth in the East would not hold up as they finished fourth. His 13-3 prediction looked good when they started off undefeated but quickly got ugly. Everyone was looking for a 3 horse race in the East and expected that winner to be the overall champion. The East turned into a four team race with South Carolina playing well all year and UT pulled the East championship out in the end. 2SL picked a West team to be dangerous but he went with the wrong one (Arkansas) and LSU pulled out the season championship.
Well, that brings us to the end of the regular season predictions. The SEC tournament kicks off this week and then the NCAA tourney will start up. We’ll check back in with all the predictions when the dust settles on tournament play.