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The Spot-Ons And Big Misses From The SEC Media’s Preseason Basketball Predictions

Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

Basketball is a finicky sport. Just when you think you have a grasp on the action and who the best teams are, everything changes. If you want proof of this, look no further than the 2017-18 SEC regular season to know that “Down here, it just means more”.

From unexpected champions, to teams winning less than a third of their conference matchups, the SEC brings it all to the table. Looking back on the projections for the season, some were good, some were almost right, and some were just straight-up atrocities.

Nailed It

Some of the projections from the beginning of the year were nearly spot on. The SEC writers projected that Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and LSU would all be in the bottom five of the conference. LSU finished 10th, USC 11th, Georgia 12th, and Vanderbilt finished in the fabled 13th spot, claiming the ranking from Tennessee.

Out of 14 teams, the SEC projections got a single team’s record correct. Mississippi State managed to be projected 9-9 and finish the season 9-9. Outstanding work coming out of “Starkvegas.”

In the preseason, the SEC writers predicted that Yante Maten, Michael Porter Jr. or Robert Williams would win Player of the Year and, despite Georgia finishing with a sub-.500 record, Maten was named the AP’s Player of the Year. Tennessee’s Grant Williams won the honor in the Coaches Poll.

Finally, the SEC writers knew that the SEC can be summed up by the words “crazy” or “chaotic,” and they certainly hit the nail on the head with that prediction.

Close, But No Cigar

The writers projected that there would be co-regular season SEC Champions. Granted, they picked the two most obvious teams to be those champions: Kentucky (6th in the SEC) and Florida (3rd). Instead, Tennessee and Auburn claimed the regular season title, both winning 13 conference games, one higher than the projected champions were predicted to win.

On the other end of the spectrum, the writers knew there would be one atrocious team in the conference that could only manage a 5-13 SEC record. Their projection was LSU, a team that managed a 10th place ranking. Instead, Ole Miss took that spot, coming in dead last and winning five SEC games.

Missouri was supposed to be a 9-9 team this year, despite being led by the projected conference Player of the Year Porter. Instead, Porter got injured and the Tigers managed to finish 5th, winning 10 games.

In terms of individual awards, Collin Sexton was predicted to be on the All-SEC 2nd Team, but finished the year on the 1st Team alongside Maten, Williams (unanimous decisions), Bryce Brown, and Daryl Macon.

Juuuuust A Bit Outside

The SEC is enamored with Kentucky and its prolonged dominance at the conference and national levels. As such, it was projected to go 12-6 on the way to a shared regular season championship. Instead, the Wildcats sputtered and clawed their way to 10 wins and tied for fourth in the conference.

The most glaring mistake made by the writers was the projection of Tennessee to finish 13th in the SEC with a 7-11 record. The people of Knoxville were furious, projecting the Vols to at least finish in the top half of the conference and saying that this year needed to be a year for dancing. For once, the hometown fans outsmarted the writers and Tennessee went 13-5 on the way to a co-regular season championship.

From preseason to the end of the regular season, the All-SEC team is almost unrecognizable. There are only two players who made that list: Maten and Sexton (SEC Newcomer of the Year). Everybody else disappeared from the preseason list, showing just how chaotic the SEC was this year.

No love was given to any Volunteers in the preseason by the writers. According to the coaches in the SEC, Williams was the best player on the court all season and received their Player of the Year nod. Williams, Admiral Schofield, and Lamonte Turner all received various awards from the coaches in the league. Best of all, the AP and coaches both voted Vols coach Rick Barnes as Coach of the Year, after exceeding preseason expectations.

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