SEC Media Picks Tide Third In West

John Calipari steps into a new job as head basketball coach at Kentucky and--surprise, surprise!--finds himself in charge of the favorite to win this year's Southeastern Conference championship.

Kentucky was predicted to win the 2010 Southeastern Conference men's basketball championship in a voting by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. Each SEC school selected media members that cover their team and additional writers from across the nation were selected by the conference office to form the 25-member voting panel.

That Kentucky was picked to win the title was not surprising.

That Alabama, which also has a new head coach this year in Anthony Grant, was picked to finish third in the SEC Western Division was almost shocking. Bama did not have a good year last season (fourth in the SEC West) and lost its top scorer in Alonzo Gee.

The Wildcats are coming off a 22-14 season and an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. They earned 20 first-place votes, topping Mississippi State which earned three votes and Tennessee which had two votes as SEC Champion. Kentucky returns three starters, including Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson and Ramon Harris while adding one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.

Kentucky was the media's favorite to win the East with 148 total points (23 first-place votes), ahead of second-place Tennessee's 117 points (two first-place votes). Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia round out the top six.

In the West, Mississippi State's 144 total points (22 first-place votes) were ahead of Ole Miss' 120 points (two first-place votes). Alabama was picked third with 84 points. LSU, Arkansas and Auburn round out the top six in the West.

Kentucky junior Patrick Patterson was the choice of the media for SEC Men's Basketball Player of the Year with 11 votes. Kentucky freshman John Wall (six votes), Mississippi State senior Jarvis Varnado (three votes), South Carolina senior Devan Downey (three votes) and Tennessee senior Tyler Smith (two votes) also received votes in the Player of the Year voting.

Patterson, Downey, Varnado and Smith were joined on the All-SEC First Team by Ole Miss sophomore Terrico White.

Wall led All-SEC Second Team honors and was joined by LSU's Tasmin Mitchell, Vanderbilt's A.J. Ogilvy, Ole Miss' Chris Warren and Auburn's DeWayne Reed.

Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Each media member also voted for one team as an overall conference champion and a five-player All-SEC Team.

The 2009-10 SEC Media Preseason Poll tips off SEC Basketball Media Day, October 22 at the Birmingham Marriott in Alabama. The 2009-10 season begins November 13, with conference play set to begin January 9. The 2010 SEC Tournament will be held March 11-14 at the Sommet Center in Nashville.

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