During a recent trip to Charlotte for SEC Tipoff 2015, Scout.com caught up with several college basketball analysts to get their takes on the upcoming season in the Southeastern Conference.
Included in the panel: Joe Dean Jr., SEC Network basketball analyst and athletics director at Birmingham-Southern; Sean Farnham, ESPN college basketball analyst; and Seth Greenberg, ESPN college basketball analyst.
CLICK HERE for yesterday’s roundtable discussion about the impact the SEC Network will have on basketball in the conference and how football’s success can trickle down to the hardwood.
TODAY’S TOPIC: Goodwill from March runs
“I think it helps with the perception of your conference. Does it help you within the eyes of the selection committee? I’m the wrong guy to ask that. But, yeah, I think what it does is you’re building equity in your league. You’re changing the perception. Look, the league’s going to be better. If Georgia didn’t struggle non-conference, they probably would’ve been in the tournament. LSU this year, Arkansas this year, Ole Miss this year, I mean they could get six teams in the tournament this year. It’s a talented conference with great venues, very good coaches and when you’re successful like anywhere else, passionate fans and some good traditions.
“The SEC is going to be a very good basketball conference. It’s a little bit like what went on when I went to Virginia Tech to another level. A university has to decide whether it wants to invest in a basketball team or a basketball program. Right now the SEC institutions are deciding they want to have basketball programs. They’re investing in facilities. They’re investing in coaches. They’re conducting their business in a manner that’s saying they’re serious about their programs.”
“I think where the carryover comes even more so than just the Florida-Kentucky side of things is the fact that Arkansas, if they finished a little bit better, they’re in the NCAA Tournament. I think Tennessee making their run when a couple of weeks before people were wondering if they’d even get in the NCAA Tournament, and they nearly make the Elite Eight, where they would’ve faced Kentucky. Then look at Georgia, they were probably one win away from making the NCAA Tournament. That’s what you can take away coming into this year.
“You can close your eyes and say the top two teams in the conference from a national perspective are Florida and Kentucky or Kentucky and Florida. Fine. But for this conference to be looked at in a higher realm than it has in recent years, you have to teams behind them that are also looked at as locked NCAA Tournament teams heading into this season. I think this year, outside of those top two, you have at least three teams that fit that mold. Look at Arkansas, Georgia and of course LSU. You can mix them up any way you want to mix them up. And is there a possibility one of them can even move up to that two spot? I think there is.
“But that’s the great thing about the conference heading into this year – you come into the season thinking there are five teams that should be locks for the NCAA Tournament. Now the question becomes can you pull a sixth team up with you? Can a sixth team play well enough in November and December, get enough quality wins there that even if they get beat up in the league process they still make their way into the tournament? I think that’s where the SEC’s at right now, and I think that’s where you’re going to see growth this season.”
Joe Dean Jr.
“I think obviously reputation is a part of any selection committee because human nature takes over and you know reputations of leagues, schools and traditional powers, but every year stands on its own. This year I think we’ve got six or seven legitimate potential NCAA Tournament teams. They still have to go out and perform on the court and win some good non-conference games and do well in league play to put themselves in position to make the tournament. But the league is getting better, getting stronger. We’ve just kind of gone through a little lull period the last two or three years. I see it moving back up.”