SEC Basketball: Power rankings heading into the SEC season

A power ranking across the Southeastern Conference heading into the SEC schedule

The SEC season gets underway in just a few days
The SEC season gets underway in just a few days / Marc Weiszer/Athens Banner-Herald / USA
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SEC Basketball Power Rankings:
No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs

A discussion about Mississippi State has to begin with the fact that they have been missing their best player all year. Forward Tolu Smith has not played, but the preseason All-American pick is expected to return early in the SEC slate.

Even without Smith, the Bulldogs have shot out to an 11-2 record with their only two losses coming in back-to-back games at Georgia Tech and against Southern.

In Smith’s absence, Chris Jans’ team has put three forwards in the SEC’s top-12 in rebounding as Jimmy Bell, Jr., Cam Matthews, and DJ Jeffries have stepped up in the absence of their captain. Those efforts have helped MSU push to the third spot in the team rebounding rankings in the conference.

The Bulldogs are middle-of-the-pack in team scoring, but they get at least 5 points per game from 9 different contributors and 7 points per game from 6 players.

While not elite at anything, Mississippi State has not displayed much weakness in the 2023-2024 season, and when Tolu Smith returns, their biggest problem might be figuring out how to play so many good forwards adequate minutes.

If the Bulldogs can play .500 ball or better in SEC play, the NCAA Tournament will be within reach.