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First Men’s Basketball Top 25 SEC Heavy

The preseason AP Top 25 dropped on Monday, and the SEC has some heavy representation in the poll including Kentucky, Bama and more. North Carolina led the way at the No. 1 spot, followed by Gonzaga, Houston, Kentucky and Kansas to round out the top five.

No. 4 Kentucky

The Kentucky Wildcats enter the preseason poll as the highest-ranked team in the SEC. An impressive 26-7 regular season last year saw them enter the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed but ultimately fall to No. 15 Saint Peter’s in one of the biggest upsets in basketball history. This is the 11th time Kentucky has been ranked inside the preseason top 5 during John Calipari’s tenure.



The Wildcats return the reigning national player of the year, Oscar Tshiebwe, who led the team in scoring and rebounding. While he did undergo a minor knee operation, it is expected he will be ready for the team’s regular season-opener in November.

Kentucky also has two top 20 recruits according to the ESPN 100 with the commitments of Chris Livingston and Cason Wallace. This should set up the Wildcats who will have to replace big production out of TyTy Washington and Keion Brooks who were drafted and transferred.

No. 10 Arkansas

The Razorbacks had a successful season last year, with a 25-8 record heading into March. Arkansas only lost back-to-back games twice all season and advanced to the Elite 8 in the tournament.


The Razorbacks lost their top four scorers, and the only players who averaged 10-plus points. Most notably, they will have to fill the shoes of third-team All-American and first-team All-SEC JD Notae. He led the team with 18.3 PPG.

Arkansas does, however, have three top-15 recruits in the ESPN 100. Shooting guard Nick Smith, the No. 3 recruit in the country, will have to step up for the Razorbacks as three of those top scorers were guards.

No. 11 Tennessee

The Volunteers carry their momentum on the football field into the college basketball rankings. Tennessee is the third SEC team ranked in the top 11.

Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Volunteers had high hopes, but those hopes were crushed in the Round of 32 by the Michigan Wolverines last year.

This year could be different for Tennessee, it retains four of its top five leading scorers, who are set to return with another year of experience under their belts. The Volunteers also gained young talent with the addition of the No. 13 recruit in the nation, Julian Phillips.

Tennessee plays eight games against ranked opponents.

No. 15 Auburn

The Tigers entered postseason play with a 27-4 record.


The Tigers do have some production to replace. They lost the dynamic duo of Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith, to the draft. With the addition of transfer Johni Broome and recruit Yohan Traore, Auburn is able to close some of the gaps.

Wendell Green Jr. and K.D. Johnson will be the returning starts for the Tigers and will pick up big roles.

No. 20 Alabama

Wrapping up the SEC’s Top 25 representatives is Alabama.

Big talent returns for Alabama, specifically with Jahvon Quinerly coming back for his senior year.

Joining the team this year will be Brandon Miller, the No. 9 recruit in the country. Additionally, it adds transfers Mark Sears and Dom Welch.

Alabama has six preseason Top 25 teams looming in the distance, including three top five teams. The Crimson Tide will certainly have their work cut out for them if they hope to compete in the SEC.

About Matt Quartararo

Matt is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports media and is also completing a sports management certificate. Starting in the Fall 2023 semester, Matt has served as a sports coordinator with WRUF. He also participates in sports broadcasting, providing play-by-play for a variety of Gators sports.

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