Kentucky tops CBS Sports’ early SEC power rankings

It’s the middle of the summer and college basketball news isn’t quite as rampant as it will be in a month or two from now.

In the meantime, CBS Sports college basketball writer Matt Norlander compiled an early Southeastern Conference power rankings feature, and those are always fun to debate and think about.

Kentucky sits at the top of CBS Sports’ early SEC power rankings. (photo by Chris Reynolds)

Kentucky resides at the top of Norlander’s rankings, but he warns that Florida will compete with the Cats for the conference crown. UK, of course, has swept the SEC regular-season and postseason championships each of the past three years, but will feature its youngest team yet under head coach John Calipari.

Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel, who averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game last season, is UK’s top returner. The No. 1-ranked 2017 recruiting class is highlighted by guard Hamidou Diallo, who actually practiced with the team for the second half of the season in 2017.

“Kentucky will be crazy talented and fascinating,” Norlander wrote. “Biggest question is a familiar one: Will the Cats be effective from the 3-point line?”

The top half of Norlander’s early SEC power rankings include Kentucky at No. 1, followed by Florida (No. 2), Texas A&M (No. 3), Arkansas (No. 4), Alabama (No. 5), Vanderbilt (No. 6) and Missouri (No. 7).

By this ranking, Kentucky’s conference slate looks to be a doozy. The Wildcats will play four of the six teams trailing them in the top-half of the league twice each. In addition to home-and-away games against Florida, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Missouri, UK will play at Arkansas and host Alabama.

Norlander writers that seven NCAA Tournament bids are possible from the SEC this season. You can check out his entire writeup on each of the SEC’s 14 teams by clicking here.