The first college basketball rankings for the 2015-16 season were unveiled on Monday, as the Associated Press put out their preseason top 25.
As expected, Kentucky -- who received 10 first place votes -- was the highest ranked SEC team coming in at No. 2. North Carolina was first with Maryland, Kansas, and Duke rounding out three through five.
In a year where the SEC is expected to take a big leap overall and put more teams in the tournament, the first poll of the season didn't reflect those high expectations.
Vanderbilt (18) and LSU (21) were the only other SEC teams ranked in the poll.
The SEC has been average at best over the last few seasons, with Kentucky the only program keeping the league relevant in college basketball as a whole. The league did take a step forward last season putting five teams into the tournament.
And with four new quality coaches added to the mix, that number has a chance to increase in the next couple of years. Ben Howland (MSU), Avery Johnson (Alabama), Rick Barnes (Tennessee), and Mike White (Florida) all enter with high expectations at their respective schools.
While none of those teams received votes in the AP poll, all four should field squads that are capable of competing with every team in the league over the next few seasons.
MSU has a chance to knock off a few teams they shouldn't, the biggest reason for that being highly-touted five-star guard Malik Newman. Newman instantly takes State from bottom-of-the-barrel to a dark-horse team in the mediocre SEC.
We may see multiple SEC teams benefit from star freshmen. Along with Newman, Ben Simmons from LSU is expected to possess one of the better offensive skill sets not only in the SEC but in college basketball. Simmons and Newman are both projected to go top 15 in the 2016 NBA draft, and Simmons could be the first pick.
I think 21 is about right for the Tigers to start off. One team I was surprised to see left out of the rankings was Texas A&M. The Aggies did receive votes and were the only SEC team to do so. I don't think it will be long before you see them climb into the top 25.
The SEC is a wide open league. It's safe to peg Kentucky the conference champion, but outside of that anything is a possibility and there are a handful of teams capable of sneaking into the tournament.