BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Tennessee men’s basketeball team was predicted to win its second straight Southeastern Conference title in a voting by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. Each SEC school selected two media members that cover their team and six additional writers from across the nation were selected by the conference office to form the 30-member voting panel.
The Vols are hoping to build on a school record 31 wins and an appearance in the Sweet 16, and the media panel voted it would do so by a large margin. They earned 23 first-place votes, topping Florida’s five votes and Kentucky’s two as the SEC Champion. Tennessee returns six letterwinners, including starters Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism.
Tennessee was the media’s favorite to win the East with 172 total points (23 first-place votes), ahead of second-place Florida’s 143 points (five first-place votes).
Florida returns four starters, including seven of its top eight scorers, from last year’s 24-win team. Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Georgia round out the top six.
In the West, Alabama’s 151 total points (11 first-place votes) were slightly ahead of LSU’s 147 points (11 first-place votes). Ole Miss received eight first-place votes and were picked third with 136 points. Alabama returns a total of nine letterwinners from last year’s squad. LSU returns 10 lettermen and a total of five starters for new head coach Trent Johnson while Ole Miss brings back three starters from last year’s team that advanced to the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. Mississippi State, Auburn and Arkansas round out the top six in the West.
Tennessee junior forward Tyler Smith was picked to be the Men’s Basketball Player of the Year with 17 votes nearly doubling second-place finisher, Kentucky sophomore Patrick Patterson’s nine votes. South Carolina junior guard Devan Downey received two votes while LSU senior guard Marcus Thornton and Florida sophomore guard/forward Nick Calathes each garnered one vote.
Smith, Patterson, Downey and Calathes were joined on the All-SEC First Team by Vanderbilt sophomore center A.J. Ogilvy.