Record: 23-8 overall, 13-5 SEC.
Top players: Jamal Murray (20.0 points, 5.1 rebounds); Tyler Ulis (16.6 points, 7.4 assists); Alex Poythress (10.0 points, 6.2 rebounds); Isaiah Briscoe (9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds).
Head coach: John Calipari (213-46 at Kentucky, 658-186 overall).
Comment: There isn't a team as talented as Kentucky in the SEC. But the Wildcats have had a few lapses throughout the season that could make them vulnerable to an upset. One thing Kentucky has working in its favor is the recent emergence of Skal Labissiere, who had been considered a disappointment. Labissiere, averaging 6.8 points and 3.2 rebounds this year, scored 11 points in a win over Florida and 18 points in a win over LSU last week.
SEC opener: vs. Mississippi-Alabama winner, 7 p.m., Friday.
Record: 24-7 overall, 13-5.
Top players: Jalen Jones (15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds); Danuel House (15.3 points, 4.8 rebounds); Tyler Davis (11.2 points, 6.0 rebounds); Alex Caruso (7.8 points, 5.1 assists).
Head coach: Billy Kennedy (95-68 at Texas A&M, 306-247 overall).
Comment: Texas A&M has a senior-laden team that has been fairly consistent minus a four-game losing stretch it since has overcome. The Aggies are riding a six-game winning streak, which includes victories over Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Texas A&M averages 7.8 3-pointers per game and has scored 76 points or more in four of its past five games. Caruso, in addition to his ability to distribute the ball, has a knack for being a disruptive force on defense, evidenced by his conference-leading 2.1 steals per game.
SEC opener: vs. Florida-Arkansas, winner, 1 p.m., Friday.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Record: 19-12 overall, 11-7.
Top players: Wade Baldwin IV (14.3 points, 5.1 assists); Damian Jones (14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds); Matthew Fisher-Davis (9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds); Luke Kornet (9.0 points, 7.2 rebounds).
Head coach: Kevin Stallings (332-218 at Vanderbilt, 455-281 overall).
Comment: In a tournament setting, it could be difficult for opposing teams to deal with big men Jones and Kornet, both of whom are 7-foot (Kornet is actually 7-1). Kornet can play the perimeter as a long-range shooter and inside as a post man. He also leads the SEC with three blocks per game. Up until the regular-season finale loss to Texas A&M, the Commodores had won four consecutive games, including a 12-point victory over Kentucky.
SEC opener: vs. Tennessee-Auburn winner, 3:30 p.m., Thursday.
Record: 24-7 overall, 11-7.
Top players: Michael Carrera (14.5 points, 7.7 rebounds); Sindarius Thornwell (13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds); Duane Notice (11.2 points); Mindaugas Kacinas (10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds).
Head coach: Frank Martin (69-61 at South Carolina, 186-115 overall).
Comment: The Gamecocks got off to a 15-0 start but have since posted a 9-7 record and are all of sudden on the NCAA Tournament bubble. South Carolina was able to close strong with a win over Arkansas to get the tournament's No. 3 seed and a double bye. Carrera, South Carolina's leading scorer, is dealing with an injury, however, and will be monitored throughout the week. He missed the Arkansas game after a 5-of-21 shooting performance in a loss to Georgia.
SEC opener: vs. Georgia-Mississippi State winner, 9:30 p.m., Friday.
Record: 18-13 overall, 11-7.
Top players: Ben Simmons (19.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists); Keith Hornsby (13.1 points); Tim Quarterman (11.1 points, 4.6 rebounds); Craig Victor II (12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds).
Head coach: Johnny Jones (79-50 at LSU, 284-212 overall).
Comment: There hasn't been a more disappointing team in the SEC this season than LSU. But given the fact it has the nation's best player, a good chance at a championship run is possible. To get that done, the Tigers will need to play much better defense than they have of late. In the past three games, LSU has allowed an average of 85.3 points per game. Simmons can't do everything for LSU as the surrounding cast will need to step up if a championship run is to occur.
SEC opener: vs. Tennessee/Auburn-Vanderbilt winner, 3:30 p.m., Friday.
COULD CAUSE MISCHIEF
Record: 17-12 overall, 10-8.
Top players: J.J. Frazier (16.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists); Yante Maten (15.9 points, 8.0 rebounds); Kenny Gaines (13.0 points, 3.1 rebounds); Charles Mann (10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds).
Head coach: Mark Fox (123-101 at Georgia, 246-144 overall).
Comment: Georgia all of a sudden has the makings of a dangerous team in the SEC Tournament. It's riding a three-game winning streak and is led by a veteran backcourt in Frazier, Gaines and Mann. But more importantly, Georgia is beginning to get scoring production from the fifth offensive spot, which it has lacked all year long. Derek Ogbeide, who was sidetracked with an early season shoulder injury, has scored eight or more points in three of his past six games.
SEC opener: vs. Mississippi State, 9:30 p.m., Thursday.
Record: 20-11 overall, 10-8.
Top players: Stefan Moody (23.1 points, 4.4 assists); Sebastian Saiz (12.0 points, 8.9 rebounds); Tomasz Gielo (9.9 points, 4.3 rebounds); Anthony Perez (7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds).
Head coach: Andy Kennedy (212-125 at Mississippi, 233-138 overall).
Comment: If Mississippi is to make a run in the SEC Tournament, it will be thanks to one of the conference's best guards in Moody. Moody can score from anywhere on the court and scored a whopping 43 points against Mississippi State on March 2. The Rebels can get dangerous behind the arc as they rank fourth in the SEC with a 33.9 3-point shooting percentage. Ole Miss is entering the tournament as a winner of four of its past five games.
SEC opener: vs. Alabama, 7 p.m., Thursday.
Record: 17-13 overall, 8-10.
Top players: Retin Obasohan (17.7 points, 3.9 rebounds); Shannon Hale (11.2 points, 3.0 rebounds); Justin Coleman (7.5 points, 3.4 assists); Riley Norris (7.5 points, 5.2 rebounds).
Head coach: Avery Johnson (17-13, all at Alabama).
Comment: In February, Alabama was surging toward what looked to be a definite NCAA Tournament bid thanks to a five-game winning streak with victories over Texas A&M, Florida and LSU. The Crimson Tide have since closed their regular season with losses in four of their final five games. For Alabama to get back on track, it will need a big second-round matchup from Obasohan, considering the Tide are the 14th-ranked team in the conference in scoring at 66.6 points per game.
SEC opener: vs. Mississippi, 7 p.m., Thursday.
Record: 18-13 overall, 9-9.
Top players: Dorian Finney-Smith (15.0 points, 8.2 rebounds); John Egbunu (11.5 points, 6.3 rebounds); KeVaughn Allen (11.5 points); Devin Robinson (9.3 points, 5.6 rebounds).
Head coach: Mike White (18-13 at Florida, 119-53 overall).
Comment: Florida was in the midst of a four-game losing streak before beating struggling Missouri in its regular-season finale. Florida was a team thought to surely be headed to the NCAA Tournament, but the Gators are going to have to pick up a win or two in the SEC Tournament to punch their ticket. The Gators have a talented-enough team to make a run, given that athletes such as Finney-Smith and Allen can go off any night. But the consistency to drive this team has been lacking all year.
SEC opener: vs. Arkansas, 1 p.m., Thursday.
Record: 16-15 overall, 9-9.
Top players: Moses Kingsley (16.1 points, 9.2 rebounds); Dusty Hannahs (16.0 points); Anthlon Bell (15.9 points); Jabril Durham (6.3 points, 6.4 assists).
Head coach: Mike Anderson (102-63 at Arkansas, 302-161 overall).
Comment: Arkansas has potential to be the team that comes from nowhere and makes a deep run in the SEC Tournament. Three players average more than 15 points per game and Durham is one of the SEC's top distributors. The Razorbacks boast wins over Texas A&M, LSU, Alabama and Texas Tech but have also lost some head-scratchers. Arkansas is an inconsistent group that can compete with anyone in conference on a good day.
SEC opener: vs. Florida, 1 p.m., Thursday.
Record: 14-16 overall, 7-11.
Top players: Gavin Ware (15.8 points, 7.7 rebounds); Craig Sword (12.8 points, 3.8 rebounds); Quindarry Weatherspoon (12.2 points, 4.7 rebounds); Malik Newman (11.5 points).
Head coach: Ben Howland (14-16 at Mississippi State, 413-224 overall).
Comment: Mississippi State has been one of the SEC's strangest teams this season. In most games, it hasn't had much of a chance. But the Bulldogs occasionally have flashed moments, such as in a blowout win over Arkansas, and in recent victories over Vanderbilt, Alabama and South Carolina. It seems, however, that it will be incredibly difficult for Mississippi State to put together the kind of unexpected run Auburn made a year ago. Then again, never say never.
SEC opener: vs. Georgia, 9:30 p.m., Thursday.
THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING
Record: 13-18 overall, 6-12.
Top players: Armani Moore (12.0 points, 7.9 rebounds); Robert Hubbs III (10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds); Devon Baulkman (9.3 points, 3.4 rebounds); Detrick Mostella (7.5 points).
Head coach: Rick Barnes (13-18 at Tennessee, 617-332 overall).
Comment: If Kevin Punter was still available, Tennessee might have a shot at scoring an upset or two. As it stands, the Volunteers don't appear to have the kind of offensive firepower needed to sustain an SEC Tournament run. It's a shame because the Volunteers boast wins over Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida and LSU this year. But losing Punter, who averaged 22.2 points per game, with a stress fracture in his right foot is just too much to overcome.
SEC opener: vs. Auburn, 8 p.m., Wednesday.
Record: 11-19 overall, 5-13.
Top players: Tyler Harris (13.9 points, 7.6 rebounds); T.J. Dunans (11.2 points, 3.5 assists); Cinmeon Bowers (10.7 points, 9.8 rebounds); Bryce Brown (10.2 points).
Head coach: Bruce Pearl (26-39 at Auburn, 257-138 overall).
Comment: Undoubtedly, Pearl is one of the conference's top coaches, evidenced by what he did at Tennessee (before scandal ousted him) and with his team's 2015 SEC Tournament run. But the talent issues on this roster are too much for the Tigers to overcome this year. Auburn does have overachieving wins over Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and UAB. But without Kareem Canty, who left the program following a suspension in February, Auburn will have problems advancing past the opening-round game.
SEC opener: vs. Tennessee, 8 p.m., Wednesday.
Of Note: Missouri (10-20, 3-14 SEC) is not participating in the SEC Tournament due to self-imposed sanctions.