Vanderbilt finished second in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division last season but according to a panel of the league's media released on Monday, the Commodores are not expected to reach similar heights during the 2010-2011 men's basketball season. Each SEC school selected media members that cover their team and additional writers from across the nation were selected by the conference office to form the voting panel.
The Commodores return three starters from last season's team that won 12 regular season conference games and posted a 24-9 record overall, but the panel selected the promise of youth at schools such as Kentucky and Tennessee ahead of the Commodores as well as preseason optimism at Georgia, a team that went 14-17 last season.
The Florida Gators were the choice to win the Eastern Division, earning 13 first-place votes and 110 points overall. The Gators were also chosen to be the league's overall champion, earning eight-first place votes over predicted West champion, Mississippi State's three. The Gators return all five starters from a team that posted a 9-7 record inside league play a year ago and finished 21-13 overall.
Kentucky was tabbed to finish second place by panel, despite losing four players that went on to be selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft and accounted for 72.2-percent of the team's scoring. The Wildcats earned three first-place votes and 95 points overall.
Georgia was selected third with 72 points and two first-place votes while Tennessee finished fourth with 71 points and two first-place votes on their own. Like Florida, Georgia returns virtually every key member of its team including junior post man Trey Thompkins and guard Travis Leslie. Thompkins was selected by the same panel to be the SEC Player of the Year, receiving 18 votes. Ole Miss senior guard Chris Warren and Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight earned one vote each for SEC Player of the Year honors by the panel.
Vanderbilt's Jeffery Taylor joined Thompkins, Leslie, Warren and Knight on the panel's preseason All-SEC First team. Florida's Kenny Boynton and Chandler Parsons were joined by Arkansas' Marshawn Powell, Alabama's JaMychal Green and Tennessee's Scotty Hopson on the All-SEC second team.
Vanderbilt received just 52 points and no first-place votes to finish fifth while South Carolina earned just 20 points to finish sixth.
Mississippi State earned 18 first-place votes and 118 overall points in the Western Division voting. The Bulldogs lost record setting shot blocker Jarvis Varnado, but return guards Ravern Johnson and Dee Bost from last year's 24-12 squad.
Ole Miss received two-first place votes and 84 points to finish second in the division while Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and Auburn finished out the remaining order.
Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Each media member also voted for one team as an overall conference champion and a five-player All-SEC Team.
The 2010-11 SEC Media Preseason Poll tips off SEC Basketball Media Day, October 21 at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama.
Vanderbilt will host Presbyterian inside Memorial Gym on November 12th to start the 2010-2011 season. Commodore fans will get their first chance to see this year's team a few weeks before when Vanderbilt plays Alabama-Huntsville on November 3rd in an exhibition game. Vanderbilt will play a second exhibition game against Southern Indiana on November 8th.