LSU basketball is off to as hot a start as any program in the country but on Monday the Tigers failed to crack the AP top 25, coming in as the No. 28 ranked team, earning 93 votes.
The Tigers are coming off their first early season tournament win of the Will Wade era, defeating Penn State and Wake Forest on back-to-back nights to win the Emerald Coast Classic in Florida. Having success in those early season tournaments was a priority for this program and the two wins vaulted the program to 7-0, the best start of the Wade era.
Among the SEC teams in the top 25 rankings are Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn and Florida, showing just how much this conference has improved in basketball in recent years. Though the Tigers failed to crack the top 25 this week, there's momentum gaining around this program from a national perspective that is only set to increase because of the way this team is defending.
LSU has been defined by its elite defensive tenacity as the Tigers best offense has been creating turnovers and havoc on the defensive side of the ball. Through seven games, LSU is one of the premier teams in forcing turnovers with over 20 a game and most importantly is capitalizing on other team's mistakes. LSU is averaging 12.7 steals per contest and 5.4 blocks as well, creating transition opportunities that are much easier for this particular group.
With all of those elite defensive numbers, LSU is allowing just 54.1 points per game on defense, No. 6 in the country and tops in the SEC by a wide margin. All of it goes into buy in on the defensive end, something the Tigers have an abundance of one through eight in their rotation.
Mwani Wilkinson, Eric Gaines, Brandon Murray, Tari Eason and Xavier Pinson have all shown to be extremely volatile defenders for opposing players, with Wilkinson more times than not taking a back seat on offense to guard the opposing team's best player. Wade has been meticulous about defining roles to players throughout the course of the season and everyone has followed their role.
This team will only continue to rise in national attention as their efforts on defense become more noticeable once SEC play comes around. For now, LSU will set its sights on Ohio Wednesday in a non-conference matchup in the PMAC.