It’s a huge night for bubble teams around the SEC, with three NCAA tournament hopefuls in action.
Let’s get right to the predictions.
Vanderbilt at Tennessee – 6:30 PM ET, SEC Network
This is as big as it gets for both teams.
These two are the leaders for the fifth NCAA tournament bid from the SEC, and the winner of this game will take another step forward.
When Vandy and Tennessee met in Nashville on January 14, Jordan Bone scored 23 points and fueled the Vols to a 87-75 win. The Commodores simply play defense well enough to win that game, and they’ll need to be much better this time around in Knoxville.
After losing three of four, Tennessee was able to get back on track with a blowout win over Missouri last Saturday. As for the Commodores, they’ve won two straight and seem to have more momentum right now than they’ve had in a while.
You could talk about statistical matchups, strength of schedules, and all that jazz when trying to figure out the outcome of this game. But you might as well throw those out the window.
A game like this is almost impossible to predict due to everything that surrounds it. Vandy has to shoot the ball well to win, and Tennessee has to be physical inside and attempt to dominate the boards.
The Vols have been very reliable at home this season aside from the late letdown against Georgia. The last time the Commodores hit the road? They lost by 20 at Missouri.
I’m leaning towards Tennessee here.
Prediction: Tennessee 74, Vanderbilt 70
Texas A&M at Arkansas – 8:30 PM ET, SEC Network
Just when we all thought the Razorbacks were close to playing their way out of the NCAA tournament, they storm back with a vengeance in earning wins over South Carolina and Ole Miss.
Arkansas is safely back into the field for now, but it can’t afford to drop a game to team that’s hovering around 100 in the RPI.
And yes, you guessed it: Texas A&M currently sits at No. 94 in the RPI.
As we’ve said all season, the Aggies are talented enough to beat anyone on any given night. This year certainly hasn’t gone the way Billy Kennedy would’ve liked it to, but many of us likely underestimated the impact of losing so many great players from last year’s team.
Arkansas won the first meeting between these two in College Station, so the Aggies will be looking for a little revenge in this spot.
Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll get it. I love the way the Hogs have played in their last two games, and perhaps they’ve finally realized that it’s now or never when it comes to making a march towards the tournament.
Prediction: Arkansas 75, Texas A&M 68