SEC Basketball Predictions: Florida/LSU, Vandy/UGA, and Auburn/Texas A&M

In Features by Blake Lovell

There were several interesting results on Tuesday in what was another wild night of action around the SEC.

Tennessee scored a huge win at Kentucky, while Mississippi State took a step forward in the NCAA Tournament discussion by knocking off Alabama. Arkansas and Missouri also stayed on track with impressive victories of their own.

As always my predictions, are based on team analysis and who I think will win. Score projections are for my own amusement.

Let’s get to the picks.

Season Predictions Record (straight up): 197-55

LSU at Florida – 6:30 PM EST, SEC Network

Florida’s season has certainly been a roller coaster ride, with the Gators experiencing another downturn last Saturday in a blowout home loss to Alabama.

Meanwhile, LSU is 4-6 in league play, with those four wins coming via season sweeps over Texas A&M and Arkansas. And while the Tigers’ first four losses came by eight points or less, their last two (at Auburn and at Tennessee) have come by 25 and 33 points, respectively. Of course, the level of opponent had a lot to do with that.

Florida has proven its ability to play to that level this season, and this team is still capable of beating anyone. But the up and down nature of this squad makes it impossible to know what you’re gonna get on a nightly basis.

The point guard matchup between Chris Chiozza and Tremont Waters will be fun to watch, but I think the more intriguing one may be Duop Reath vs. Florida’s frontcourt. Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes will have to play well here to combat Reath, who had been on a tear before getting injured early against Arkansas.

Despite that injury, LSU head coach Will Wade said earlier in the week that Reath should be available for this game.

Picking Florida at this point is difficult to do considering the inconsistency, but I’ll go with the Gators in a game that will likely be closer than people think.

Prediction: Florida 78, LSU 75

Georgia at Vanderbilt – 8:30 PM EST, SEC Network

Speaking of up and down teams, Georgia faces what feels like a must-win here.

According to today’s bracket update from USA Today bracketologist Shelby Mast, the Bulldogs remain on the First Four Out line. However, I don’t have to tell you what would happen to Georgia if it lost to a Vanderbilt team that currently sits at No. 122 in the RPI.

The good news for Mark Fox’s squad is that it sports a significant size advantage, which has helped the Bulldogs be effective in limiting opponents’ 3-point point shooting.

Georgia is 26th nationally in allowing the opposition to shoot just 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, so that will play a role in this game due to Vanderbilt’s outside shooting. The Commodores have hit nine or more 3-pointers in three straight games, with seniors Riley LaChance and Jeff Roberson playing the best basketball of their careers.

I know this is one Georgia absolutely has to have, but Vanderbilt is due a victory. Bryce Drew’s team has come so close on several occasions this year, and I’ll take them to finally get over the hump with a nice home win.

Prediction: Vanderbilt 73, Georgia 68

Texas A&M at No. 8 Auburn – 9 PM EST, ESPN2

Despite a 21-2 start, some people are still trying to find reasons to knock Auburn’s ability to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

One of those reasons has to due with the Tigers’ size, so be ready to hear about that aspect in this game considering that Texas A&M is one of the biggest teams in the country.

The Aggies enter having won four of their last six, and at times, this team has looked like the team that was steamrolling the competition earlier in the season. But there has been a noteworthy trend with Texas A&M as of late: Tyler Davis and company are 4-2 at home, but 0-6 on the road in SEC play.

That seems worth noting when you look at what the SEC’s top team has been doing at Auburn Arena this season. The Tigers have won 11 of their 12 home games by at least 11 points, with the only one less than that being a five-point victory over UAB back in early December.

Here’s the deal: Should the Tigers lose this game, my opinion of them wouldn’t change unless it’s an unexpected blowout that sees the Aggies rack up 20+ offensive rebounds or something like that.

Too many people overreact to a single loss rather than looking at a team’s full body of work. I don’t have to wait and see if the Tigers can beat traditional SEC powers like Kentucky and Florida to decide whether I’m buying them as a contender.

The reason why? Because Auburn already has a double-digit win at Tennessee, who is easily the second-best team in the conference and a top 10 team nationally in my eyes.

I do think Texas A&M’s 6-10 trio of Davis, Robert Williams, and Tonny Trocha-Morelos will cause problems on the interior, but there’s nothing in the Aggies’ recent road performances to suggest that they’ll come out with the energy and efficiency needed in this spot.

Auburn’s ability to speed the game up should force enough turnovers to pick up another win.

Prediction: Auburn 79, Texas A&M 74

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Blake Lovell is the founder of Southeast Hoops. He hosts the Marching to Madness podcast, which features interviews with coaches around the country. He also hosts a weekly college basketball show on WNSR 560AM/95.9 FM in Nashville. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Athlon Sports, Rivals, FanRag Sports, and many more.