We’re only a month away from Selection Sunday, which means teams all around the country are looking to fine-tune their NCAA Tournament resumes.
That’s especially the case in the SEC, as several teams are trying to stay on the right side of the bubble by continuing to pick up quality wins.
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): 199-56
Florida at South Carolina – Noon EST, CBS
The Gamecocks have hit a wall since scoring a surprising win in Gainesville on January 24, with Frank Martin’s team losing four straight since then.
However, Florida has only played a single road game since the previous game between this two, with the Gators putting out a less than stellar performance in a loss at Georgia.
The first game came down to 3-point shooting, and that should play a factor again in this one. The Gamecocks hit 11 shots from beyond the arc, while the Gators struggled in going just 6 of 23. And although it’s easy to say that South Carolina may struggle to replicate that type of shooting mark, Florida hasn’t exactly been a great defensive team on the perimeter.
It’s impossible to figure out Mike White’s squad, but I’ll take them to get a little revenge here.
Prediction: Florida 69, South Carolina 67
Mississippi State at Missouri – 2 PM EST, ESPN2
A matchup between two of the hottest teams in the SEC? Sign me up.
These two teams have made big strides in recent weeks, with Missouri improving its tournament stock dramatically. However, due to a rough non-conference schedule, Mississippi State still has work to do to get into the picture.
Missouri turned the ball over 19 times in the previous meeting and allowed Mississippi State to shoot 62.2 percent from two, so those are certainly two areas to watch.
This may be one of the best games on the schedule, but I like Kassius Robertson and company to snap the Bulldogs’ streak.
Prediction: Missouri 68, Mississippi State 64
No. 8 Auburn at Georgia – 3:30 PM EST, SEC Network
While this may seem like an easy matchup to predict given the recent trends of both teams, it becomes a little tougher with Bryce Brown’s availability unknown.
Brown suffered a shoulder injury in the loss to Texas A&M, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll play in this game. But on the bright side, Auburn showed its depth and toughness against the Aggies in battling back even with its leading scorer sidelined for the entire second half.
As for Georgia, its NCAA Tournament hopes are in trouble. The Bulldogs have lost seven of their last nine games, and the loss to Vanderbilt earlier in the week sent them spiraling into the 70s in the RPI. A win over the SEC’s top team would obviously do wonders for Georgia’s profile, but this team would still need more quality wins.
Brown’s potential absence is worrisome since he fueled Auburn’s comeback in the previous game between these two, and the Bulldogs’ size could make things interesting.
I’ve been going back and forth on this one since this feels like the trap game of all trap games for Auburn. I love this team’s depth, but Brown has gone from role player to SEC Player of the Year candidate, so not having him on the court for an entire game would be significant.
If Brown doesn’t play, I think Georgia wins. But with so many unknowns both ways, I’ll go with the better team.
Prediction: Auburn 74, Georgia 73
Ole Miss at LSU – 4 PM EST, ESPNU
LSU had its chances in the loss to Florida earlier in the week, but now gets to return to a place where its played well as of late. The Tigers have beaten Texas A&M and Arkansas in their last two home games, so despite the road woes, this team is tough to handle at home.
Speaking of road woes, Ole Miss is 0-7 in true road games, which is obviously a concern heading into this game. The Rebels need to find more consistency away from home, as four of their final seven SEC games will be outside of Oxford.
In breaking down the matchup, both teams feel similar in that they’ve packed quite a punch offensively at times while struggling on defense for certain stretches.
I’ll go with the Tigers at home, but I feel like this might be the Rebels’ best chance at a road win the rest of the way.
Prediction: LSU 83, Ole Miss 79
No. 15 Tennessee at Alabama – 6 PM EST, SEC Network
It seems like we’re always asking about which Alabama team will show up, but recent history seems to suggest that the good one will in this spot.
The Crimson Tide have consistently been able to rise to the occasion against top-tier competition, as they’ve scored marquee home wins over Oklahoma, Auburn, and Texas A&M.
However, Tennessee is one of the toughest teams in the country. The Vols have won eight games away from home this season despite still being a pretty inexperienced team, with their most recent road win at Kentucky showing just how dangerous this team can be.
I think Tennessee is easily a top 10 team right now, but given what we’ve seen from Alabama in these types of games, I’m going to take the Tide to score a narrow victory.
Prediction: Alabama 72, Tennessee 70
No. 24 Kentucky at Texas A&M – 8:15 PM EST, ESPN
The Texas A&M team that we saw earlier this season may indeed be back, and that’s not great news for a Kentucky team that’s struggling right now.
The Aggies got a huge win at Auburn on Wednesday, which is one of the best wins of any team in conference play. What stood out most in that game was Texas A&M’s dedicated effort to pound the ball inside, which should always be a top priority when you have three 6-10 players in the rotation.
Kentucky is one of the few teams that can match the Aggies’ size, and that showed in the early January matchup in Lexington. What the Wildcats can’t afford to do in this game is settle for the outside shot, as they’ve only made 5 of 34 attempts in their last two contests.
It feels like the Auburn win may have been a turning point for this talented Texas A&M squad, so I’ll go with Tyler Davis and Robert Williams to wreak enough havoc to pick up another big victory.
Prediction: Texas A&M 75, Kentucky 70
Vanderbilt at Arkansas – 8:30 PM EST, SEC Network
Vanderbilt got a much-needed win over Georgia this week, and perhaps the Commodores can keep the momentum rolling heading into another tough SEC environment.
Arkansas has won three of its last four home games by four points or less, so while the Hogs may not be blowing every team out like they were earlier in the year, they’re still finding ways to win close games.
The Commodores have already proven their ability to play well in hostile environments, as they should have picked up a win at Kentucky and fought back to make things interesting at Tennessee.
Something worth noting: Arkansas has won 33 straight games when leading at halftime. So, if the Razorbacks are ahead after the 20-minute mark, history suggests that they should be in fine shape the rest of the way.
Riley LaChance and Jeff Roberson will need to once again have huge games for Vanderbilt, but I think the Commodores may struggle to slow down Daryl Macon and company.
Prediction: Arkansas 79, Vanderbilt 73
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