We’re getting closer and closer to Selection Sunday, which means that teams around the country are trying to add more bulk to their NCAA Tournament resumes.
That’s especially in the SEC, where as many as 10 teams could be in contention for a bid when the conference tournament tips off in St. Louis on March 7.
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.
No. 21 Texas A&M at Missouri – 7 PM EST, ESPNU
This appears to be the game of the night, with both teams playing some of their best basketball of the season.
After an 0-5 start in league play, Texas A&M has rallied to win 6 of 8, which included a huge two-game stretch last week with wins over Auburn and Kentucky. The Aggies are starting to pound the ball inside at will, and when that happens, this team is hard to stop.
Of course, Missouri is one of those teams that can match up with Billy Kennedy’s squad from a size standpoint. The Tigers boast a big frontline, but it’s been the hot play of Kassius Robertson that has fueled Mizzou during its four-game winning streak. He’s scored at least 22 points in three of those four games, and has quickly emerged as one of the most valuable players in the SEC.
This feels like a toss-up. The Aggies won in a hostile environment at Auburn, so they they understand what it takes to win these types of games. As for the Tigers, they’re simply finding ways to pull out games down the stretch.
Texas A&M won the previous meeting by 11 in College Station and held Missouri to just 49 points. I don’t see the latter happening again, so I’ll take the Tigers at home.
Prediction: Missouri 73, Texas A&M 71
Arkansas at Ole Miss – 7 PM EST, SEC Network
There are a lot of unknowns surrounding this game, as yesterday’s news that Andy Kennedy would be stepping down as Ole Miss coach certainly came as a bit of a surprise.
The question is, how does that affect the Rebels here? Yes, Kennedy will remain on the sidelines for the rest of the season, but you never know how teams will respond to this type of situation.
But on the bright side, it’s not as though Ole Miss is taking on a red-hot road team. Arkansas has been just fine at home this season, but still holds only a single win in true road games. The last meeting between these two teams went down to the wire, with the Razorbacks scoring a 97-93 win in Fayetteville.
This will likely be another high-scoring affair, and my guess is that we see Terence Davis and company rally around their coach and put on one of their better performances of the year.
Prediction: Ole Miss 84, Arkansas 81
South Carolina at No. 18 Tennessee – 9 PM EST, ESPNU
The Vols should be pretty angry after losing the way that they did at Alabama, which isn’t ideal for a South Carolina team that is really struggling.
The Gamecocks haven’t been able to find their way after upsetting Florida in Gainesville, and they’ll need to use their physicality and aggressive defense to make things tough on Rick Barnes’ squad.
After the loss in Tuscaloosa, I can’t see Tennessee losing this type of game.
I still believe that Grant Williams and company can go a long way in March, and a convincing win here would help further that assumption.
Prediction: Tennessee 77, South Carolina 65
LSU at Alabama – 9 PM EST, SEC Network
Which Alabama team will show up? That’s a question we’ve asked a lot this season.
The Crimson Tide have consistently brought it when playing ranked opponents, but they’ve often let their guard down when playing other opponents. That can’t really happen again here, as LSU sports a formidable duo in Tremont Waters and Duop Reath, and this team has already proven that it can win games on the road by earning victories at Texas A&M and Arkansas.
If the Tide play to their potential, they should take care of business. But if they don’t come out with the same energy that they had against the Vols, they’ll be in for a battle.
I’ll go with Alabama to keep things rolling, but this is still a hard team to trust at this point.
Prediction: Alabama 80, LSU 75
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