After a fun slate of games on Tuesday, there are three SEC contests on the Wednesday schedule that could all possibly have NCAA Tournament ramifications.
Mississippi State and Georgia are trying to put themselves on the right side of the bubble, although the latter may be in a more difficult spot at this point.
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): 209-57
Mississippi State at Vanderbilt – 7 PM EST, SEC Network
The Bulldogs have started playing much better on the road, and that’s a positive heading into this game considering how well Vanderbilt has been playing at home.
The Commodores have won three straight home games, which includes victories over LSU, TCU, and Georgia. Despite sitting in last place in the conference, seniors Riley LaChance and Jeff Roberson have helped Vanderbilt stay competitive in most games.
There is a lot on the line for Ben Howland’s squad here. Mississippi State needs more quality wins to advance its NCAA Tournament case, but perhaps more importantly, the Bulldogs need to avoid bad losses. With the Commodores sitting in the 120s in the RPI, this would be a bad loss.
But while Vanderbilt is playing well in Nashville, I feel like this is a spot where we see Mississippi State continue to turn the corner after coming up just short at Missouri.
Prediction: Mississippi State 72, Vanderbilt 70
Kentucky at No. 10 Auburn – 9 PM EST, ESPN2
It’s certainly been an interesting season for the Wildcats, as they enter this game looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
Doing so won’t be easy. After losing at home to Texas A&M last week, Auburn rebounded with a good performance at Georgia, and did so without the services of leading scorer Bryce Brown. It sounds like he’ll be a game-time decision for this one, so that’s definitely worth watching when it comes to trying to figure out how this game will unfold.
Most people will point to Kentucky’s significant size advantage in this game, which is similar to what Auburn faces against the Aggies. If the Wildcats take the same type of approach and attack the paint for the majority of the night, they’ll be in good shape. If they decide to try to win the game from the 3-point line, it likely won’t turn out well.
Picking Kentucky to lose a fourth-straight game just seems unfathomable, but these two teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to overall confidence. Even with the Wildcats’ struggles, Auburn knows that this game is a big deal in terms of trying to quiet some of the critics.
It does feel like the Tigers will get Kentucky’s best shot, with Kevin Knox and company already proving they can win a huge road game this season (see West Virginia).
But when in doubt, I always go with the better and more reliable team.
Prediction: Auburn 79, Kentucky 77
Georgia at Florida – 9 PM EST, SEC Network
After starting 2-1 in conference play, Georgia has lost 8 of its last 10 games. That’s not ideal for a team that sports one of the best players in the conference in Yante Maten.
Unfortunately, the consistency around Maten just hasn’t been there, and that will likely result in another missed opportunity for Mark Fox’s team when it comes to being in the NCAA Tournament discussion.
Of course, the Bulldogs could inch their way back into the mix with another win over the Gators. Mike White’s squad did not play well in the meeting in Athens a few weeks ago, but since then, Florida has scored wins over LSU and South Carolina.
With the Gators out for revenge, and Georgia being impossible to trust in a road game, this seems to favor the home team.
Prediction: Florida 78, Georgia 69
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