Kentucky just completed a perfect regular season, winning an SEC regular-season title. Is there any futures betting value with somebody else in this SEC tournament?
Kentucky owns the top seed for this SEC tournament, having just completed an 18-0 conference season. The Wildcats survived two overtime games to begin their SEC slate, and were only challenged a couple of times after that.
Arkansas earned the two seed, going 13-5 in conference play. Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss all finished 11-7 in the SEC, but the Bulldogs claimed the three seed, the Tigers the four, and the double-byes that come with top-four finishes.
The Aggies come in as the five seed, the Rebels the six.
Vanderbilt won its last five games in a row to finish at 9-9 in conference play, good enough for the seven seed. Florida, on the other hand, lost seven of its last 10 to fall into the eight seed. Alabama lost two of its last three and comes in as the nine seed. And Tennessee, with six losses in its last seven games, sits in the 10 spot.
South Carolina, Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri round out the field.
The most pleasant surprise of this season in the SEC might have been Texas A&M. We figured the Aggies for, at best, a .500 mark in conference play; instead, they went 11-7, and at least four of those losses could be called “close.” At 20-10 overall A&M sits on the Big Dance bubble; a win or two in this SEC tournament would really help.
The biggest disappointment in the SEC this year had to be Florida; after going a perfect 18-0 in conference play last year the Gators also lost several close games, finished 8-10, and will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
As of early this week BetOnline was chalking Kentucky at -500 to win this SEC tournament. A price like that is of no betting interest to us. Second-seeded Arkansas was the second choice at +1000; fourth-seeded LSU was the third choice at +1200; and third-seeded Georgia was the fourth choice at +1800.
Florida and Vandy came next, each at +2000, followed by Ole Miss at +2200 and Texas A&M at +2500.
In the long-shot category Tennessee was priced at +6600, Alabama and South Carolina at +8000, and Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri each at +25000 (250/1).
Twelfth-seeded Mississippi State and 13th-seeded Auburn tip this tournament off Wednesday evening, followed by the 11-vs.-14 game matching South Carolina and Missouri.
Thursday Florida and Alabama meet in the eight-vs.-nine game; then fifth-seeded Texas A&M takes on the MSU-Auburn winner; then Vandy and Tennessee meet in the seven-vs.-ten game; and for the nightcap sixth-seeded Ole Miss plays the SC-Mizzou winner.
Friday the top four seeds get in on the fun; Kentucky goes against either the Gators or Tide; LSU probably takes on A&M; Arkansas meets either the Commodores or Vols; and Georgia probably takes on the Rebels.
The semifinals will be played Saturday, and the SEC tournament championship game will be played Sunday.
We just don't see any value in betting Kentucky; not at those NCAA Basketball odds. So instead, we look elsewhere.
On the upper half of the bracket the Wildcats are going to run into either Texas A&M or LSU in the semifinals. And both the Aggies and Tigers gave the 'Cats all they could handle in the only meetings between the teams this season; A&M pushed UK to overtime before succumbing 70-64 back in January, and LSU had the 'Cats down by six points with about seven minutes to go about a month ago, before Kentucky rallied for the win.
On the bottom of the bracket Arkansas and Georgia seem headed for a semifinals match-up. The Hogs took the only meeting this season between the teams 79-75 back in January.
Ultimately, somebody will have to knock off Kentucky to make this board worth betting. And the later one has to deal with the Wildcats, the better. So our NCAA Basketball Pick for this SEC tournament comes down to either Georgia or Arkansas. And the Bulldogs gave Kentucky a much tougher game than Arkansas did. So we'll take UGA, and hope we can go into the tournament championship game with the prospect of an 18/1 payoff.