SEC Tournament Preview: Anything Is Possible in Wide-Open League

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 5:01 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 5:01 PM UTC

They just had Arch Madness in St. Louis and now the SEC tournament is coming to town. As ESPN's Joe Tessitore and Sean Farnham have been forecasting for weeks, the SEC tourney will be unpredictable.

Think about this: Of the major and mid-major conferences in which there are daily NCAA basketball odds, the SEC is one of only two in which the champion had five losses in league play. (The Big 12 was the other)

It would not be a stretch to think the SEC tournament could be very similar to the recently completed MAAC tourney, in which the highest seed to advance to the semifinals was a No. 4 and the championship game featured a No. 6 vs. a No. 4. Just below are the current odds for all the teams to win this event, but that just scratches the surface when thinking about placing NCAA basketball picks. After just a crazy season in the SEC in which Kentucky was never a threat to win the conference, this should be a head-shaking five days. Maybe the setting is perfect for this tournament, being in the "Show Me" state.

SEC Tournament Odds (5Dimes)

  • Auburn +370
  • Tennessee +375
  • Florida +445
  • Kentucky +455
  • Texas A&M +1050
  • Missouri +1150
  • Arkansas +1350
  • Alabama +2800
  • Mississippi State +3250
  • LSU +3500
  • Georgia +5500
  • South Carolina +8000
  • Vanderbilt +11500
  • Mississippi +25000

First-Round Thoughts

Mississippi's coach, Andy Kennedy, knew he was a dead-man walking and left before he was fired. The Rebels have individual talent, but there were reasons why they were last in the conference and No.11 South Carolina moves on.

Both Georgia and Vanderbilt could have won more often in SEC play, but they found ways to lose in the last four minutes of games too frequently. Either team advancing would be no surprise.

Second-Round Foolishness

In Game 2 Thursday, Missouri will have the home crowd edge in St. Louis and defeat either the Bulldogs or Commodores. We are also expecting to see freshman Michael Porter Jr. return to action in a Missouri uniform, even if just briefly.

The day's first conflict is an 8/9 matchup. Inconsistent Texas A&M faces Alabama, which has lost five in a row. The Aggies are the better team but have a mediocre backcourt, and the Crimson Tide have the ability if not the cohesiveness to advance.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, Arkansas was a popular pick to win the tournament, but an ugly home loss to Kentucky by 15 points and a mental no-show at Missouri last Saturday leaves bettors wondering. The Hogs should handle the Gamecocks, however.

Mississippi State is the higher seed over LSU (7 vs. 10), but that does not make MSU better. These Bulldogs just lost by 19 at Baton Rouge and they should at least be in quick turnaround revenge mode.

Quarterfinals Chaos

Top-seeded Auburn would rather face Alabama than Texas A&M as the Aggies have the size to bother the Tigers. Texas A&M won the previous game 81-80 at Auburn and the Tigers are 1-4 ATS of late.

Kentucky is only 5-8 and 5-7-1 ATS away from Lexington, and if the Cats are facing Missouri this will fill like a road game for the Wildcats. Though it would make headlines, John Calipari's club falling to Mizzou would not be a shocker.

What Florida team shows up? Is it the one on a three-game winning streak or a Gators crew that dropped a trio of tilts just prior to this? If it's Florida and Arkansas, make the Gators heads and Razorbacks tails and flip the coin.

If there is one team to feel most comfortable about, it is probably Tennessee as the two seed. Yes, the Vols looked horrible in two February double-digit road losses, but they have won four in a row. They are also 11-2 (8-5 ATS) since mid-January and should reach the semis.

Semis, The Final and Beyond

On the surface, hard to see many point spreads more than five points in St. Louis unless Day 1 teams reach the quarterfinals or beyond. There is no pressure on higher seeds Auburn or Tennessee having to think about being No. 1 in the NCAA tournament because that will not happen. Both are thought to be a three seed currently, and they would only move up by winning this tourney and those listed ahead of them faltering.

There is no reason to think that upsets won't be plentiful, which means everything will be the opposite and this turns into a chalk-laden tournament. With this in mind, here are my four bets in order for the semis and naming a champion:

1) Tennessee 2) Texas A&M 3) Missouri 4) Florida

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