SEC Trends and Angles

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Venue: Bridgestone Arena - Nashville

Overall Betting Results
Favorites/Underdogs: 11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS
Over/Under: 7-7
Sunday, March 17
Matchup Records Skinny Projection
No. 5 Auburn
Overall: 25-9 SU, 17-16-1 ATS
Totals: 17-16-1 O/U

No. 3 Tennessee
Overall: 29-4 SU, 17-14-1 ATS
Totals: 18-14 O/U
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 3 Tennessee (ESPN, 1 p.m. ET)
Bruce Pearl has the Tigers back in an SEC Tournament title game for the first time since 2000. Auburn hasn't won since 1985. Chuck Person, now embroiled in scandal, led the way as a player. Charles Barkley had just left for the NBA the year prior. This is a rarity for folks on the Plains, so expect the Tigers to receiver that message and come out ready to play. Pearl himself lost at Tennessee in '09, so running into them a decade later after all that's happened is wild. As far as his team goes, they defeated Tennessee 84-80 just last weekend, getting 22 points from Chuma Okeke and 16 points and eight assists from point guard Jared Harper. Both will have to be at their best for the Tigers to pull off this upset and become a historic team. Senior Bryce Brown knocked down four 3-pointers in the win over Tennessee and will have the green light, so count on him being aggressive. Auburn attacked a sound Tennessee defense that ranked top-10 in field-goal percentage defense most of the season. The Tigers wanted no part of bogging down by being complacent. Expect that to remain their strategy

The Vols are playing to put themselves in position for a No. 1 seed, though the NCAA Tournament selection committee typically likes to have their decisions made overnight. It's very possible they're already locked in as a No. 2 seed, but you can expect they'll go out there to try and claim an SEC title anyway. It will be interesting to see if Vols fans can get tickets off of dejected Kentucky fans ready to leave Nashville in order to bolster Tennessee's advantage. Admiral Schofield has been spectacular down the stretch, stepping up to help keep defenses from completely locking in on Grant Williams, whose excellence in the clutch has become a driving force for this group. Point guard Jordan Bone was given a lot of credit for keeping Tennessee poised during its comeback against Kentucky and finished with 17 points, seven assists and just one turnover in the 84-80 March 9 loss that saw the teams combine for 62 3-point attempts. The Vols have won five of six outright since back-to-back road losses to Kentucky and LSU. Auburn has won seven straight.
Tennessee 76
Auburn 72

Saturday, March 16
Matchup Records Skinny Projection
No. 8 Florida
Overall: 19-14 SU, 15-18 ATS
Totals: 11-22 O/U

No. 5 Auburn
Overall: 24-9 SU, 17-15-1 ATS
Totals: 17-15-1 O/U
No. 8 Florida vs. No. 5 Auburn (ESPN, 1 p.m. ET)
The Gators looked like they were headed for a nervous Selection Sunday when a six-point possession ensued late in the second half as LSU interim head coach Tony Benford picked up an ill-timed technical foul to compound the Tigers' issues. Eventually, freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard secured the Florida upset with an immense 3-pointer wiht just over a second remaining. Freshman Keyontae Johnson continued his tourney coming-out party by delivering the winning assist to finish off a strong final few minutes. Nembhard stole the show with a career-high 20 points, six assists and no turnovers, but will now have to deal with Auburn's pesky senior floor general, Jared Harper, who helped the Tigers post a 76-62 home win on Feb. 5. This will be the Gators' first SEC Tournament semifinal appearance in five years, the furthest head coach Mike White has taken them since replacing Billy Donovan

The Tigers faced a little adversity against the Gamecocks, trailing early before gaining some separation in the second half and ultimately covering by knocking down the majority of their free-throws down the stretch. Chuma Okeke again looked bothered by a foot injury and didn't score his first field goal until he finished off an alley oop in the closing minutes. Harper recovered from a shaky quarterfinal effort by scoring 19 of his 27 points in the second half to help the Tigers improve to 6-0 this month. Senior backcourt make Bryce Brown added 19 points and has been excellent in Nashville. 7-foot center Austin Wiley, who has been sidelined since Feb. 23 with a slower leg injury, provided limited minutes against the Gamecocks in his return to the lineup and is expected to be available for this one This is Auburn's first SEC Tourney semifinal since 2015.
Auburn 75
Florida 71
No. 3 Tennessee
Overall: 28-4 SU, 16-14-1 ATS
Totals: 17-14 O/U

No. 2 Kentucky
Overall: 27-5 SU, 16-15-1 ATS
Totals: 11-21 O/U
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Kentucky (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The Vols took care of business against Mississippi State, getting a ridiculous dunk from Admiral Schofield to punctuate an impressive win over the NCAA-bound Bulldogs. Afterward, he was trending on Twitter over the jam and the fact he went on SEC Network and said the Vols don't feel like Kentucky respects them as an opponent. The rubber match will present an opportunity to move on to the championship game and likely lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. Tennessee is playing extremely well after Schofield, Kyle Alexander, Jordan Bone and Lamonte Turner all stepped up in support of SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams to pull away and gain separation in a contest that was tied in the second half. The Vols routed Kentucky in Knoxville 71-52 to open March after being blown out in Lexington in February.

An active 'Cats defense made quick work of the Crimson Tide, helping dominate the action and setting up easy offense. Although this game will be played in Nashville, Kentucky fans have again taken over the SEC Tournament, creating an interesting dynamic for this one. The Wildcats held the Vols to 40 percent shooting in their win and were stifled in the loss, shooting just 31.8 percent. They held Alabama to a shooting clip of just over 30 percent in Friday's rout. Reid Travis had eight points, seven boards and three blocks in his return to the lineup, so we'll see how his knee is feeling playing on consecutive days after putting in 23 minutes. P.J. Washington has been the leader of this young UK group and has held his own against Williams and the highly touted Tennessee frontcourt. He must against be at his best if the Wildcats are to suit up on Sunday.
Tennessee 69
Kentucky 66

Friday, March 15
Matchup Records Skinny Projection
No. 8 Florida
Overall: 18-14 SU, 14-18 ATS
Totals: 10-22 O/U

No. 1 LSU
Overall: 26-5 SU, 19-11-1 ATS
Totals: 18-12-1 O/U
No. 8 Florida vs. No. 1 LSU (SEC, 1 p.m. ET)
The Gators may wind up getting into the NCAAs on the strength of their impressive play against the SEC regular-season champion Tigers if they're able to pull off another upset here. Although getting by Arkansas was important, the Hogs were NIT bound and don't exactly move the needle in terms of a quality first-round win. Florida held the Razorbacks without a field goal over the last five minutes to pull away for a 66-50 rout. Freshman Keyonta Johnson scored a career-high 20 points and added 12 rebounds, which included six offensive boards. With freshmen Andrew Nembhard and Noah Locke also playing huge roles, it's going to be interesting to see how they handle the grind of playing games on consecutive days in this tourney atmosphere. The 'under' has prevailed in 10 of 12 involving the Gators.

LSU didn't relent to suspended head coach Will Wade's request for reinstatement, so assistant Tony Benford will remain in place in the interim. Wade is engulfed in the pay-for-play fiasco currently brewing in college hoops as a conversation that appeared to catch him negotiating payment to acquire the services of freshman Ja'Vonte Smart was caught on an FBI wire tap. Smart is practicing with the Tigers but hasn't been cleared to play yet. Freshman Naz Reid will return after fears of a concussion kept him out of the regular-season finale vs. Vandy that clinched LSU's first SEC title since 2009. Sophomore point guard Tremont Waters has been the driving force for the Tigers and finished with 19 points and six assists in a March 6 win in Gainesville after shooting 3-for-12 in the home loss to the Gators. He'll be charged with leading the way and making sure LSU players are engaged following a chaotic week.
LSU 69
Florida 64
No. 5 Auburn
Overall: 23-9 SU, 16-15-1 ATS
Totals: 16-15-1 O/U

No. 4 South Carolina
Overall: 16-15 SU, 14-17 ATS
Totals: 19-12 O/U
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 4 South Carolina (SEC, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The Tigers survived a poor shooting game from point guard Jared Harper, who didn't score his first field goal until late, to win for the sixth time in seven games in advancing past Missouri, covering a nine-point spread with effective free-throw shooting despite surrendering 15 3-point makes. Top forward Chuma Okeke wrestled with foul trouble against Mizzou and doesn't look 100 percent with his foot bothering him, so Auburn could be vulnerable as a result. Head coach Bruce Pearl has made no secret that he's less than thrilled with this matchup since the Gamecocks have been trouble for his squad. Auburn lost this season's only meeting 80-77 in Columbia, shooting just 7-for-25 from 3-point range while being outrebounded. A win here would give it a season-long six-game winning streak. The 'over' has connected in four of their last five games.

South Carolina won its first four league games and ended up getting a bye over the Tigers by virtue of its head-to-head tiebreaker, so Frank Martin is hoping not having to play yesterday will help make the difference in a complicated matchup with the Tigers. Versatile forward Chris Silva scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the win over Auburn on Jan. 22, but guard A.J. Lawson struggled and shot 2-for-9, missing five of his six 3-point attempts. Lawson, who was named to the SEC All-Freshman team, has missed the last three games with an ankle injury but is expected to return here. He'll come off the bench behind SEC Sixth Man of the Year Hassani Gravett since Martin is opting for continuity and fresh legs due to a double-bye to help them advance here, likely locking up an NIT bid. A win would give the Gamecocks their first SEC Tourney semifinals appearance since '06.
Auburn 73
South Carolina 68
No. 10 Alabama
Overall: 18-14 SU, 13-18-1 ATS
Totals: 15-16-1 O/U

No. 2 Kentucky
Overall: 26-5 SU, 15-15-1 ATS
Totals: 11-20 O/U
No. 10 Alabama vs. No. 2 Kentucky (SEC, 7 p.m. ET)
Tevin Mack scored 21 points off the bench to help the Tide rally past Ole Miss for an important victory that keeps them alive for an at-large bid on Selection Sunday. Avery Johnson is 6-0 in SEC Tourney games against teams not named Kentucky, which would ordinarily be a fantastic omen if this game weren't against the Wildcats, who have eliminated the Crimson Tide in three straight years. 'Bama outrebounded Ole Miss 43-29 and doubled it up 38-19 in the second half yesterday afternoon, but it's unlikely it can overcome another slow start in what will essentially be a "road" atmosphere given how well "Big Blue Nation" travels. Alabama beat Kentucky 77-75 in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 5 in a game where both teams saw all five starters score in double-figures. Mack played hero with a game-high 22 points, shooting 6-for-8 from 3-point range. A similar performance here would be ideal. The 'under' is 9-1 over Bama's last 10 games.

Head coach John Calipari said he anticipates senior grad transfer Reid Travis returning to the UK frontcourt following a five-game absence due to a sprained knee. The 'Cats went 4-1 without him helping hold things down in the post, but they missed him in the loss to Tennessee and welcome the pressure he takes off forward P.J. Washington inside. Freshmen Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro were excellent down the stretch and will now experience postseason basketball for the first time, so we'll see how they respond. With a revenge factor in play, Travis back and Calipari reporting that his young team has practiced well this week, odds are good that Kentucky will continue its dominance of Alabama in this event. The 'under' has prevailed in 11 of 14 games involving Kentucky.
Kentucky 76
Alabama 65
No. 6 Mississippi St.
Overall: 23-9 SU, 16-14-2 ATS
Totals: 15-17 O/U

No. 3 Tennessee
Overall: 27-4 SU, 15-14-1 ATS
Totals: 16-14 O/U
No. 6 Mississippi St. vs. No. 3 Tennessee (SEC, 9:30 p.m. ET)
The Bulldogs got up 15-4 and destroyed Texas A&M on Thursday night, dominating from start to finish. They now get an opportunity to pull off an upset by avenging their second-most lopsided loss of the season, a 71-54 loss on March 5 that saw them finish with a season-low scoring output. Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 12 points and added nine assists and three steal but was held to just 3-for-12 shooting and committed eight turnovers against the Vols. Younger brother Nick Weatherspoon remains suspended. Lamar Peters scored a team-high 15 points in the blowout of A&M and will need to improve on his 2-for-10 shooting display in Knoxville for the Bulldogs to have a chance in this one. The 'under' is 8-2 in Mississippi State's last 10 games.

The Vols haven't won the SEC Tournament since 1979, so this senior-laden group that has already made a lot of history is looking to make some more in Nashville after reaching the final last season. Tennessee is just 8-8 at Bridgestone Arena but did eliminate Mississippi State 62-59 last year. SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams finished with 14 points and 10 boards in the win over the Bulldogs 10 days ago, while fellow forward Admiral Schofield led the way with 18 points. Williams is the first player in the conference to be named top player in consecutive years since Arkansas' Corliss Williamson managed the feat in '94-'95.
Tennessee 77
Mississippi St. 70

Thursday, March 14
Second Round
Matchup Records Skinny Projection
No. 9 Arkansas
Overall: 17-14 SU, 14-17 ATS
Totals: 10-20-1 O/U

No. 8 Florida
Overall: 17-14 SU, 13-18 ATS
Totals: 10-21 O/U
No. 9 Arkansas vs. No. 8 Florida (SEC, 1 p.m. ET)
The Razorbacks are led by 6-foot-11 center Daniel Gafford and freshman wing Isaiah Joe, but they don’t have much help, which is one reason the Hogs were unable to effectively employ the high-pressure approach Mike Anderson and the program has become synonymous with. The Hogs come in on a three-game winning streak that matches their second-longest stretch of success this season. They’ve won the tight games that eluded them earlier in the season but are now stuck in a spoiler role as a result. Sophomore guard Mason Jones scored 30 points in a 57-51 loss to Florida on Jan. 9. Reserve freshman guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson is listed as a game-time decision with a foot injury. Arkansas was among the nation’s worst rebounding teams despite Gafford’s presence and fouled more than any other SEC team.

The Gators have to be considered a bubble team since they lack quality wins outside of a victory over regular-season champ LSU, who they played extremely tough this season. Losing at home to Georgia to open the month was a crippling blow that requires Florida to survive the Hogs and beat LSU in order to avoid their first NIT appearance under Mike White. Freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard has had his ups and downs while senior wings Jalen Hudson and Kevaughn Allen haven’t performed to expectations. Florida beat Arkansas in Fayetteville for its first league win but can no longer rely on injured forward Keith Stone to help on Gafford. The ‘under’ has connected in nine of 11 games involving UF.
Florida 70
Arkansas 66
No. 12 Missouri
Overall: 15-16 SU, 14-14-3 ATS
Totals: 15-16 O/U

No. 5 Auburn
Overall: 22-9 SU, 15-15-1 ATS
Totals: 15-15-1 O/U
No. 12 Missouri vs. No. 5 Auburn (SEC, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The Tigers rallied past Georgia on Wednesday night, getting a career-high 30 points from Jordan Geist to win the opening game of this tournament. They’ll face a short turnaround against an athletic Auburn team that is likely to pressure and make Mizzou feel the burden of playing two games in roughly 20 hours. The ‘Dawgs were up at halftime but ultimately were overcome in the second half as Geist led the charge to get Cuonzo Martin his first postseason win since taking over in Columbia. Auburn handed Mizzou its worst loss under its second-year head coach, crushing the visiting Tigers 92-58 on Jan. 30 by forcing 20 turnovers and holding Geist without an assist. Point guard Xavier Pinson had six turnovers in the loss and wrestled with foul trouble last night, so he should at least be somewhat fresh.

Auburn has won five of six and come off a terrific win over Tennessee, so it is certainly capable of winning four straight in Nashville to likely work its way up into a top-three seed despite finishing fifth in SEC play. Bruce Pearl’s team is talented enough to pull it off since they simply lost a few games they shouldn’t have but have largely been formidable outside of an embarrassing 27-point loss to Kentucky. Restoring their swagger is what this tournament is all about for this set of Tigers, who opened 2-4 in conference play to foil any chance of a second straight regular-season title. Versatile sophomore forward Chuma Okeke leads a balanced group that also features senior guards Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and Malik Dunbar. Harper has been at his best down the stretch and had team-highs of 16 points and five assists in the blowout of Mizzou.
Auburn 83
Missouri 72
No. 10 Alabama
Overall: 17-14 SU, 12-18-1 ATS
Totals: 15-15-1 O/U

No. 7 Ole Miss
Overall: 20-11 SU, 23-8 ATS
Totals: 13-17-1 O/U
No. 10 Alabama vs. No. 7 Ole Miss (SEC, 7 p.m. ET)
Realistically, the Crimson Tide probably needs two victories -- next up is Kentucky -- to get back in the selection committee's good graces, but they at least have a shot of salvaging things in Avery Johnson's third season. He's trying to reach a second straight Big Dance after getting 'Bama back in the NCAA Tourney mix for the first time since 2012 and has replaced lottery pick Collin Sexton's production with the help of 17-year old Kira Lewis, an elite recruit who hasn't disappointed. There's a chance he's wearing down since the Tide has won just twice in their last eight games (1-7 ATS) and Lewis has shot just 35.6 percent over the last six. The 'under' is 8-1 over Bama's last nine.

The Rebels snapped a frustrating three-game losing streak that included tight home losses to Tennessee and Kentucky by beating Missouri in Columbia on Saturday, so there's no pressure on them here. They'll be dancing. For first-year head coach Kermit Davis, who was crowned the conference's Coach of the Year, this will be his first chance to test himself in an SEC Tournament. Guard Breein Tyree was named an All-SEC first-teamer after averaging 18.5 points and shooting roughly 40 percent from 3-point range. He's scored at least 14 points in 13 straight games since Bama held him to nine points in their 74-53 loss in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 22. .
Alabama 70
Ole Miss 66
No. 11 Texas A&M
Overall: 14-17 SU, 15-15-1 ATS
Totals: 12-19 O/U

No. 6 Mississippi St.
Overall: 22-9 SU, 15-14-2 ATS
Totals: 15-16 O/U
No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 6 Mississippi St. (SEC, 9:30 p.m. ET)
Texas A&M held Vandy without a first-half 3-pointer to jump all over it and hand it a 20th consecutive loss, so it is hard to get too excited about the Aggies’ blowout win. Sophomore wing Savion Flagg scored a career-high 29 points and looks to be in the type of flow that should have the Bulldogs on alert. Flagg scored a team-high 23 points in a 92-81 loss to Mississippi State in the regular-season finale in Starkville. Top scorer Wendell Mitchell shot 1-for-7 from 3-point range in the loss and will likely be the x-factor here as the Ags try and extend embattled head coach Billy Kennedy’s tenure for at least one more game.

It doesn't sound like suspended sophomore guard Nick Weatherspoon will return in this tournament. He's missed seven games and Mississippi State is 5-2 without him, but not having him definitely decreases the likelihood they'll be able to win four games in as many days. Older brother Quinndary Weatherspoon is the leader and top scorer (18.5 ppg) and was named First-Team All-SEC, while senior big man Aric Holman and excellent freshman Reggie Perry hold down the paint as 6-foot-10 towers inside. The duo combined for 23 points and 15 boards in the March 9 win over A&M. The 'under' is on a 7-2 run in Bulldogs' games.
Mississippi St. 79
Texas A&M 73

Wednesday, March 13
First Round
Matchup Records Skinny Projection
No. 13 Georgia
Overall: 11-20 SU, 14-17 ATS
Totals: 13-18 O/U

No. 12 Missouri
Overall: 14-16 SU, 13-14-3 ATS
Totals: 14-16 O/U
No. 13 Georgia vs. No. 12 Missouri (SEC, 7:00 p.m. ET)
Tom Crean's first season in Athens hasn't had many highlights. The 'Dawgs won at Florida and upset Texas at home. That's pretty much it. Georgia has lost 15 of 17 and got drilled 64-39 by Missouri on Senior Day back on March 6, killing all momentum from their Gators upset. They averaged 42.5 points over their last two games and have seen the 'under' connect in five of six. Seniors Nicolas Claxton and Derek Ogbeide must help control the paint and be more efficient around the basket to pull off an upset.

Since forward Jontay Porter was lost for the season before it even began, the Tigers have been fighting an uphill battle in Cuonzo Martin's second season. They need to make a deep run to even flirt with .500 and would love to get their young roster some valuable experience since there has been improvement. They come into this tournament with wins in two of three games for the first time in 2019 but list solid freshman guard Javon Pickett as questionable for this one due to back trouble. Mizzou held Georgia to 25.5 percent shooting in its meeting earlier this month.
Missouri 70
Georgia 62
No. 14 Vanderbilt
Overall: 9-22 SU, 11-20 ATS
Totals: 10-19-2 O/U

No. 11 Texas A&M
Overall: 13-17 SU, 14-15-1 ATS
Totals: 12-18 O/U
No. 14 Vanderbilt vs. No. 11 Texas A&M (SEC, 9:30 p.m. ET)
After a winless run through SEC play, Bryce Drew is hoping his team can avoid a 20th loss or at least show a little backbone in going out against the Aggies. The 'Dores have lost their last two games by 57 points but did play A&M tougher than most SEC foes, losing 64-57 in College Stateion on March 2. Losing prized recruit Darius Garland five games in was a blow this young group couldn't come back from, but sophomore Saben Lee and freshmen Aaron Nesmith and Simisola Shittu are still capable of producing an upset. The 'under' has prevailed in 10 straight Vandy games.

Head coach Billy Kennedy will probably not be back after a disappointing season that has seen attendance drop off and more wins than losses for the first time since his first season leading the program back in '12. They've been without senior guard T.J. Starks the past few weeks and will need guard Wendell Mitchell to snap out of his shooting slump since he's shot just 5-for-27 from 3-point range over his past four contests. The 'under' has connected in seven of the last 10 games involving A&M.
Texas A&M 70
Vanderbilt 65