In & around SEC men’s basketball

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

Alabama

Week 1 Preview 

The Crimson Tide men’s basketball team entered Southeastern Conference play with a 6-7 record. Although Alabama’s losses came against potential tournament teams such as UCLA, Oklahoma, and Wichita State, Anthony Grant’s team must have a stellar conference record to have a chance at making the NCAA tournament. Alabama picked up a 68-63 win over Vanderbilt to open the league schedule and travel to Athens to take on Georgia on Saturday (Jan. 11). 

Auburn Week 1 Preview 

After suffering double-digit losses to Northwestern State, Iowa State, and Illinois, the Auburn men’s basketball team finally started clicking on both ends of the court. Tony Barbee’s squad won huge home games over two ACC teams in Boston College and Clemson. The Tigers enter SEC play at 8-3, just win away from matching last season’s win total. Auburn opened the SEC season at Ole Miss on Thursday (Jan. 9) and return home on Saturday to take on Missouri. 

SEC Men’s Basketball Rankings

1. Florida (12-2, 1-0)

2. Kentucky (11-3, 1-0)

3. Tennessee (10-4, 1-0)

4. Missouri (12-2, 0-1)

5. Ole Miss (9-4, 0-0)

6. LSU (9-4, 0-1)

7. Arkansas (11-3, 0-1)

8. Alabama (7-7, 1-0)

9. Texas A&M (10-4, 1-0)

10. Georgia (7-6, 1-0)

11. Auburn (8-3, 0-0)

12. Vanderbilt (8-5, 0-1)

13. Mississippi State (10-4, 0-1)

14. South Carolina (7-7, 0-1)

Week 1 Previews and Predictions 

Saturday, Jan. 11

Missouri at Auburn. Missouri was 12-1 entering SEC play with wins over UCLA, West Virginia and N.C. State. However, the Tigers lost their conference home opener to Georgia. Missouri has a chance to get back on track against Auburn, who was picked to finish at the bottom of the SEC this season. Prediction: Missouri 73, Auburn 65. 

LSU at South Carolina. Frank Martin’s Gamecocks are off to a rough start yet again. South Carolina struggled throughout much of last season, and this year hasn’t been any better as the Gamecocks were blown out by Florida to start league play. LSU lost its conference opener to Tennessee, and this game is a must-win for the Tigers if they want a chance to make the NCAA tournament. Prediction: LSU 63, South Carolina 58. 

Florida at Arkansas. Right now, Billy Donovan’s Gators are the best team in the SEC. Florida is poised to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament. Arkansas is still having trouble winning on the road under Mike Anderson, but the Hogs are one of the best in the league at home. Prediction: Florida 77, Arkansas 75.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt. Kentucky might have the most talent in the country. However, the Wildcats are playing like an inexperienced team, although they made improvements since the beginning of the season. Vanderbilt had high expectations entering the season, but a plethora of injuries and off-the-court issues have hurt the Commodores tremendously thus far this year. Prediction: Kentucky 75, Vanderbilt 67.

Alabama at Georgia. At 7-7, Alabama cannot afford to lose many conference games this year. A loss to Georgia would be devastating for the Crimson Tide. Georgia upset Missouri on the road earlier in the week, just days after head coach Mark Fox’s father passed away. The Bulldogs have improved as the season has pro-gressed and are looking to move to 2-0 in league play on Saturday. Prediction: Alabama 56, Georgia 52. 

Ole Miss at Mississippi State. Despite a couple of disappointing home losses, the Ole Miss Rebels still have a chance to be a tournament team by the end of the season. The defending conference champions have an opportunity to knock off their rival on the road, and the Rebels are seeking revenge after losing to the Bulldogs in Starkville a season ago. Prediction: Ole Miss 72, Mississippi State 66. 

Texas A&M at Tennessee. The Aggies started conference play by handily defeating Arkansas, while the Volunteers knocked off LSU on the road. The Volunteers have a chance to contend with Florida and Kentucky for the top spot in the SEC but cannot afford to lose at home to Texas A&M. Prediction: Tennessee 70, Texas A&M 57. 

 
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