In & around SEC men’s basketball

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

Alabama Week 8 Recap 

After losing to Auburn by nearly 20 points earlier in the season, the Crimson Tide avenged that loss in dominating fashion last Saturday (Mar. 1) in Tuscaloosa. Alabama posted a 73-57 win behind 24 points from Levi Randolph and 16 points from Trevor Releford. The Crimson Tide narrowly lost to Kentucky on Tuesday, dropping their record to 12-18 overall and 6-11 in league play. Alabama welcomes Arkansas to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday (Mar. 8) for the Tide’s regular season finale. 

Auburn Week 8 Recap 

Auburn lost a pair of games last week, including a crushing 82-54 home loss to Tennessee on Senior Night. The Tigers dropped to 13-15 overall, and 5-12 in conference play. Auburn travels to College Station to take on Texas A&M on Saturday (Mar. 8). 

SEC Men’s Basketball Rankings

1. Florida (28-2, 17-0)

2. Arkansas (21-9, 10-7)

3. Kentucky (22-8, 12-5)

4. Tennessee (19-11, 10-7)

5. Georgia (17-12, 11-6)

6. Missouri (21-9, 9-8)

7. LSU (17-11, 8-8)

8. Texas A&M (17-13, 8-9)

9. Ole Miss (17-13, 8-9)

10. Vanderbilt (15-13, 7-9)

11. Alabama (12-18, 6-11)

12. Auburn (13-15, 5-12)

13. South Carolina (13-15, 4-13)

14. Mississippi State (13-17, 3-14)

Week 9 Previews and Predictions 

(Week 8: 11-2; season: 69-27)

Saturday, March 8

Florida at Kentucky. The Gators have already clinched the regular season SEC title, and a win over Kentucky would make them the first team to ever finish 18-0 in conference play. Unless something drastic occurs in the next week, Florida will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. On Saturday, the Wildcats have an opportunity to finally win a marquee game. Kentucky’s best win of the season came over Louisville at Rupp Arena, but the ‘Cats haven’t done much in SEC play. A loss to lowly South Carolina last week was the worst of John Calipari’s tenure as head coach. A win in Gainesville would be an exceptional victory heading into the postseason. Prediction: Florida 71, Kentucky 65. 

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss. As recently as a few weeks ago, the Rebels were on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss has lost five of their last six games, however, including a 30-point thrashing at Arkansas. Ole Miss might make the NIT, but Saturday is definitely Marshall Henderson’s last regular season home game as a Rebel. Prediction: Ole Miss 76, Vanderbilt 68. 

Auburn at Texas A&M. The Tigers nearly upset Florida on the road a couple of weeks ago, but since then Tony Barbee’s team has been a disaster. Consecutive blowout losses to Alabama and Tennessee might very well mean the end is near for Barbee’s tenure as Auburn head coach. Prediction: Texas A&M 67, Auburn 56.

Missouri at Tennessee. This is the most important game of the season for both teams. The Volunteers and the Tigers are on the bubble, and this game is essentially a play-in game for both squads. Missouri won the first meeting in Columbia, but the Tigers have been subpar away from home. Tennessee is playing its best basketball of the season, and Cuonzo Martin should be able to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in Knoxville. Prediction: Tennessee 65, Missouri 60. 

South Carolina at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs finally have a decent chance to end their 12-game losing streak. The loser of this game will finish last in the SEC and will likely play Alabama or Vanderbilt in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Frank Martin picked up one of the biggest wins of his career last week as the Gamecocks knocked off Kentucky in Columbia. Prediction: Mississippi State 67, South Carolina 64. 

Arkansas at Alabama. After defeating Kentucky in Lexington, Arkansas is in position to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. A loss to Alabama, however, would drastically impair the Razorbacks’ chances. Despite only winning 12 games, Alabama has played well at home this season. Prediction: Arkansas 70, Alabama 67. 

Georgia at LSU. A win for the Bulldogs would give them the third seed in the SEC Tournament next week. If LSU wins, the Tigers could finish as high as the fifth seed. However, a loss could send them all the way down to a ninth seed. The Tigers should make the NIT this season, and they’re dangerous enough to make a run in the SEC Tournament. Prediction: LSU 72, Georgia 66. 

NCAA Tournament locks

Florida. The Gators have earned a No. 1 seed, and if they win the SEC Tournament, they might receive the overall No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. 

Kentucky. The Wildcats certainly have struggled recently, but they’re definitely in the NCAA Tournament. If they can knock off Florida either on the road or in the SEC Tournament, the Gators could be in play for a fourth seed. 

NCAA on the bubble

Arkansas. A recent surge probably has the Hogs on the right side of the bubble, but there isn’t much room for error. A win over Alabama on Saturday and one win in the SEC Tournament should be enough for Mike Anderson’s team. 

Tennessee. The Vols have played well recently and have a 35-point blowout victory over ACC champion Virginia on their resume. A win over Missouri on Saturday and a win in the SEC Tournament should get the Volunteers in as a No. 11 or No. 12 seed. 

Missouri. Mizzou is on the wrong side of the bubble at this point and has a lot of work to do to make the Big Dance. A win over Tennessee is a must, and the Tigers also probably need at least two wins in the SEC Tournament. The chances are slim, but the Tigers are dangerous enough to make a run in Atlanta. 

Must win in SEC Tournament

LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State. 

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