By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 9 Review
The Tigers had their best week of the season as they earned wins over Mississippi State and Alabama, and AU is rapidly improving its seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to 24 points from Bryce Brown, Auburn knocked off Mississippi State, 80-75, in Auburn Arena. Three days later, the Tigers erased a 13-point deficit to defeat Alabama for the second time this season. Auburn won, 66-60. Chuma Okeke scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the win. The Tigers improved to 21-9 overall and 10-7 in the SEC. They host Tennessee this Saturday (March 9) for the regular season finale for both teams.
Alabama Week 9 Review
Alabama had an opportunity to earn a very important Quadrant 1 win at home against LSU and Auburn, but the Crimson Tide suffered two close defeats. LSU outlasted Alabama 74-69, and Auburn stormed back for a 66-60 victory on Tuesday. Alabama’s NCAA Tournament chances took a slight hit with those losses, but a win on Saturday over Arkansas would improve the Alabama’s chances. Avery Johnson’s team dropped to 17-13 overall and 8-9 in the conference.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Kentucky (25-5, 14-3)
2. Tennessee (27-3, 15-2)
3. LSU (25-5, 15-2)
4. Auburn (21-9, 10-7)
5. Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8)
6. Ole Miss (19-11, 9-8)
7. Florida (17-13, 9-8)
8. Alabama (17-13, 8-9)
9. South Carolina (15-15, 10-7)
10. Texas A&M (13-16, 6-11)
11. Arkansas (16-14, 7-10)
12. Missouri (14-15, 5-12)
13. Georgia (11-19, 2-15)
14. Vanderbilt (9-21, 0-17)
Week 10 Previews and Predictions
Season record: 70-28
Saturday, March 9
Game of the Week: Tennessee at Auburn. Both the Tigers and Volunteers are locks for the NCAA Tournament but there’s still a lot at stake on Saturday. Auburn can still earn a double bye in the SEC Tournament if the Tigers can win, while Tennessee can still win at least a share of the SEC regular season title for the second consecutive season. The Vols could also earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they continue winning. Auburn knocked off Tennessee last year in the only meeting between the two teams, and the Tigers have only lost at home twice all season. Prediction: Auburn 83, Tennessee 79.
Georgia at South Carolina. Despite a .500 record overall, South Carolina has an opportunity to earn a double bye in the SEC tournament. The Gamecocks are 10-7 in the SEC, and a win over Georgia would give them the No. 4 seed. A double bye would move South Carolina into the quarterfinals, and Frank Martin’s teams have had success in the past in the conference tournament. Georgia just won its biggest game of the season on the road at Florida, and the Gators are looking to build for the future under first-year coach Tom Crean. Prediction: South Carolina 70, Georgia 66.
Texas A&M at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, who suffered back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Auburn, return to the friendly confines of Starkville for the season finale against Texas A&M. Mississippi State is safely in the NCAA Tournament field but has room to improve its seeding. Prediction: Mississippi State 76, Texas A&M 65.
Florida at Kentucky. Florida’s five-game winning streak likely vaulted the Gators into the NCAA Tournament field, but a recent setback to Georgia hurt their resume. A win over Kentucky on the road would leave no doubt, but Florida probably will be in the field even with a few losses to end the year. On the other hand, Kentucky has the potential to earn a No. 1 seed if the Wildcats win the SEC Tournament, and the last No. 1 seed likely will come down to the Wildcats and Tennessee. Prediction: Kentucky 78, Florida 70.
Ole Miss at Missouri. The Rebels were safely in the NCAA Tournament field as recently as three weeks ago, but they dropped three games in a row and four of their last five. Granted, those losses were to Kentucky, Tennessee and on the road at Arkansas, but Ole Miss needs a win on Saturday entering the conference tournament. Otherwise, the Rebels could slip to the bubble, which is a dangerous place to be on Selection Sunday. Prediction: Ole Miss 75, Missouri 73.
Alabama at Arkansas. Alabama desperately needs a win to keep its NCAA Tournament chances alive, and UA must earn that win away from home. A win at Arkansas qualifies as a Quad 1 win, which would certainly help the Crimson Tide’s NCAA Tournament resume. Had Alabama beaten Auburn or LSU, this would not have been a must-win game. However, those losses made this game a necessity for the Tide. If Bama loses, it will likely must win two or three games in the SEC Tournament. Prediction: Alabama 74, Arkansas 72.
Vanderbilt at LSU. It’s been a remarkable season for LSU and a forgettable year for Vanderbilt. The Tigers have an opportunity to win the SEC in Will Wade’s second season and currently are projected as a No. 3 seed. The Commodores have struggled all year and remain winless in the SEC. Bryce Drew and the Commodores are in a rebuilding year, but an upset over LSU would send them out on a positive note. Prediction: LSU 82, Vanderbilt 70.