By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 9 Review
Auburn’s losses have all come in pairs so far this season. After last Saturday’s road loss at Kentucky, the Tigers lost at home for the first time all season against Texas A&M in a disappointing effort. Auburn is comfortably in the NCAA Tournament and likely will have a double bye in the SEC Tournament, but the recent skid will likely impact the Tigers’ seeding for March Madness. In all likelihood, AU will be looking at a No. 6 or possibly a No. 7 seed.Auburn is 24-6 overall and 11-6 in the SEC and finish the regular season this Saturday (March 7) at Tennessee.
Alabama Week 9 Review
Alabama’s NCAA Tournament at-large chances all but came to an end at Coleman Coliseum last Saturday. The Crimson Tide’s hopes were on life support already, but a home loss to Vanderbilt – a team that hadn’t won a road conference game in two years – was the final nail in the coffin. Alabama can still make the national tournament if it wins four games in four days in the SEC tourney next week, but that will be an uphill battle. Nate Oats’ team dropped to 16-14 overall and 8-9 in the SEC. UA travels to Missouri on Saturday for its regular season conference finale.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Kentucky (24-6, 14-3)
2. Auburn (24-6, 11-6)
3. Florida (19-11, 11-6)
4. LSU (20-10, 11-6)
5. Mississippi State (19-11, 10-7)
6. South Carolina (18-12, 10-7)
7. Arkansas (19-11, 7-10)
8. Tennessee (17-13, 9-8)
9. Texas A&M (15-14, 9-8)
10. Alabama (16-14, 8-9)
11. Missouri (14-16, 6-11)
12. Georgia (15-15, 5-12)
13. Ole Miss (15-15, 6-11)
14. Vanderbilt (10-20, 2-15)
Week 10 Previews and Predictions
Saturday, March 7
Game of the Week: Kentucky at Florida. Both teams will make the NCAA Tournament, and Florida will be looking to avenge a loss to the Wildcats from two weeks ago. The Gators are playing well but are still in search of a signature win for their resume. Kentucky was playing as well as anyone in the country before losing at home to Tennessee. The Wildcats already have the SEC regular season crown locked up but are still playing to improve their seeding. Prediction: Florida 72, Kentucky 68.
Auburn at Tennessee. When these two teams met two weeks ago, Auburn stormed back from a 17-point deficit to knock off the Vols, 73-66. Since then, Tennessee won back-to-back games over Florida and Kentucky and is looking to make a late surge to the bubble. A win over Auburn would not put the Vols in the NCAA Tournament field, but it would give them a chance entering the SEC Tournament. Prediction: Tennessee 70, Auburn 65.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt. South Carolina’s at-large chances are hanging by a thread, and a win at an improving Vanderbilt squad is imperative. However, a win Saturday won’t help very much. The Gamecocks have plenty of work to do next week in Nashville for the SEC Tournament and likely will need a couple of wins to have a chance. Prediction: South Carolina 81, Vanderbilt 78.
Georgia at LSU. After a terrific start in conference play, LSU has struggled in recent weeks. The Tigers remain in position for a double bye in the SEC Tournament and will comfortably make the NCAA Tournament field of 68. However, it’s concerning for Will Wade’s team that the Tigers are seemingly playing their worst basketball of the season in March. Prediction: LSU 85, Georgia 77.
Alabama at Missouri. Regardless of how Alabama plays on Saturday, they need to win the SEC title to make the Big Dance. It’s not an impossible task, but the Crimson Tide has not shown the consistency necessary to win four games in four days. The absence of John Petty has hurt, but Alabama still should have beaten Vanderbilt at home. A win on the road at Missouri would help with morale entering the conference tourney next week. Prediction: Alabama 88, Missouri 84.
Arkansas at Texas A&M. Texas A&M surprisingly has been a thorn in the side of everyone in the SEC this year. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Buzz Williams’ first season but they Aggies are playing solid basketball. If they beat Arkansas, they can possibly end the Hogs’ NCAA Tournament chances. Arkansas has played well since the return of Isaiah Joe but will be challenged on the road on Saturday. Prediction: Arkansas 82, Texas A&M 77.
Ole Miss at Mississippi State. Mississippi State probably is closer to making the NCAA Tournament field than all the other bubble teams in the SEC, but the Bulldogs are far from a lock. They first must avenge the double-digit loss to Ole Miss from a few weeks back. They then would need at least one win in the conference tournament next week in Nashville. Prediction: Mississippi State 77, Ole Miss 70.