In & around SEC men’s basketball

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Alabama update

Through two weeks of Southeastern Conference play, Alabama is 12-5 overall and 2-2 in conference play. The Crimson Tide started league play by defeating Texas A&M and Tennessee handily, but followed that success with losses to South Carolina and Kentucky. Alabama’s NCAA Tournament chances are slim, and the Tide will need to beat several tournament-quality teams to even be in the conversation. 

Auburn update 

The first year of the Bruce Pearl Era has had mixed results so far. Interest in Auburn basketball has increased, but the level of play is similar to the last several years. The Tigers are 10-8 overall and 2-3 in league play, and recently lost a winnable home game to Mississippi State. Auburn’s other conference losses were to Vanderbilt and Florida, and the Tigers have beaten South Carolina and Missouri. 

SEC Men’s Basketball Rankings 

1. Kentucky (18-0, 5-0)

2. LSU (14-4, 3-2)

3. Arkansas (13-4, 2-2)

4. Georgia (12-5, 3-2)

5. Florida (10-8, 3-2)

6. Tennessee (12-5, 4-1)

7. Ole Miss (11-7, 2-3)

8. Alabama (12-5, 2-2)

9. Texas A&M (12-5, 3-2)

10. Vanderbilt (11-7, 1-4)

11. Miss. State (9-9, 2-3)

12. Auburn (10-8, 2-3)

13. So. Car. (10-7, 1-4)

14. Missouri (7-11, 1-4)

Week 3 Previews and Predictions 

Saturday, Jan. 24

Kentucky at South Carolina. Kentucky has a legitimate chance to become the first team to go undefeated since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. There are some trap games upcoming for the Wildcats, and they lost at South Carolina last season. However, the ‘Cats shouldn’t have trouble with the Gamecocks this Saturday. Prediction: Kentucky 73, South Carolina 56.

Texas A&M at Tennessee. The Volunteers have been the surprise team of the SEC this season thus far. Despite losing several key contributors from a season ago, new head coach Donnie Tyndall has the Vols at 12-5 overall and 4-1 in league play. An NCAA Tournament berth isn’t out of the question, but Tennessee needs several more conference wins in order to have a chance. Prediction: Tennessee 57, Texas A&M 53.

Arkansas at Missouri. Earlier in the season, it seemed like Arkansas finally had fixed its inability to win on the road. However, the Hogs were disappointing at Tennessee last week, and Ole Miss beat them thoroughly at home. This is Mike Anderson’s best Arkansas team, but it still has a lot of work to do to be a tournament team. Prediction: Arkansas 78, Missouri 66.

Georgia at Mississippi State. Georgia’s had its sights on the NCAA Tournament all season. The Bulldogs are experienced and talented, and now just need to string together some wins. Games against teams like Mississippi State are almost must-win games for Georgia. Prediction: Georgia 61, Mississippi State 55. 

LSU at Vanderbilt. Like several other SEC teams, LSU definitely has NCAA Tournament potential. The Tigers followed up a disappointing home loss to Texas A&M by throttling Florida in Gainesville. Vanderbilt is a notoriously difficult place to play, but this is a game LSU needs to win. Prediction: LSU 72, Vanderbilt 68. 

Florida at Ole Miss. The Gators have played one of the most difficult schedules in the country, and the combination of that and the loss of several starters from last year’s Final Four team have Florida currently at 10-8. Florida will get a pass for some losses due to injuries, but if the Gators want to make the NCAA Tournament this year, they need wins quickly. Ole Miss has been up and down all season. The Rebels have shown flashes of excellent play but followed up those performances with disappointing losses. Prediction: Florida 77, Ole Miss 75. 

Auburn at Alabama. Bruce Pearl’s first Iron Bowl on the basketball floor takes place in Tuscaloosa this weekend, and both teams are in desperate need of a win. Alabama has been relatively strong at home this year, while Auburn has been terrible on the road. Bama’s height should give the Tigers trouble, and the only way Auburn will be able to stay in the game is if the Tigers limit turnovers and knock down several three-pointers. Prediction: Alabama 63, Auburn 55. 

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