College Basketball Betting: SEC Tournament Preview
by Robert Ferringo - 03/12/2009
Your guess is as good as mine.
I am a professional handicapper. This is what I do for a living and I've watched more hours of college basketball in one season than some people see in their entire lives. Yet, entering this week's SEC Tournament I can honestly say that I have no idea what is going to shake out at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
The SEC has been one of the strangest conferences in the country this season. That's a result of a lack of depth and experience, weak point guard play, injuries and some shaky coaching situations. The result has been one of the most unpredictable leagues that I can remember and what should be one of the wilder conference tournaments on the board.
Move over 2008 Georgia Bulldogs. You may have company after this one is finished.
Here is Doc's Sports 2009 SEC Conference Tournament preview:
LSU - The Tigers were the runaway SEC champions this year and truly the only respectable club in the conference. They are coming off a flat 16-point loss at Auburn last weekend and are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games, but the Tigers are legit and are clearly the best team in the league. That said, they are not unbeatable. They have won six of their last eight games but all six of those wins were by seven points or less, with the average margin at just 4.8 points. That makes them beatable and they will be likely be laying a big number simply because they are the top seed.
Tennessee - This Vols team is all over the map. And the main reason for their struggles is the fact that this team relies on freshmen guards. That doesn't usually bode well come tournament time. Tennessee gets a bye in the first round but then will have to face one of the hotter teams in the league - either Alabama in a revenge game for Saturday's stunning home loss, or Vanderbilt. The Vols don't shoot well from behind the arc and they don't defend. Welcome to the SEC.
South Carolina - I like South Carolina. Like this team a lot. They have two great guards in Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick, and I think that their big guys are underrated. But I also think that this team is overrated. Their non-conference strength of schedule is an abysmal 335 (of 343 teams) and other than a sweep of sagging Kentucky and a split with fumbling Florida (with that win coming on a buzzer beater) USC has exactly zero wins against the Top 50.
Auburn - The Tigers have actually played their way into NCAA Tournament contention and are a serious dark horse to cut down the nets in Tampa. They have won eight of nine and are 9-0 ATS in their last nine games. Basically, they are the hottest team in the country. Three senior scorers lead them and their frantic pace on both ends of the court makes them a tough matchup. The Tigers play the Arkansas-Florida winner - which means a matchup with the Gators - and their three-point loss to UF was one of only four games that they haven't covered since Thanksgiving weekend.
Kentucky - At one point the Wildcats looked like the best team in the conference. Then they promptly lost eight of 11 games and I bet right about now the Wildcats wish they had Tubby Smith back. UK has to win out to hit the dance. But in order to do so they would have to beat an Ole Miss team that already beat them, an LSU team that already beat them, and then probably a South Carolina team that already beat them twice. And that's just to get to the finals. Good luck with that.
Florida - One of the cappers for Doc's Sports pointed out a few weeks ago that this Florida team has reverted back to Billy Donovan's selfish, overrated teams from the pre-dynasty days. He is right. Florida is just 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games. They do have one of the best players in the conference in Nick Calathes, but it simply hasn't clicked for this team. However, it is worth noting that four of their seven losses in conference were by four points or less and dating back to the start of the season seven of their nine losses have been by six points or less.
Ole Miss vs. Kentucky
The Rebels have been one of the hardest working, grittiest teams in the SEC this year. They are all heart despite being woefully shorthanded. Basically they are the exact opposite of Kentucky. Ole Miss is 5-2 ATS as an underdog and Kentucky is 2-6 ATS as a favorite. Ole Miss didn't shoot particularly well in the first meeting but won because they held Jodie Meeks to 4-for-15 shooting. If they can do that again they will cover this game.
Vanderbilt vs. Alabama
Don't look now, but the Crimson Tide and the Commodores are playing some damn fine basketball. Alabama has won four of five outright and is on a sweet 6-2-1 ATS run. Vandy has won three straight and seven of 10 and they are on a solid 6-4 ATS march. Vandy won the first meeting, but that was at home where they are always a tough out. Alabama actually covered in that game. Vandy is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 neutral site games while the Tide are 5-1 ATS in those spots. This should be a good game and I think the winner will challenge LSU.
Arkansas vs. Florida
Florida has won the SEC Tournament in three of the last four years, but this team doesn't have nearly the talent as those clubs. Arkansas is one of the more stunning teams in the country. They won 12 of their first 13, including wins over Oklahoma and Texas. Since then they have gone 2-14 and have consistently been routed. The Gators are basically playing in their backyards and beat Arkansas by 15 in their one meeting this year at UF. Also, Arkansas is just 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games.