2015 SEC Tournament Expert Picks and Betting Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/10/2015
Kentucky is going to win the SEC Tournament.
The Wildcats have dominated this second-rate conference all season long and followed last year’s Florida team’s lead by posting an undefeated 18-0 league mark this season. Kentucky is 31-0 and is looking to pick up three more wins in their quest for a perfect season. They should have little problem doing so against the rest of this rag-tag league.
The SEC Tournament will take place at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. It starts on Wednesday, March 11 and will conclude Sunday afternoon. Here is Doc’s Sports SEC Tournament preview with odds to win courtesy of Sportsbook.ag:
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The Favorite: Kentucky (-500)
There shouldn’t be much about the Wildcats that you don’t already know. And if you aren’t familiar with their work then you shouldn’t be betting on this tournament or, frankly, any college basketball. Kentucky’s defining characteristic is that they are massive. They suit up four guys 6-foot-10 or taller, and they simply pummel teams on both ends of the court with that size. Kentucky has several good guards as well, including the Harrison twins. But their best player is clearly Karl-Anthony Towns. And any time this team gets into trouble they pound the ball into him on the low block and crash the offensive glass. The Wildcats will have a strong fan following in Nashville, and by the semifinals it will feel like they are playing in Rupp Arena. This is not one of the greatest teams of all-time. But they are certainly good enough to walk through this tournament and claim another conference title.
The Contender: Field (+500)
You would think that maybe Arkansas or LSU has a chance to upset the Wildcats. But they don’t. I could see either one of those teams losing as a big favorite in their opening game. Neither plays well on the road, and both play down to their level of competition. Georgia played about as well as they could possibly play and had Kentucky on the ropes. But that was at home. A rematch on a neutral court won’t go well for them. I think that Ole Miss or Texas A&M could give the Wildcats a game – both took the Cats to overtime this season – but they both would have to win two tough games just to set up that rematch. Truly, there is no one in this field that should be expected to stay within double-digits of the Wildcats.
The Sleeper: Georgia (+1200)
The Bulldogs are probably the most consistent and least flaky contender in the field. They don’t have the upside or the high-end talent of LSU or Arkansas. But they do have a good system. They execute Mark Fox’s sets with precision, and they have good guard play. Georgia is experienced as well. But they are a little light in the post and they have a tough road. Their quarterfinal against Ole Miss should be one of the tournament’s better games. But if they win that one I think they will take down whoever remains from the Vanderbilt/Tennessee/Arkansas contingent. The Bulldogs have proven that they can beat mediocre teams. But they lose to pretty much any good team they square up against. So if they can beat Ole Miss they could make the finals before getting wrecked by Kentucky.
The Spoiler: Ole Miss (+500)
The Rebels are ice-cold coming into this week’s action, losing three of their last four games to close the regular season. That includes an embarrassing home loss to Vanderbilt in their final home game. But I like Ole Miss’s guards a lot, especially Stefan Moody and Jarvis Summers. Ole Miss has a lot of veterans – they start three seniors and seven of their top eight guys are upperclassmen – and these guys have the salt to make a run. They lost both regular-season games to UGA by five points or less and they lost to the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament last year. That’s a lot of pent-up revenge. If they win that game (which would be their second) then this team would have a full head of steam going into the semifinals. Ole Miss has some impressive road wins, including winning at Oregon and Arkansas, and that tells me that they can handle playing at a neutral site.
Bubble Team To Keep An Eye On: Texas A&M (+500)
Like Ole Miss, the Aggies are a good team that has faded down the stretch while losing three of four, including an embarrassing home loss in their final home game. But the Aggies are a deep team, routinely playing nine guys, and that could help them if they have to play three or four games. The Aggies are headed for the NIT right now. But if they can win their second-round game, knock off shaky LSU, and then play Kentucky tough then they could make a case. They will be without leading scorer Danuel House. But a quick scan around the country tells me that every team lately that’s lost a key player seems to be playing better. Will they make this run? Probably not. But they are the one SEC team with a chance to play its way into The Big Dance.
Early Round Matchup To Watch:
No. 7 Vanderbilt (-4.5) vs. No. 10 Tennessee (7 p.m., Wednesday, March 12)
It is very tough to say who is going to win that Vanderbilt-Tennessee game in the opener. Vandy has won five straight and eight of 10. But Tennessee won the only meeting, in Nashville, and the Volunteers have been overachieving all season long. Tennessee has the best player on the court in Josh Richardson. But the Commodores have the ignorant confidence of youth. One of the nation’s least experienced rosters, the Commodores start four combined freshmen and sophomores. This Vanderbilt team has rallied around Kevin Stallings after controversy about how he spoke to his players cropped up a couple weeks ago. But they are playing over their heads, and Tennessee, which has beaten decent teams like Kansas State and Butler, could jump up and bite them.
SEC Conference Tournament Predictions: I’ll come full circle with this one: Kentucky will win the SEC Tournament. The end. The SEC stinks. LSU and Arkansas are probably the only two teams with a chance to beat the Wildcats because both of those teams feature some NBA-caliber talent. But both the Tigers and Razorbacks have been flakes. It’s impossible to predict that either of them would be able to hold it together long enough to make a run. And teams like Georgia and Ole Miss would be swimming out of their depth in a championship showdown with the Wildcats. Kentucky will add three more wins to its resume and win this tournament easily.
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