SEC Conference Tournament Preview

March 8, 2021by Action Jackson0
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SEC Conference Tournament Preview

SEC Conference Tournament Preview: Herbert Jones - Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

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Have you noticed a smell in the air today? No, not the smell of your poison farts from a weekend of punishing your body. That’s disgusting and you should seek medical attention, or at least have a vegetable or two. That fine aroma in the air is the sweet smell of college basketball action.

After a long season marked by COVID protocols and 70-year-old coaches chewing out well-meaning student reporters, we’ve made it to tournament time. We’ll be covering the conference tournament action all week long at The Odds Factory, helping you figure out how to blow your hard-earned money before March Madness kicks off next week.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the SEC Tournament. The SEC is a conference known for football that’s finally starting to get some national recognition.

The Bracket:

2021 SEC Tournament Bracket

Who’s Winning This Thing?

Here’s what our friends at FanDuel have to say about this week’s SEC Tournament:

Southeastern Conference (SEC): SEC Conference Tournament Winner 2020-2021 - Odds from FanDuel

Alabama Crimson Tide

Nothing too shocking here. I know it’s not sexy, but I’m banking heavily on the top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide to come away with the SEC title. This team is currently #5 nationally in the coach’s poll and for good reason – they dominated the SEC for the entire year, have only lost twice in conference play, and won the regular-season crown by 2 full games. The key word with Alabama is balance, especially in the backcourt. They have four guys who average 10+ points a game, 3 of whom are guards, led by sophomore Jaden Shackelford (14.4 PPG) and senior leader John Petty Jr. (12.8 PPG, 5 APG), a big, high energy guard who dominates on the defensive end.

However, the biggest X-factor for this team is senior forward Herbert Jones, who's been battling a back injury the entire year. The 2020 All-SEC defensive selection anchors their frontcourt on both ends of the floor, and if he’s at full strength, this team could easily be a Final Four contender. If he’s not, they’ll have trouble scoring in the post and stopping teams with dominant big men.

Going Against the Arkansas Razorbacks

Alabama will face a tough matchup in the finals when they go against #2-seed Arkansas, another top-10 team in the country who knocked off the Crimson Tide by 81-66 earlier in the year. While this game was a little flukey (Arkansas went on a 17-2 run over a 9 minute period, flipping a 6-point deficit into a 9-point lead), the Razorbacks exposed Alabama’s lack of a key scoring option. Moses Moody, their freshman standout who pours in 17+ points per game, had his coming-out party, with 24 points and huge buckets down the stretch.

While Arkansas has a strong team, if Alabama can handle their earlier matchups and come into the finals well-rested, their experience and overall depth should help them win the SEC Tournament and potentially secure a #1 seed for March Madness.

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Who Can Stir The Pot?

Outside of Alabama and Arkansas, the SEC is pretty wide open, with at least 4-5 solid teams jockeying for position and the chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee Volunteers are easily the most talented of the second-tier teams and can be one of the best teams in the country when they’re playing their best basketball. The only issue is that they’ve had their heads in their asses for the last month, and I can’t make heads or tails of them. I can’t figure out John Fulkerson and their Frenchman, Yves Pons, is the “Most Interesting Man in College Basketball,” but also the least consistent. After a breakout junior year, he’s taken a major step back this year. You never know what you’re going to get with these guys – they could easily run off 1-2 wins and find themselves in the finals or they can lose right off the bat. Luckily, I don’t scare easily, and I’m betting on these guys to make a run and position themselves well for the tournament.

Kentucky Wildcats

The Kentucky Wildcats had a brutal start to the year, going 1-6 and getting routinely embarrassed but have really started to gel in the last few weeks. Like most Calipari teams, it takes them a few weeks to really find their identity as a team and get into the groove – that’s what happens when your team has more freshmen than spring break at Panama City Beach. At 9-16, their only shot at making it to March Madness is winning the entire tournament, which I don’t necessarily see happening. However, the fact they have nothing to lose makes them very dangerous.

With their three-headed guard lineup of Brandon Boston, Davion Mintz, and Terrence Clarke, this team is capable of beating everyone – just ask Tennessee, who they beat by 15 two weeks ago, and Arkansas, who they nearly knocked off before falling 81-80. It’s worth throwing a unit or two on the Wildcats – they just might have a few surprises in them.

What’s on the Line?

Outside of conference pride, the real prize at the end of this weekend will be a spot in the NCAA Tournament. As it stands, the only real locks are Alabama and Arkansas. Florida, Mizzou, and Tennessee are teams that have solid résumés but really are in need of one win this weekend to secure their spot come March Madness.

The team with the most on the line has to be the LSU Tigers, who are currently right on the bubble after a disappointing season. They’ve won their last two games against Vandy and Mizzou and need to win two games this weekend (which means knocking off Arkansas, who they lost to two weeks ago) to be really confident about their spot in the tournament and secure themselves the 4-6 seed they need to position themselves for a deep run.

Get excited for a big week of college basketball and as always, make sure you’re checking in with our TomBox betting algorithm to see what the data says before making your picks.

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