|Georgia at Auburn||7:00 PM||ESPNU/WatchESPN|
|Tennessee at Texas A&M||7:00 PM||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
|Stetson at Alabama||8:00 PM||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|Kentucky at Ole Miss||8:00 PM||ESPN2/WatchESPN|
|UMKC at Mississippi State||8:00 PM||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|Lipscomb at Missouri||8:00 PM||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|Florida at Arkansas||9:00 PM||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
|Vanderbilt at LSU||9:00 PM||ESPNU/WatchESPN|
The SEC starts conference play tonight with five games. Out of that slate, the most intriguing games are Georgia at Auburn (7:00 PM ET) and Florida at Arkansas (9:00 PM ET). Auburn is 10-2 with wins over Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and UConn, but there are still some lingering questions about whether the Tigers are a realistic NCAA Tournament contender and while UGA has been a bit of a disappointment, a win for Auburn would do quite a bit to quell some of those concerns. Arkansas is 11-1, but the Razorbacks’ best win came either against UT-Arlington (who’s no slouch, but still) at home or over a disappointing Texas team in Houston. Florida is a legitimately good team, so a win for the Razorbacks would go a long way toward an NCAA Tournament berth.
I wouldn’t say that Kentucky is on upset alert — Ole Miss’s only hope is to outscore the Wildcats, and the only team that’s really been able to do that was UCLA, which has one of the best offenses in the country. Texas A&M hosts Tennessee, and while the Vols appear to be better than expected the Aggies can’t afford a home loss. And, Vanderbilt looks to erase the stench of a 6-6 start in Baton Rouge.
Alabama, Mississippi State, and Missouri won’t be starting SEC play; those three (along with South Carolina) aren’t participating in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, so they’ll play a conference game on that weekend. Those three will face a final tuneup on Thursday night before starting conference play next week.
Odds and Picks
Season to Date: 49-72-1 ATS
- Georgia at Auburn (-2.5): With this small of a line, it’s basically a bet on whether Auburn can defend its home court. I think Auburn’s momentum from nonconference play will carry over into the SEC opener and they’ll start 1-0.
- Tennessee at Texas A&M (-8.5): Looking beneath the hood, Tennessee has depended a lot on getting to the foul line and making its free throws, and Texas A&M (a) is playing at home (insert conspiracy theories about SEC refs) and (b) doesn’t send teams to the line that often. Also, Tennessee doesn’t really have anyone who can contain Tyler Davis. This matchup favors the Aggies.
- Kentucky at Ole Miss (+11): I keep going back and forth on this, which should tell you a lot about how strongly I feel about this. Kentucky can win this game by 20 if they feel like it, but I suspect this will be one of those games where the other team just hangs around all night for no particular reason.
- Florida at Arkansas (-1): Florida might well be a better team than Arkansas, but, well, weird stuff happens in Fayetteville.
- Vanderbilt (+2) at LSU: If LSU hasn’t figured out how to defend the three-point line since that loss to Wake Forest last week, it’s going to be a long night.