For most SEC basketball games this week, there is a clear favorite and clear underdog. You can look at most of the contests and clearly see who is supposed to win.
Schedules like this are very useful, even if they lack the flash of those where all the top teams play each other. Which of the top teams can be trusted to take care of business? Which teams in the middle or lower tiers of the league are potential spoilers? That kind of information is important down the stretch, even if it's not the same as trying to definitively prove whether Kentucky, LSU or Texas A&M is the true class of the league.
GAME OF THE MIDWEEK
LSU at South Carolina, Wednesday, 7 pm ET, ESPN2
This is the only matchup of top tier teams, and it's a big one. LSU was able to take over the top spot in the conference race over the weekend, and it would love to hang onto it and put to rest questions about its consistency. A win for the Gamecocks would solidify them in contention for the title of top team, as they just beat A&M on Saturday. That'd put them at 2-0 against other top tier teams with a game against the Wildcats on deck for this coming weekend. This one has "prove it" written all over it for both teams.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Auburn at Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Tennessee is the clear favorite in this one, and the Vols are currently fighting with Alabama to avoid having to play in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. UT needs to win all of its games against the bottom three teams of the league like AU to help out its cause there. Big Orange already lost at Auburn in its conference opener, so it's a real concern.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Hogs would be the clear favorite for this one, and so far they've been good about not picking up bad losses in conference play. MSU, meanwhile, would love to win this one to avenge its 82-68 loss to Arkansas earlier this season.
Georgia at Kentucky, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Which Kentucky is the real one? The one that smoked Florida and pushed Kansas to overtime in Lawrence? Or the one that fell apart against Tennessee and lost to Auburn? The answer is probably just "both" and that it's a structurally inconsistent team. UGA on the other hand is hanging on to an above-.500 SEC record, and it has wins over South Carolina and Arkansas that makes that record not solely a product of scheduling. The Bulldogs could begin to make a move by winning in Lexington, but that's a tall task.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU
The Gators were beginning to get some nice coverage after nice wins over West Virginia and Arkansas, but the poor showing at Rupp a few days ago tempered the team's momentum. It now must pick up the pieces against a dangerous Rebel team, albeit one that has already lost at home back when it had a fully healthy roster to this Florida squad.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10
Texas A&M at Alabama, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Aggies are hitting a patch of adversity after losing consecutive games for the first time this year. They're a much better team than Alabama is, but the Tide does have something real to play for given its standings battle with Tennessee. Playing in Tuscaloosa isn't the best, but it's certainly not the worst way either to test how resilient A&M is.
Missouri at Vanderbilt, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Commodores appeared to be starting a credible late-season push towards the NCAA Tournament, but they set themselves back with a loss in Oxford over the weekend. Dropping this one to Mizzou would be even worse.