|6:00 PM||Texas A&M vs. West Virginia||ESPN/WatchESPN|
|6:30 PM||Alabama State at Mississippi State||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|6:30 PM||Memphis vs. Alabama||CBS Sports Network/CBSSports.com|
|7:00 PM||Presbyterian at Tennessee||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|7:00 PM||South Carolina at Wofford||ESPN3/WatchESPN|
|7:00 PM||Utah Valley at Kentucky||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
|7:00 PM||Bryant at Georgia||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|8:00 PM||UL Lafayette at Ole Miss||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|8:00 PM||Alcorn State at LSU||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|8:00 PM||Samford at Arkansas||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|8:00 PM||Norfolk State at Auburn||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|9:00 PM||Iowa State at Missouri||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
|9:30 PM||Austin Peay at Vanderbilt||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
Basketball is back.
Opening night is here, and 13 of the 14 SEC teams (what are you doing, Florida, opening your season on Monday night) are in action tonight. The marquee game, to the extent that there is one, is a matchup of Top 25 teams as Texas A&M travels to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany for a 6 PM (Eastern time) tip against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The bad news is that the Aggies are shorthanded with Robert Williams III, D.J. Hogg, and J.J. Caldwell all serving suspensions.
Speaking of suspensions, Alabama will be without star freshman Collin Sexton as they head to Annapolis for a neutral-court matchup with the Memphis Tigers; Alabama is also missing Braxton Key and Riley Norris, who are injured.
Later on, at 9:00 PM ET, Missouri kicks off the Cuonzo Martin era by hosting Iowa State, a program that’s made six straight NCAA Tournaments but is retooling after losing a great senior class. This should still be a good early test for Michael Porter Jr. and company.
Most of the rest of the slate is typical opening-night fare; six teams are facing teams rated 300th or worse in KenPom, and Kentucky is a heavy favorite over Utah Valley (though obviously that’s much more a reflection on Kentucky than anything else.) The exceptions are Arkansas hosting Samford, a team that only lost one senior off a 20-16 team from a year ago, and Ole Miss hosting Louisiana Lafayette, which likewise lost one senior off a team that went 21-12 last year. Both of those are on at least mild upset watch.
Oh, and South Carolina, which is traveling up to Spartanburg to help Wofford open the brand-new Richardson Indoor Stadium. What are you doing, South Carolina?!
Bad Gambling Advice
Season: 0-0 ATS
My record became a running joke last year, so you might be wise to pick the opposite.
(No line on Norfolk State at Auburn, Bryant at Georgia, Alcorn State at LSU, Alabama State at Mississippi State, and Presbyterian at Tennessee.)
- Alabama (-4) vs. Memphis: Yes, Alabama is shorthanded, with Collin Sexton serving a one-game suspension and Braxton Key, Riley Norris, and Ar’Mond Davis all injured. However, Memphis lost a ton of players to transfer (including probably their three best players) and may be wretched this year, so I like even a shorthanded Alabama to win and cover.
- Samford (+10.5) at Arkansas: This is a sneaky tough matchup for the Razorbacks, who are having to replace Moses Kingsley and Dusty Hannahs and open the year facing an experienced Samford team. Samford brings back most of their roster from a 20-win team and also has Alabama transfer Justin Coleman eligible this year. I don’t think Samford comes out of Fayetteville with a win, but this should be within single digits.
- Utah Valley (+20) at Kentucky: Kentucky is obviously extremely talented; they’re also extremely young and will need some time to work the kinks out. They’re also not particularly deep. I’m calling a backdoor cover by Utah Valley, with Kentucky getting a win by 18 or 19.
- Iowa State at Missouri (-5.5): This is probably as good a time as any to catch Iowa State, who’s retooling after losing a ton of production off last year’s team. Also, the best player on the floor will be playing for Missouri, something that could have been said at no point in the last three years. This one will be back and forth for a while but I like Missouri to pull away late and begin the Cuonzo Martin era with a win.
- UL Lafayette at Ole Miss (-8): Like Samford, UL Lafayette has a good squad with most of their team back from last year and some talented transfers joining the fray (notably former Mizzou player Jakeenan Gant and former South Carolina guard Marcus Stroman.) But I also think a lot of Ole Miss, and I think they’ll pull away late in a high-scoring game.
- South Carolina at Wofford (+5.5): Wofford’s not that great, but they somehow got a home game against South Carolina to open their new arena. South Carolina lost a lot from last year’s team, and while I like them to win narrowly (thanks mostly to Chris Silva), I don’t like them to cover here.
- Texas A&M vs. West Virginia (-6.5): Going to face Press Virginia without your starting point guard (along with Robert Williams and DJ Hogg?) Yeah, I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all.
- Austin Peay at Vanderbilt (-25.5): Austin Peay just turned over the entire roster with a new coach after an 11-19 season. I swear I’m not being a homer by picking the Commodores to cover.