|1:00 PM||Stephen F. Austin at LSU||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
|2:00 PM||Virginia Tech at Kentucky||ESPN2/WatchESPN|
|3:00 PM||Georgia at UMass||NBC Sports Network/nbcsports.com|
|3:30 PM||Illinois State at Ole Miss||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
|4:30 PM||Florida vs. Clemson||FS2/Fox Sports Go|
|6:00 PM||Middle Tennessee vs. Auburn||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
|8:00 PM||UT-Martin at Mississippi State||SEC Network+/WatchESPN|
|8:00 PM||Troy vs. Arkansas||None|
|8:30 PM||North Florida at Missouri||SEC Network/WatchESPN|
Most SEC teams have been taking finals for the last week or two, so the basketball schedule’s been understandably light. But with finals now over, nine SEC teams are in action today, with two more playing on Sunday. And we’ll get back to something resembling a normal schedule over the next week (before everybody takes a few days off again for Christmas.)
The highlight of today’s schedule: the Kentucky Wildcats host the 9-1 Virginia Tech Hokies, who beat Ole Miss in Oxford a couple of weeks ago and are ranked #29 in KenPom. Kentucky is 8-1 on the season but hasn’t beaten a team better than #70 Vermont, so this is the first of three opportunities to pick up a quality win before SEC play starts.
The SEC Network will be showing basketball pretty much all day, starting at 1:00 ET. The LSU Tigers host the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, who are 9-1 on the season and ranked #146 in KenPom, though they lost their only game against a top 100 team (Mississippi State.) At 3:30, the Ole Miss Rebels host the Illinois State Redbirds in a game that was scheduled via Twitter. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Illinois State went 28-7 last season but is out to a 4-6 start this year and has lost four of its last five.
At 6:00, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders look to make it three in a row against the SEC as they play the Auburn Tigers in a “neutral site” game at Legacy Arena in Birmingham. Auburn has won six in a row since their only loss of the year to Temple on November 17. In the final game of the SEC Network’s day, the Missouri Tigers host the North Florida Osprey, who are 5-7 and ranked #270 in KenPom. I won’t blame you if you’d rather head out for the evening than watch that one.
There are a couple of other potentially interesting mid-afternoon games. At 3:00, the Georgia Bulldogs travel to take on the UMass Minutemen, who are 5-5 on the season but haven’t lost at home. Georgia already has two road wins on the season. The Florida Gators play the Clemson Tigers at 4:30 in Sunrise, Florida, which I had to Google to find out is a suburb of Miami. Clemson is 8-1 but has yet to play a Top 25 team.
Two other games are at 8:00. The Mississippi State Bulldogs host the 3-7 UT-Martin Skyhawks in a game that’s only available to stream. That’s more than can be said for the Arkansas Razorbacks’ tilt against the 5-5 Troy Trojans, which won’t be televised and isn’t available to stream as far as I know. This game will be played in North Little Rock.
Bad Gambling Advice
Season to Date: 34-32 ATS
Stephen F. Austin (+9) at LSU: Did LSU miss the memo about the Lumberjacks? They’re good, and they’re #1 in the country at forcing turnovers, which will test LSU’s young backcourt. I’m not convinced they will win outright, but they should cover.
Virginia Tech (+6) at Kentucky: This is the first real test that Kentucky has faced since the Kansas game, and while they’re 6-0 since then, they’re 2-4 ATS. That’s not a pick I like to make.
Georgia (-2.5) at UMass: This isn’t the kind of game you want to play after an 11-day layoff. UMass isn’t great, so with a 2.5-point line I like the Bulldogs here.
Illinois State at Ole Miss (-9.5): I normally don’t like picking a team that’s lost its last seven ATS, but Illinois State has been thoroughly unimpressive over its last few games. I think Ole Miss wins this by double digits.
Clemson (+6) vs. Florida: Florida got over their three-game skid with a win over Cincinnati, but I expect this one to be close against a pretty good Clemson team. I think the Gators will win but not cover.
Middle Tennessee vs. Auburn (-3): I’m getting to where I can trust Auburn, who’s looked like a better team than Middle Tennessee’s two SEC victims (Vandy and Ole Miss.) I think Auburn wins this one.
Troy vs. Arkansas (-18.5): It’s technically a “neutral site,” but Little Rock might as well be a home tilt for the Razorbacks, who have shown the ability to dispatch mediocre competition by big margins.
UT-Martin at Mississippi State (-16.5): This is a bounce-back game for the Bulldogs after taking their first loss of the season, so I think they’ll be motivated to crush a bad UT-Martin team.
North Florida (+23) at Missouri: This line feels a little too high against a North Florida team that’s not terrible. I think the Osprey will get a backdoor cover here.