Given how this season has gone, it’s quite surprising that all of the higher seeded teams won on Thursday. The SEC’s middle tier has seemed like a group in which anyone can beat anyone else on a given night, so how weird is it that chalk is holding so far?
That said, chalk holding on Thursday means the Friday games are just that much more interesting. All games will be televised on the SEC Network and available for streaming on WatchESPN.
Today’s action tips off at 1:00 PM ET with the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats facing the 8-seed Georgia Bulldogs. These teams played twice in the regular season, with Kentucky winning in overtime in Lexington and by 5 in Athens, with Georgia star Yante Maten missing all but two minutes of the latter game. Can the Bulldogs finally pull one out today? Georgia is still on the fringes of the bubble due to a lack of quality wins, but their case might be interesting if they can add a win over Kentucky to their resume. Needless to say, this is a big one.
Game 2 tips off 25 minutes after the end of the first game, with the 4-seed South Carolina Gamecocks battling the 5-seed Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama beat South Carolina in quadruple overtime in the teams’ lone meeting this season. This won't mean a lot for the bubble — South Carolina is already in, while Alabama likely needs to win the tournament to make it.
The evening session will tip off at 7 PM ET with the 7-seed Vanderbilt Commodores looking to beat the 2-seed Florida Gators for a third time this season. Vanderbilt might have punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament by beating Texas A&M last night, and beating Florida might make the Commodores feel secure. Florida is playing for seeding; the Gators could get as high as a 2-seed in the tournament if they win in Nashville.
In the final game of the day, the 3-seed Arkansas Razorbacks take on the 6-seed Ole Miss Rebels. Ole Miss, like Georgia, has decent computer numbers (though KenPom likes them a lot less) and a lack of quality wins, but a win over Arkansas could help them. Arkansas should be safely in the field at this point (though Dan Wolken doesn't think so), but an early exit in Nashville could drop them a seed line or two. Arkansas beat Ole Miss 98-80 in Fayetteville on February 18.
Odds and Picks
Georgia (+10) vs. Kentucky: Georgia has played Kentucky within single digits on two occasions this season, and I’m not sure why we would think the third time would be any different.
Alabama (+3.5) vs. South Carolina: You know this is going to be a rock fight.
Vanderbilt (+6) vs. Florida: Vanderbilt has beaten Florida twice this season, including in the Gators’ most recent game, and I see no particular reason to think Florida will win by more than 6.
Ole Miss (+4.5) vs. Arkansas: Yep, I’m picking all underdogs. After yesterday’s chalk-heavy day, I think all these games today will go down to the wire.