- (8) Texas A&M Aggies vs. (9) Alabama Crimson Tide (1 p.m. ET, SEC Network): It’s been a weird year for these two teams. Initially projected to be near the top of the SEC, Texas A&M finds themselves as the 8-seed in this SEC Tournament and looking like a 6 or 7 in the NCAA Tournament. That’s not bad by any stretch, but for a team that was ranked in the top 15 of the AP Poll heading into the year, they have to be a bit miffed at how things went down.
Despite all of that, the Aggies have a 20-11 record and the two best rebounders in the SEC in Robert Williams (9.0 RPG) and Tyler Davis (8.7 RPG). Davis also led Texas A&M in scoring at 14.7 points per game, landing him on the All-SEC First Team. Williams, the defensive force, nabbed co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. TJ Starks found himself on the SEC All-Freshman Team, as well. Starks finished the year with 9.1 points per game.
It’s clear A&M has talent. Had they not had a five-game skid at the worst possible time (their first five SEC games), they likely wouldn’t be playing until Friday’s quarterfinals.
If you know anything about Alabama Basketball, you know Collin Sexton. The dynamic scorer shared SEC Freshman of the Year honors with Kentucky’s Kevin Knox and it’s easy to see why. Sexton was second in the SEC in scoring at 18.3 points per game. Aside from Sexton, though, the Tide don’t seem to have a go-to second scoring option. Donta Hall and John Petty both clock in right around 10 points per game, but Hall is mostly a defensive presence (as shown by his All-SEC Defensive Team nod) and Petty is a streaky shooter.
Alabama may have actually found a worse time to have a five-game losing streak than A&M, as Bama lost their last five SEC games to go from 17-9 to 17-14.
The teams split their season series, with the home team winning each time.
- (5) Missouri Tigers vs. (12) Georgia Bulldogs (Approx. 3 p.m. ET, SEC Network): MICHAEL PORTER JR. IS PLAYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Really, that should be the only preview point needed for this game, but in the interest of fairness, I’ll go more in-depth. While MPJ playing is obviously the huge story, how about Cuonzo Martin taking a program that won less than 30 games in three seasons and getting to 20 wins in his first season? How about Kassius Robertson making First Team All-SEC? How about Jontay Porter being Co-Sixth Man of the Year?
With MPJ back, it’s probably not fair to call Mizzou a “dark horse” to win the SEC Tournament anymore, but they’re definitely one of the teams that don’t have the double-bye that could certainly make it deep into the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have the SEC’s leading scorer in Yante Maten, who is an absolute animal and has been for his entire time in college. He also finished third in the conference in rebounding. The Bulldogs don’t have much else to speak of, but Mizzou will have to contain Maten, which they did fairly well in their other meeting of the year, holding Maten to nine points and two rebounds in a 68-56 victory.
- (7) Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. (10) LSU Tigers (7 p.m. ET, SEC Network): The nighttime portion of games starts with Mississippi State tackling LSU. Tremont Waters and the Tigers will have a chance to create some havoc and get an upset bid into the quarterfinals, where they would meet the 2-seeded Tennessee Volunteers, should they win. But, Quinndary Weatherspoon and the Bulldogs are looking prevent such an event from happening.
Neither team is playing for particularly much here as far as Tourney stakes. Although, at 21-10 and 9-9 in conference, maaaaaaybe Mississippi State can make a run and plant themselves on the bubble. LSU, at 17-13, is basically auto-bid or bust for the NCAA Tournament.
- (6) Arkansas Razorbacks vs. (11) South Carolina Gamecocks (9 p.m. ET, SEC Network): The final game of the night will pit the Arkansas Razorbacks against the South Carolina Gamecocks. We went chalk on Wednesday night, as South Carolina defeated the Ole Miss Rebels, while Georgia took down the Vanderbilt Commodores. So, the 11 seed will face the six seed here.
Arkansas is led of course by Jaylen Barford, Daryl Macon and Daniel Gafford. Neither of the three figure to be around next year — Barford and Macon graduating, Gafford being a potential 1st rounder — so this will be a fascinating run through March for the Hogs. The Gamecocks, of course, went through a lot of turnover after their magical Final Four run last year. Chris Silva is a defensive wizard, and we’ll see what kind of impact he can make tonight.
The Razorbacks are pretty safe as far as their NCAA Tournament chances go. They’re not on the bubble and a loss wouldn’t stifle their shot. South Carolina, meanwhile, just has to keep on winning.
Texas A&M is up to a 3/3.5-point favorite over Alabama.
Missouri is a 4-point favorite over Georgia.
Mississippi State is up to a 2.5-point favorite over LSU.
Arkansas is up to a 5-point favorite over South Carolina.
- Alabama +3.5 (Win Outright)
- Mizzou -4
- Mississippi State -2.5
- South Carolina +5 (Arkansas to win, but NOT cover)