Edwards: SEC Basketball Notebook

Edwards: SEC Basketball Notebook

As of Friday afternoon (2/9/24), FanDuel had Auburn (19-4 straight up, 15-6-2 against the spread) installed as the +130 ‘chalk’ to win the SEC’s regular-season title. The next-shortest odds belong to Tennessee (+165), Alabama (+340), South Carolina (+950), Kentucky (+9500 or 95/1), Texas A&M (130/1), Florida (130/1), LSU (250/1) and Ole Miss (250/1).

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi released his latest edition of ‘Bracketology’ this morning. The SEC currently has nine teams in his NCAA Tournament field, but there are three schools that are just inside the cut line.

Mississippi St. is in Lunardi’s ‘Last Four In,’ while Florida and Ole Miss are a part of his ‘Last Four Byes.’ The Bulldogs would be facing Cincinnati in a First Four game in Dayton, with the winner advancing as a #10 seed.

Ole Miss, a #11 seed, would take on sixth-seeded BYU in Omaha in the West Region. Florida, a #10 seed in the Midwest Region, would face Clemson in Omaha.

Tennessee (17-5 SU, 10-11-1 ATS) is a #2 seed that would face Troy in the West Region. Lunardi has Auburn (19-4 SU, 15-6-2 ATS) as a #3 seed in the Midwest Region that would face UNC-Wilmington, which went into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky outright earlier this year.

Alabama (16-7 SU, 13-9-1 ATS) is a #3 seed in the South Region that would take on Morehead St. South Carolina (20-3 SU, 17-6 ATS) is a #5 seed in the East Region, and Texas A&M is a #10 seed that would face Texas.

Kentucky (16-6 SU, 13-9 ATS) is a #6 seed that would face Indiana St. in an East Region showdown. The Wildcats have seen the ‘over’ cash at a lucrative 17-3 clip in their last 20 outings.

John Calipari’s team avoided a three-game losing streak by blasting Vanderbilt 109-77 as a nine-point road favorite Tuesday night in Nashville. Kentucky will host Gonzaga on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. The Wildcats have four remaining road games at Auburn, at LSU, at Mississippi St. and at Tennessee.

Most books had UK listed as a 3.5 or four-point home favorite vs. Gonzaga. The total was 167.5 points. The Wildcats are 11-3 SU and 7-7 ATS in 14 home games, while the Bulldogs are 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS in five true road assignments.

UK’s Tre Mitchell and D.J. Wagner are both listed as ‘questionable.’ Mitchell, who has missed two of the past three games, is averaging 12.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 blocked shots per game. Wagner (12.0 PPG, 3.7 APG & 1.1 SPG), the grandson of ex-Louisville star Milt Wagner, who was a key player on Louisville’s team that beat Duke in the finals of the 1986 NCAA Tournament, has missed three games in a row with an ankle injury.

Saturday’s SEC slate starts at noon Eastern in Baton Rouge, where LSU (12-10 SU, 8-13 ATS) will host Alabama as a 6.5-point home underdog. As of early Friday evening, the total was 166.5 points and the Tigers were +198 on the money line.

Nate Oats’s squad is in bounce-back mode after getting thumped 99-81 Wednesday at Auburn. Nevertheless, Alabama is still 10-2 SU and 8-3-1 ATS in its last 12 games, with the only other defeat coming at Tennessee.

LSU is 9-3 SU and 5-7 ATS in 12 home games, while Alabama is 3-3 both SU and ATS in six road contests.

The ‘over’ has cashed at a 6-2 clip for the Crimson Tide in its last eight games to improve to 16-7 overall. The ‘over’ is also on a 6-2 run for the Tigers in its last eight games to improve to 11-10 overall.

LSU’s leading scorer Jalen Cook, who averages 15.5 PPG, missed Wednesday’s 88-68 loss at Tennessee due to a hamstring issue. Cook is ‘questionable’ vs. Alabama.

South Carolina (20-3 SU, 17-6 ATS) will host Vanderbilt at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. The Gamecocks were listed as 12.5-point home favorites Friday night, with a total of 129.5 or 130. The Commodores were +640 on the money line.

Lamont Paris’s team is 12-1 SU and 8-5 ATS at home, while Vandy (6-16 SU, 9-12-1 ATS) is 0-5 SU and 2-2-1 ATS in five road outings.

The ‘under’ is on a 13-3 run for Vandy in its last 16 games. The ‘under’ has appeared in three consecutive contests for the Gamecocks to improve to 13-10 overall.

Auburn falls into a bit of a flat spot Saturday at Florida. Bruce Pearl’s bunch is coming off a blowout win in a rivalry game that ended Alabama’s three-game winning streak over Auburn.

On the flip side, Todd Golden’s team has had a week to prepare since seeing its four-game winning streak snapped in last Saturday’s 67-66 loss at Texas A&M.

Most betting shops have Florida (15-7 SU, 10-11-1 ATS) installed as a 1.5-point home underdog with a total of 159.5. The Gators are 9-1 SU and 5-5 ATS in 10 home games, while the Tigers are 3-3 SU and 3-2-1 ATS.

Auburn hasn’t won in Gainesville since 1996, which was Lon Kruger’s last season as UF’s head coach before he left to take the Illinois job.

Texas A&M (14-8 SU, 10-12 ATS) will host Tennessee as a 3.5-point home underdog at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. The total is 140.5 points and the Aggies are +132 on the money line.

Tennessee is 4-2 SU and 2-4 ATS in six road games, while Texas A&M is 8-3 SU and 3-8 ATS in 11 home outings. In last year’s lone head-to-head meeting, the Aggies won a 68-63 decision over the Volunteers as two-point home ‘chalk.’

Arkansas (11-11 SU, 6-16 ATS) is a 1.5-point home favorite for Saturday’s home game vs. Georgia at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. The total is 150.5 points.

The Razorbacks are probably the nation’s biggest disappointment. They’re 8-4 SU and 5-7 ATS in 12 home games, while Georgia (14-9 SU, 10-12-1 ATS) is 3-3 SU and 5-1 ATS in six road assignments.

Since winning 10 games in a row from late November to mid-January, UGA has lost six of its last eight games, including four in a row. The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight games for the Bulldogs and four of their last five.

When these teams met in Athens on Jan. 10, Mike White’s team won a 76-66 decision as a two-point home favorite. The 142 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 142.5-point total.

Arkansas center Trevon Brazile is expected to miss his fourth straight game due to a knee injury. Brazile is averaging 8.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game.

On the bright side for the Hogs, they’re getting Davonte Davis back in uniform. Davis has missed the last three games while dealing with personal issues, but he’s been back with the team all week. The senior guard has had a disappointing campaign, averaging 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

The final game in SEC play on Saturday will go down in Columbia, where Missouri (8-15 SU, 5-18 ATS) will be gunning for its first conference win vs. Mississippi St. The Bulldogs are looking for their first road victory after going 0-6 both SU and ATS so far this year.

Since Dec. 3, Missouri has won only one game (vs. Central Arkansas). The Tigers are mired in an abysmal 2-11 ATS slump in their last 13 contests.

Missouri’s leading scorer Sean East (15.6 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.5 RPG & 1.2 SPG) is listed as ‘questionable’ with a knee injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s loss in College Station.

For more analysis of Saturday’s SEC games, check out my podcast – Bets & Ballgames with Edwards and Greeson – for Southeastern 14 with Jay Greeson, who is a long-time columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.