Kentucky Team To Watch as Postseason Approaches
Things are about to get interesting for Alabama and star freshman Brandon Miller as the postseason is ready to get started. Although Miller has not been charged in a murder that resulted in teammate Darius Miles no longer being a member of the program, that won’t stop fans deriding Miller with chants as Alabama heads to neutral sites throughout the postseason.
Alabama and Texas A&M have wrapped up the top seeds before their regular-season matchup this weekend but some other spots still need to be finalized before the SEC tournament gets underway.
According to the March Madness predictions, Alabama (+850) is third in the odds to win the national title. Tennessee (+2200) is tied for eighth with Arkansas priced at +5000 in the championship odds.
There are five SEC teams in the top 30 in the NCAA NET rankings so there is still some work yet to be done for some of the squads on the NCAA tournament bubble.
Alabama remains second in both national polls. Tennessee fell to 12th in the Associated Press poll and 14th in the coaches’ poll. Kentucky, which began the season ranked fourth in the national polls, returned to the top 25 at No. 23 in the Associated Press poll.
Here’s a look at the situations of the SEC teams as the regular season wraps up on Saturday.
- Record: 26-4 (16-1 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 2
- Remaining schedule: vs Texas A&M, Saturday
Alabama had to rally from a 17-point deficit to top rival Auburn and clinch the SEC regular-season title.
Comeback Complete 🐘#RollTide | #BlueCollarBasketball pic.twitter.com/iNy15YWldm
— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) March 2, 2023
Jahvon Quinerly had 24 points and Brandon Miller hit two late free throws in overtime in the 90-85 win. Now the Crimson Tide look to wrap up a perfect record at home when second-place Texas A&M comes to town.
It seems likely that regardless of what happens this weekend and in the SEC tournament, the Crimson Tide will be a No. 1 seed and one of the favorites in the March Madness picks when the NCAA tournament field is finalized.
- Record: 22-8 (11-6 ACC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 3
- Remaining schedule: at Auburn, Saturday
Tennessee sitting third in the NCAA NET rankings is proof of the flaws in the formula used to seed the NCAA tournament field.
Tennessee has won two games in a row after some recent struggles. The 40-point win against South Carolina and 18-point victory versus Arkansas allowed Tennessee to finish 14-2 at home this season. The Volunteers had 66 bench points in those two games and when the reserves are contributing like that, watch out for this Tennessee team.
The Volunteers await word on guard Zakai Zeigler, the team leader in assists and No. 3 scorer, as he was injured in the win over Arkansas.
- Record: 19-11 (8-9 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 15
- Remaining schedule: vs Kentucky, Saturday
Arkansas is sitting a game under .500 in the SEC heading into the regular-season finale and is just 2-6 against teams ranked in the top 25 in the Associated Press poll at the time of the matchup so Saturday’s game could be huge on both accounts for the Razorbacks.
Highly touted freshman Nick Smith averaged 25 points and had seven 3-pointers in games against Georgia and Alabama and the Razorbacks will need more games like that moving forward.
- Record: 20-10 (11-6 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 21
- Remaining schedule: at Arkansas, Saturday
Despite losing at home to Vanderbilt on Wednesday, Kentucky seems to have removed itself from being a bubble team. Kentucky has done enough to land a spot in the NCAA tournament. They will be a tough team for those making Las Vegas March Madness odds to figure out.
Not having point guard Sahvir Wheeler has led to some offensive issues late in the season. However, any team with double-double machine Oscar Tshiebwe can’t be taken lightly.
Freshman Cason Wallace has struggled to score consistently in recent action and he will need to avoid the peaks and valleys when postseason play begins.
- Record: 22-8 (14-3 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 26
- Remaining schedule: vs Alabama, Saturday
The showdown with SEC regular-season champion Alabama will allow the Aggies a chance to get the feel of a postseason style of game this weekend.
The Aggies have secured the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament. The game against Alabama could have a role when it comes to the odds to win March Madness.
Leading scorer Wade Taylor has shot 30.3% from the field over the last three games so he will need to find the range sooner rather than later.
The Aggies lead all SEC teams with a 20-10 record against the Las Vegas college basketball odds.
- Record: 19-11 (9-8 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 37
- Remaining schedule: vs Tennessee, Saturday
Auburn is very much on the bubble when it comes to making it into the March Madness bracket and that makes Wednesday’s overtime loss to Alabama when the Tigers squandered a 17-point lead all the most costly.
It doesn’t get much easier with Tennessee coming to town. Auburn is just 1-3 against ranked teams this season so this is another chance to pick up a quality win.
The Tigers got a lift from K.D. Johnson as he scored a season-high 21 points in the loss to Alabama. If he can continue to contribute offensively off the bench, that could be huge for the Tigers.
- Record: 20-10 (8-9 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 43
- Remaining schedule: at Vanderbilt, Saturday
The good news is that the Bulldogs have already secured a 20-win season. The bad news is their body of work does not guarantee them a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Vanderbilt has posted some big wins this season and will be a tough opponent for the Bulldogs in the regular-season finale as Mississippi State looks to end the regular season with four wins in the last six games.
- Record: 22-8 (10-7 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 49
- Remaining schedule: vs Ole Miss, Saturday
Many years ago, an SEC team with 22 wins and 10 conference victories could start planning for the NCAA tournament. That is certainly not the case with Missouri as not even five wins against ranked opponents will guarantee the Tigers a spot in the tournament.
A win against 12th-place Ole Miss would help with the seed in the SEC tournament and that could be huge as the postseason is right around the corner.
- Record: 15-15 (8-9 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 60
- Remaining schedule: vs Louisiana State, Saturday
Florida snapped a three-game losing streak with a 10-point win at Georgia. A win over LSU won’t really help with the Gators’ NET ranking.
It seems pretty clear that the only way Florida will get into the NCAA tournament is by winning the SEC title and without leading scorer and rebounder Coolin Castleton, that is a tall task.
- Record: 17-13 (10-7 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 84
- Remaining schedule: vs Mississippi State, Saturday
Vanderbilt is coming off an upset of Kentucky with the Commodores listed by the sportsbook as a 10½-point underdog. A win on Saturday would allow them to finish four games over .500 in the SEC regular-season standings and that would be quite the accomplishment.
The win came even though leading scorer Liam Robbins was limited to just four minutes. If Robbins is sidelined, that could make for a short stay in the postseason for a Vanderbiilt team that has posted some strong results this season.
11. Ole Miss
- Record: 11-19 (3-14 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 132
- Remaining schedule: at Missouri, Saturday
It is pretty simple, Ole Miss will need to win the SEC tournament to play in the postseason.
The Rebels are 1-5 over the last six games and an issue is a lack of offensive support for leading scorer Matt Murrell. Murrell has scored in double figures in each of the last five games with a pair of 20-point efforts mixed in. He can’t do it by himself.
- Record: 16-14 (6-11 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 149
- Remaining schedule: at South Carolina, Saturday
Talk about consistency, after going 7-11 in SEC play last season, the Bulldogs can finish with the same conference record with a win on Saturday.
Leading scorer Terry Roberts has a total of 18 points over his last three games so more will be expected from him this weekend and in the conference tournament.
13. Louisiana State
- Record: 13-17 (2-15 SEC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 155
- Remaining schedule: at Florida, Saturday
LSU has one last chance to avoid going winless on the road when the Tigers travel to meet Florida this weekend.
LSU ended 2022 with an upset over nationally ranked Arkansas to improve to 12-1 and the Tigers have gone 1-16 since.
14. South Carolina
- Record: 10-20 (3-14 ACC)
- NCAA NET Ranking: 233
- Remaining schedule: vs Georgia, Saturday
South Carolina has a chance to end the regular season by picking up its seventh home win of the season and avoid potentially finishing tied for last in the SEC standings.
Plenty of eyes will be on freshman Gregory Jackson as the hometown product has two 20-point efforts in his last four games.