Predicting every game in the 2021 SEC Tournament
The SEC Tournament is finally here! The men’s basketball action tips off Wednesday night in Nashville with a game between Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
The 12 games over 5 days will be aired on the SEC Network and ESPN. So, who will cut down the nets and win it all?
Here are my predictions for each of the games in this year’s tournament:
Game 1: No. 13 Texas A&M over No. 12 Vanderbilt
Info: Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network
I think the absence of Dylan Disu, who is out after having knee surgery, will doom the Commodores. The Aggies have been playing well since coming back from a month-long COVID pause, giving Mississippi State and Arkansas all they could handle. They’ll get over the hump and win this first-round matchup on Wednesday.
Game 2: No. 8 Kentucky over No. 9 Mississippi State
Info: Thursday at noon ET on SEC Network
This has the potential to be a really ugly defensive battle. At the end of the day, BJ Boston, Isaiah Jackson and Davion Mintz have been playing much better lately. They’ll squeeze out a win over the Bulldogs.
Game 3: No. 5 Florida over No. 13 Texas A&M
Info: Thursday afternoon, 25 minutes after Game 2 on SEC Network
The Aggies won’t have the stamina to come back less than 24 hours after the Vanderbilt game and be competitive. Florida wins in blowout fashion.
Game 4: No. 7 Mizzou over No. 10 Georgia
Info: Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network
I’m really hesitant to pick the Tigers, especially considering their second-half collapse at Georgia last month. But I think Mizzou needs a big win to build momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament. Cuonzo Martin better have his guys ready to play, though, because the Bulldogs won’t be an easy out.
Game 5: No. 6 Ole Miss over No. 11 South Carolina
Info: Thursday night, 25 minutes after Game 4 on SEC Network
Ole Miss’ defense has been elite this season. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks, aside from occasional flashes of brilliance, have been one of the most disappointing teams in the conference. Ole Miss gets the job done here.
Game 6: No. 1 Alabama over No. 8 Kentucky
Info: Friday at noon ET on ESPN
This game will be much tighter than many expect, as the Wildcats will be hungry to make a Cinderella-type run to win the tournament and steal a March Madness slot. Also, Alabama hasn’t always come out strong in early games this year. But after a sluggish first half, the Tide will turn things around and win by less than 10 points.
Game 7: No. 5 Florida over No. 4 Tennessee
Info: Friday afternoon, 25 minutes after Game 6 on ESPN
Yes, Tennessee got the win in this matchup as recently as Sunday, but this time, I think the Gators get some revenge. The Gators have been up and down all year. To start the SEC Tournament, I think they’ll come out hot and make sure John Fulkerson doesn’t beat them.
Game 8: No. 2 Arkansas over No. 7 Mizzou
Info: Friday at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network
Mizzou beat Arkansas when Justin Smith was out. Arkansas beat Mizzou when Jeremiah Tilmon was out. Both big men should be healthy for this matchup. So, what gives Arkansas the edge? Only the small fact that the Razorbacks are the hottest team in the SEC right now. Expect Mizzou to give them a run for their money, though, before ultimately coming up short.
Game 9: No. 3 LSU over No. 6 Ole Miss
Info: Friday night, 25 minutes after Game 8 on SEC Network
This is a battle of 2 teams that are about as different stylistically as you can get. Per KenPom.com, LSU is the No. 5 team in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 127 in adjusted defensive efficiency. On the other hand, Ole Miss is No. 114 offensively and No. 20 defensively by KenPom’s metrics. I think the Rebels will hold the Tigers’ offense in check for most of the game, but freshman Cam Thomas will make a big play down the stretch to give LSU the win.
Game 10: No. 1 Alabama over No. 5 Florida
Info: Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
After looking great against Texas A&M and getting revenge against Tennessee, the Gators will do what they’ve done all year and shoot themselves in the foot right as their momentum is trending up. The Tide will hit a few early 3s and never look back as Florida fans wonder if their team will ever be able to handle success under coach Mike White.
Game 11: No. 2 Arkansas over No. 3 LSU
Info: Saturday afternoon, 25 minutes after Game 10 on ESPN
I think this will be the best game of the tournament. I could see these 2 offensive powerhouses heading into overtime and the final score featuring both teams in triple-digits. But Arkansas will get 1 big defensive stop in overtime to seal a victory after LSU’s defense fails to do the same.
Game 12: No. 1 Alabama over No. 2 Arkansas
Info: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
This prediction relies on my previous predictions being right. If the Razorbacks have to play a Mizzou team that always gives them a fight and then follows it up with a shootout against LSU, that’s a really tough road to the final. Meanwhile, Alabama won’t have quite the same gauntlet to get to Sunday’s title game. That will be the difference, as the Tide will win the third matchup of the SEC’s 2 best teams and cut down the nets in Nashville. Then, we’ll wait to see if it’s enough to get Alabama a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.