SEC Tournament Guide
Published on Wednesday, 3/10/15, at 8:49 a.m. Eastern.
–On Monday, Sportsbook.ag had Kentucky as an enormous -400 favorite. The next-shortest odds belonged to Georgia (8/1), Arkansas (10/1) and LSU (15/1). The field was +350 (risk $100 to win $350). By Tuesday night, however, those odds had been adjusted. UK was -500 ‘chalk,’ followed by the field (5/1), UGA (12/1), Arky (12/1) and LSU (18/1).
–LSU star forward Jordan Mickey, a first-team All-SEC selection, has been upgraded to ‘probable’ for Friday’s SEC Tournament quarterfinals game vs. a to-be-determined opponent (Texas A&M if form holds). Mickey is dealing with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the regular-season finale at Arkansas, a win for the Tigers at Bud Walton Arena on Keith Hornsby’s buzzer-beating trey from the corner. Without Mickey, Jarrell Martin played all 40 minutes against the Razorbacks, scoring 27 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
–Georgia guard Kenny Gaines is ‘doubtful’ for Friday’s SEC Tournament quarterfinals game. He sprained his foot at practice last week and didn’t play in Saturday’s regular-season finale — a win at Auburn. Mark Fox believes Gaines will be ready to return for the NCAA Tournament.
–Texas A&M leading scorer Danuel House (foot) is ‘doubtful’ for the SEC Tournament.
—Here’s your pre-game stuff for Alabama vs. Florida via GatorZone.com. The Gators and Crimson Tide play Thursday’s lid-lifter at 1:00 p.m. Eastern in Music City. As of Wednesday morning, most books had UF favored by 3.5 points. When these teams met at Coleman Coliseum, Billy Donovan’s team bested Anthony Grant’s squad 52-50 thanks to a pair of huge plays from Dorian Finney-Smith at crunch time. First, the junior forward dunked in traffic with 13 seconds remaining to put his team ahead by two. Then on the other end, ‘Doe-Doe’ blocked a ‘Bama shot and the Gators escaped with the victory. Grant is almost certainly facing a pink slip if he can’t lead the Tide to an improbable run through the SEC Tourney. In that event, he could be returning to UF to join Donovan’s staff as an assistant.
–I believe Kentucky, Arkansas and Georgia are undoubtedly ‘in’ the NCAA Tournament. I’m also confident that LSU is ‘in,’ although I guess there are scenarios in which the Tigers could lose their spot. If Auburn or Mississippi St.’s upsets Texas A&M and then beats LSU AND a spot or two gets stolen (like if an NCAA bid gets taken by a school like FSU or Florida winning the ACC or SEC Tourneys), then maybe it could be Heartbreak Hotel in Baton Rouge on Selection Sunday. However, the win at Arkansas has to have LSU fans feeling comfortable. If Ole Miss beats the South Carolina-Missouri winner, it will be in decent shape and will have a good shot at hearing its name called. If the Rebels lose to South Carolina or Mizzou, I think they’ll be ‘out.’ If they win two games this weekend, which would include a win over UGA, they’re ‘in’ for sure. As for Texas A&M, I think it has to get to the SEC Tournament finals to get a bid.
–Looking for a sleeper? That is undoubtedly Vanderbilt, which has won five in a row and eight of its last 10. The Commodores, fresh off a win at Ole Miss as ‘dogs to make them 8-2 ATS in their last 10, have lost by six combined points in those two recent defeats (three-points setbacks vs. Tennessee and at Florida). The ‘Dores face the Vols as 4.5-point favorites Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The winner gets Arkansas.
–In tonight’s openers, Mississippi St. is favored by one with a total of 134.5 vs. Auburn. The Tigers will get Antoine Mason back in the lineup. He has missed the last several games following the tragic passing of his father, former Knicks great Anthony Mason.
–In tonight’s late game, South Carolina is 8.5-point ‘chalk’ vs. Missouri. The total is 119.5.
—Is Frank Martin on thin ice in Columbia? I doubt it. I thought Martin was a grand-slam hire, but this rebuilding project has taken longer than I thought it would. Martin will go into the 2015-2016 campaign needing to get to the postseason.
—We’re also big fans of Hannah Davis here at BE Sports.
—It was 10 years ago today that Brian Nichols began his murder spree at the Fulton Co. Courthouse in Atlanta. My Dad and I were downtown at the SEC Tournament inside the Ga. Dome, completely unaware of the chaos going on within blocks of the arena. When we returned to The Hilton after watching a pair of afternoon games, we saw Nichols’ face all over every television screen. Nichols was on the loose and every person in Atlanta was aware of it. When I woke up the following morning, I immediately put it on CNN. Within minutes, the anchor said, “Ok, we have breaking news, another dead body has been found off of Lenox Road.” Where did I live? You guessed it — 2901 Lenox Way, a condo complex on Lenox Road. The dead body was found about 300 yards from where I lived. Nichols remained on the loose for another 24 hours as an incompetent group of Atlanta politicians faced massive (and justified) criticism from the local and national media. He was finally arrested on Saturday morning, ending one of the scariest 48-hours sagas in the history of the city. It was a weekend that I’ll certainly never forget.