2019 SEC Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Top Half of Bracket Provides Opportunity

2019 SEC Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Top Half of Bracket Provides Opportunity article feature image

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Auburn guards Bryce Brown (2) and J’Von McCormick celebrate win over Tennessee

  • The SEC tournament will get underway on Wednesday, March 13 in Nashville, Tenn., with two first round matchups between the four lowest seeds.
  • Despite being the third-lowest seed in the top half of the bracket, Auburn is the favorite to make it through to the conference final.
  • Kentucky (+155) enters as a slight tournament favorite over Tennessee (+160), as the Wildcats seek their fifth consecutive SEC championship.

The SEC tournament futures odds look extremely strange on the surface. The No. 4 seed South Carolina Gamecocks are one of four teams with a double bye into the quarterfinals, yet they are priced at 95-1 to cut down the nets.

Meanwhile, No. 5 seed Auburn is priced at 4-1 — despite the fact that it would need to win a game just to get to South Carolina. And I didn't even mention the fact that the No. 1 seed LSU has odds north of 8-1.

On the other hand, the bottom half of the bracket has the two best teams in the SEC in Kentucky and Tennessee that could meet in a mouth-watering semifinal. Two schools from Mississippi might have something to say about that first, however.

Let's dive into the bracket and look for some value in the futures market.

2019 SEC Tournament Odds, Format

  • Who: All 14 SEC teams
  • Format: Top 10 seeds receive a bye; top 4 a double-bye
  • When: March 13-17
  • Where: Nashville, TN
  • How to Watch: SECN, ESPN
  • Defending Champion: Kentucky

First Round Thoughts

The bottom of the SEC standings has teams that are either still grinding or already tapped out.

Vanderbilt, which went winless during conference play, and Georgia fall into the latter. The Bulldogs went 1-11 over their past 12 games — and scored 46 and 39 points in their final two games of the season.

Missouri and Texas A&M appear to at least still have some fight left and should advance to Thursday’s action. I don't see either making it past the quarterfinals, but I will be targeting both on Wednesday.

Pick to Win

Kentucky +155

The defending champion Wildcats are the most likely champion. They are the favorite (although not by much) and you could make a solid case for Tennessee (+160) — but until someone takes out the 'Cats in this event, it's their tourney to lose. Kentucky will be going for its fifth consecutive SEC tourney title.

The likely return of Reid Travis makes all the difference on the defensive end against Tennessee (UK's potential semifinal opponent) as we saw in the first matchup in Lexington.

I don't see any value in Kentucky or Tennessee at their respective futures prices, especially considering a potential semifinal would be lined around a PK. If you have access to a running moneyline parlay card, that should provide better value than either future. Or you can just manually roll over UK moneyline throughout the tourney.

Futures Value

Auburn +450

The top half of the bracket should belong to Auburn. The Tigers really started to come along toward the end of the year, capped off by a win over Tennessee in their regular-season finale.

Missouri/Georgia should provide any real threat to the Tigers on Thursday. I would then expect Auburn to exact revenge over South Carolina in the quarterfinals. Expect them to shoot much better than the 41% clip we saw in that loss in Columbia.

That would set up a potential meeting with either LSU, Florida or Arkansas. LSU has plenty of distractions right now, and it could easily get tripped up by either Florida or Arkansas. Even if the Tigers do advance, I like Auburn to still get it done.

Many look at the bracket and assume that LSU got the biggest break by avoiding both Tennessee and Kentucky in its half of the bracket (along with South Carolina as the No. 4 seed). While true, I think Auburn has the best opportunity to make a run to the SEC final.

Bruce Pearl had a roster that was constantly in flux throughout the season, driven by injuries and suspensions. However, that is now all in the rearview mirror. They are now gelling at the right time and this is the Auburn team many were expecting to see all season.

Lottery Ticket

Arkansas 125-1

One of the more intriguing games on Thursday will involve Florida and Arkansas, which have 15-1 and 125-1 SEC tournament odds, respectively.

The winner gets an LSU team that will be without its head coach and possibly without Javonte Smart after an FBI wiretap became public knowledge.

Naz Reid has been cleared to return for the Tigers, but you could see a flat effort from a young, distracted team that has letdown potential after a surprise outright SEC regular season title. LSU is simply an extremely vulnerable No. 1 seed.

Missed free throws cost the Razorbacks in their 57-51 loss earlier in the season to Florida. The box score was identical, and if the Hogs shoot a little better from the charity stripe, there's no reason why they can't beat the Gators.

Florida and LSU went to overtime in both regular season matchups that really could have gone either way. Regardless of who wins that Arkansas-Florida matchup, LSU will be in for a fight.

I'd just rather side with the much more generous price of 125-1 on the Hogs in a potentially chaotic top half of the bracket.

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