SEC Odds, Betting Report: Where Do Tennessee, Texas A&M & Others Stand Heading Into Final Stretch?

SEC Odds, Betting Report: Where Do Tennessee, Texas A&M & Others Stand Heading Into Final Stretch? article feature image

Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht.

The college basketball season is quickly coming to an end, but the SEC remains as competitive as ever. There’s a four-way race to win the regular-season crown and a couple of bubble teams that are entering win-out territory.

Here are three storylines in the SEC, starting with the race for the No. 1 seed come conference tournament time.

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Battle for the SEC

Four teams remain within striking distance of the SEC regular-season championship, and the victor will likely be crowned on the final day before conference tournaments start.

Tennessee is the current favorite (+105) right now but has the hardest test ahead this week.

The Vols host Auburn on Wednesday night before packing up and heading to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama. If Tennessee defends its home floor against Auburn, a win over the Tide would give Rick Barnes’ squad sole possession of first place.

As is tradition, the Vols are one of the nation’s elite defenses. Tennessee ranks second in adjusted efficiency and sits fourth in 2-point defense.

Jonas Aidoo has provided elite rim protection all while taking a significant junior-year leap. He's second in the team in points (12.0 PPG) and leads the team in both rebounds (7.6) and blocks (1.9).

Of course, none of this success would be possible without Dalton Knecht.

The Northern Colorado transfer has hushed any doubts that he could thrive in a much more physical conference, leading the team in scoring (20.1 PPG) and taking nearly 35% of all shots on the floor in SEC play. He draws fouls at an elite rate, and despite all the added attention, is connecting on over 40% of 3s.

Without Knecht’s guiding hand, this team may be a middle-of-the-pack squad due to its lack of offensive firepower. But he and this veteran-led squad have once again found themselves within striking distance of the crown.

That crown is currently being defended by Alabama (+130), which also has a semi-difficult path. However, a win over Tennessee on Saturday at home will likely all but secure a share of the title.

Nate Oats is back to his old ways of forming an elite offense through mid-major transfers. This is the nation's No. 1 offense in terms of adjusted efficiency, ranking inside the top 15 in both 2-point and 3-point shooting.

Mark Sears has taken a significant leap in Year 2 at Alabama, averaging 20.4 points per game. He's shooting nearly 45% from deep and sits inside the top five in fouls drawn per 40 minutes.

mississippi state bulldogs vs alabama crimson tide-odds-pick-prediction-ncaab-betting-february 3
Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Alabama's Mark Sears.

Hofstra transfer Aaron Estrada provides a perfect backcourt complement, while former North Dakota State forward Grant Nelson ranks No. 1 in SEC play in 2-point percentage.

Few teams are as well-balanced as Alabama.

The Tide have four players averaging 11-plus points per game, boasting an elite combination of shooting and size. This team also ranks inside the top 20 in offensive rebounding, as if more couldn’t be going its way on offense. Alabama has scored 95-plus points in each of its last four games.

Defensively is where the Tide lack most. Alabama ranks outside the top 245 in turnover rate, defensive rebounding and FTA/FGA. Despite having size, it's weak around the rim.

While I think South Carolina is a tad overrated (+4000) and its price reflects that, Lamont Paris deserves all the credit for turning this team around. In one year, the Gamecocks nearly have as many SEC wins (10) as they did regular-season wins in 2023 (11).

But don’t sleep on Auburn (+430). If the Tigers can upset Tennessee on the road, they have the easiest schedule of the three teams remaining.

A win would put themselves a half-game back of Alabama — which has games at Ole Miss, vs. Tennessee and at Florida remaining — while Auburn’s only road trip would be at lowly Missouri.

Personally, I think Auburn is the most well-rounded team in this conference and stands the best chance at going far in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, Bruce Pearl’s squad is one of two teams with both a top-15 offense and defense, per KenPom. For reference, Houston is just outside the parameters, ranking 16th offensively.

Hopefully all the chaos ensues — an Auburn win at Tennessee followed by a Vols win at Alabama.

We would then have a three-way tie for the SEC crown with two games left — and a potential last-day decision toward which team can secure the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament.

The Curious Case of Texas A&M

One of the most talked about bubble teams in recent weeks has been Texas A&M. After a win over Tennessee on Feb. 10, all the Aggies had to do was take care of business against lesser conference foes.

Instead, Buzz Williams’ squad did anything but that. Texas A&M fell apart in each of its next four games, including a pair of Quadrant III losses to Vanderbilt and Arkansas. The Aggies’ season is officially on life alert.

Four big games are on Texas A&M’s remaining schedule, all Quadrant I or II opportunities. Winning all four would supplant the Aggies back into the bubble conversation. After all, they do have wins over SMU, Iowa State, Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee on their resume.

But will the committee be able to overlook their 2-4 record in Quadrant III games?

It starts with a win against South Carolina at home Wednesday, and a dominant one at that. Get back to the physical A&M basketball that cleans up on the offensive glass and wears down opponents with persistent downhill attacks.

A&M is currently 6-6 in Quadrant I games and 2-2 in Quadrant II contests. All four remaining games fall into those categories. Plus, playing well in the SEC Tournament will be crucial.

The offense has gone stagnant for the Aggies, ranking 352nd in effective field-goal percentage. This is do-or-die time, and each game is becoming more critical than the last, especially with all the losses piling up.

Get above .500 in SEC play — Texas A&M is currently 6-8 — and I think sneaking in is definitely in the realm of possibility. But continue to stumble, and it’s the NIT for this veteran squad.

Tailspinning Out of the Tournament

The other team that has quickly found itself on the outside looking in is Chris Beard’s Ole Miss squad. The Rebels began the season 15-1 but have quickly become a victim to the brutality of SEC play.

Ole Miss has lost five of its last six — all of which were Quadrant I or II opportunities — to swing them in favor of an at-large bid.

This is an offense that has shot lights-out from 3 all season but has really struggled to find success inside, ranking 260th in 2-point percentage.

It lacks plenty defensively, too. The Rebels rank 355th in defensive rebounding, allowing the opposition to sustain long and draining possessions. They've allowed 70-plus points in six of their last seven games, as the offense can't propel them over more stout competition.

In general, Ole Miss was continually ranked lower by advanced analytics than what actually showed in its record. But Beard’s squad had been able to push off inevitable negative regression and keep a glimmer of postseason hope alive.

Now, a must-win game at home against Alabama is here. All momentum is gone for a Rebels team that now ranks 332nd in that category, per Haslametrics.

While things are looking bleak for A&M, the clock may have already struck 12 for Ole Miss.

For what it’s worth, the Rebels end the season at home against Texas A&M. Grab your popcorn because it could be a swing game for both squads.

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