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SEC Odds, Second State of Conference: Is This Title Race Really That Tight?

SEC Odds, Second State of Conference: Is This Title Race Really That Tight? article feature image
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Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tennessee Vols

In just two weeks of conference play, the balance of power in the SEC has begun to shift.

While the standings may show a very tight race, the odds board gives a much more accurate description of how the conference will play out.

So, let’s dive in and look at the state of the SEC.

Odds courtesy of Bet365


The Favorites

Tennessee Volunteers (+110)

Entering conference play, there were questions surrounding Tennessee, as its numbers on the offensive floor were not elite.

However, the Vols have shown their true potential through the first four SEC games.

They are undefeated in conference play, which featured two games in which they steamrolled Mississippi State and South Carolina.

The Vols are a team to keep your eye on, not just at the conference level, but on the national level. Their No. 1 defense could carry them a very long way.


Alabama Crimson Tide (+150)

Value on Alabama has dwindled since we last checked in. The Tide’s odds have increased from +350 to +150 because of two massive victories.

Nate Oats’ squad ran through the Kentucky Wildcats and then followed it up by defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks by 15 on its floor. These victories have vaulted the Tide to No. 4 in the country, and they now have the most impressive resume in the nation.

Only time will tell if they can sustain their dominance down the stretch, but according to KenPom, they are only projected to lose one more game this season.

That projected loss is against Tennessee on the road, but we must remember that this team defeated Houston on the road, so it will be up to the task.

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The Contenders

Arkansas Razorbacks (+1000)

The Razorbacks’ outlook has been flipped since the beginning of conference play. They have gone 1-3 in their first four games, and their losses have raised questions as to whether they can compete with the upper echelon of this conference.

They are a supremely athletic and talented team, but the Razorbacks have struggled to get things going offensively. They are 12th in offensive efficiency in the conference and last in 3-point percentage.

While it’s too early to count them out yet, they have not shown us that they can score enough to outlast teams that are equally proficient on defense.


Auburn Tigers (+2000)

Auburn has become the forgotten team in this conference, as it lost a great deal of talent from last year’s squad.

However, that has not stopped the Tigers from getting off to a great start.

They are a top-20 team in KenPom’s rankings and picked up a big victory over Arkansas recently.

This is a team that can be very streaky offensively, but has shown the defensive prowess to challenge any unit in the conference.


Kentucky Wildcats (+1100)

Coach Cal and his Wildcats have plummeted — they were parked right behind Tennessee when we last checked in — as they are fourth on the odds board.

Starting 1-3 in conference play is not a positive sign for UK. However, the poor quality of its losses have amplified its struggles.

Now, the season is far from over, and the Wildcats have the talent to turn it around. There’s data that shows how they can turn it around, and makes the Wildcats an interesting buy-low team if adjustments are made.

Data scientist Evan Miyakawa broke down how to fix the Kentucky Wildcats, and these adjustments are useful to look out for as they can become an indicator to invest in this squad.

Check out the full thread here:

🧵 How to fix Kentucky (or at least try) using analytics at https://t.co/cegyfz96ax:

🔼 More minutes for CJ Fredrick
🔻 Less Daimion Collins
📈 Try more of Oscar / Fredrick / Reeves trio
🏀 Emphasize getting to the foul line

Full details in 🧵 pic.twitter.com/A5JIoIQvne

— Evan Miyakawa (@EvanMiya) January 11, 2023

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The Lookahead

The SEC is loaded with action over the next few weeks, and there are quite a few matchups that will impact the outlook of the conference.

Let’s preview them and see if there are any angles to look out for.

Kentucky vs. No. 5 Tennessee

Saturday, Jan. 14
Noon ET
ESPN

In my game guide of Kentucky’s matchup against Alabama, I said that it was a make-or-break showdown for the Wildcats.

Well, after their bad loss in that game, another lousy loss here could be the end of Kentucky.

KenPom has the Volunteers projected as 13-point favorites for this matchup. My initial lean is to look for an under if we get a total of around 135, but if Jacob Toppin is in for Kentucky, it deserves a look as double-digit underdogs.


No. 15 Arkansas vs. No. 20 Missouri

Wednesday, Jan. 18
9 p.m. ET
SEC Network

Missouri is a team that continues to rise up the rankings. However, it may be getting too much love for this matchup.

KenPom has Arkansas as a one-point favorite on the road, and that’s a number to jump on if we get it.

Missouri will have difficulty dealing with the Razorbacks’ size on both ends of the floor.

I expect the Razorbacks to contain Kobe Brown and have loads of success in the paint on the offensive end of the floor, so I would play them up to -3.5.


No. 5 Tennessee vs. LSU

Saturday, Jan. 21
4 p.m. ET

Here we have a matchup where the Volunteers will face a team that can hang with them defensively.

LSU has the size to fend for itself in the paint and on the boards. Plus, the Tigers are ninth in 3-point percentage allowed, so they will give Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi issues.

KenPom has the Volunteers as 12-point favorites, but I’d be willing to back the Tigers at any double-digit number at home.

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