SEC Tournament Odds & Picks: Ole Miss, Kentucky or Arkansas? Cases For Betting Each
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Boston
There’s still a long list of conferences yet to crown champions, with 15 championship games on Saturday followed by five more before the NCAA Tournament bracket is released on Sunday.
In order to help you navigate the jam-packed week of college basketball, our analysts have come together to deliver their top picks to win each of the remaining Power 6 and high-major conference tournaments.
You’ll find their favorite outright bets for the SEC Tournament below. Be sure to also check out their picks for the Big Ten and more conference tournaments here.
Shane McNichol: Ole Miss +4000
Like any longshot, there’s a reason the Rebels are paying out at such a high price.
Kermit Davis has a very flawed team with some bad losses on its resume. The teams that are seeded above Ole Miss and will receive an extra bye into the quarterfinals are all better than the Rebels.
Yet, there’s still value on Ole Miss as a dark horse. The Rebels are 7-2 since the start of February, with notable wins over Tennessee, Missouri (twice), and Kentucky in that stretch of their season. Ole Miss’ path through the SEC Tournament won’t include either of the conference’s two best teams, Alabama and Arkansas, until at least the semifinals.
Style of play is also in Mississippi’s favor.
Davis’ team features a rare defensive ability: Ole Miss plays slowly, ranking second-slowest in tempo in the conference but forces turnovers at a high level. Only nine teams in the nation force more turnovers on a per possession basis. Seven of those nine teams rank in the top 120 in the nation in tempo. Mississippi sits outside the top 320 in pace, relying more on length and scheme to harass opponents than pressure and chaos.
The slow pace should give the Rebels fresher legs in their quest to win four games in four days, but opponents facing Ole Miss with less than a day’s notice should be less prepared to handle the Rebels’ defensive prowess.
The Ole Miss offensive attack is low-variance, shooting 3-pointers at the second-lowest rate in the conference. A cold shooting night doesn’t doom this team.
If the Rebels’ defense shows up in Nashville, they have a puncher’s chance in every game they play.
Kyle Remillard: Kentucky +3000
Although some may call me crazy, I see value at +3000 on the Kentucky Wildcats to win the SEC Tournament.
They must win four games in a row to get a ticket to go dancing in March, and that challenge starts off with Mississippi State. Kentucky took down the Bulldogs in a double-OT thriller earlier in the year.
If the Wildcats recreate that effort, they will match up with the 1-seed Alabama. Kentucky went punch-for-punch with Alabama earlier in the year and held the lead with less than four minutes to play before going ice cold and ultimately losing, 70-59.
That loss was back in January, and Kentucky has begun playing some of its best basketball of the season as of late. It won four of its last six games and ended the season with its largest margin of victory, beating South Carolina by 28 points.
This Kentucky team is undoubtedly trending upward and has beaten some of the top teams in the conference already such as LSU, Tennessee, and Florida. The Cats also went down to the wire with Arkansas, losing by just one on the road.
Kentucky has four players who were ranked inside the top 30 in their recruiting class and have the talent needed to make a run.
At a price of +3000, I’m willing to put my money on a desperate John Calipari to make some magic happen to find a way to get into the NCAA Tournament.
Tanner McGrath: Arkansas +300
Arkansas is simply too hot to not bet right now.
The Razorbacks have won eight straight games and 11 of their last 12. Additionally, the team is 9-2 against the spread in its last 11 games. Good teams win, great teams cover.
While LSU is super efficient offensively and Alabama is super efficient defensively, Arkansas combines an above-average offense with an above-average defense. It finished the regular season third in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
While Alabama dominated the SEC this season, finishing with a 16-2 conference record, it also proved it can be vulnerable at times. The last time Alabama played Arkansas, the Razorbacks dominated the Crimson Tide when the two played on Feb. 24. Arkansas won by 15 despite shooting just 4-for-14 from 3.
Eric Musselman, who has proved he can really coach, has coached up a great combination of freshmen and grad transfers. Moses Moody has made the biggest jump over the course of the season, as he’s now scoring 17.5 points per game on 44% shooting.