Tuesday night was yet another reminder that SEC basketball can get wild.
What does Wednesday have in store for us? Well, considering that road teams are 15-8 in conference play this season (with another undefeated night on Tuesday), anything could happen.
Let’s dive into the games.
South Carolina (12-3, 2-0) at Tennessee (8-7, 1-2) – 6:30 PM ET, SEC Network
Prior to around 10 PM ET on Tuesday, I was fully set to take the Vols in an upset. As I mentioned in the first-ever Inside the Numbers column yesterday, Tennessee is one of the most battle-tested teams in the country, and I was willing to give them the upset win at home.
And then this happened:
Tennessee confirms the dismissal of junior guard Detrick Mostella.
— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) January 11, 2017
Mostella was tied with Grant Williams as the second leading scorer on the team with 10.5 points per game and came into the season as one of my potential breakout stars. Most importantly, he was a junior on a Tennessee team that is loaded with underclassmen who play significant minutes.
So yeah, this is a setback for the Vols. And it’s not good to have setbacks when Frank Martin’s squad heads into town.
South Carolina is doing what South Carolina does: the Gamecocks are playing incredible defense and forcing turnovers at will (opponents averaging 16.5 TO’s per game). Mostella was one of Tennessee’s best in terms of taking care of the ball, so that’s another bit of bad news for Rick Barnes and company heading into this game.
Some dismissals become an addition by subtraction type of scenario, but it’s way too early to know if that’ll be the case for Tennessee.
That’s why going with South Carolina is the easy choice here, even if this still winds up being a good game.
Prediction: South Carolina 68, Tennessee 60
Georgia (10-5, 2-1) at Ole Miss (10-5, 1-2) – 7 PM ET, ESPNU
To understand what we’re working with in this game, let’s consider a couple of things.
This season, Georgia has lost at Oakland and recently struggled to beat an awful Missouri team at home. Ole Miss trailed 48-19 to Middle Tennessee State at home and is still 289th in the country in scoring defense (77.5 PPG).
Consistency hasn’t been a strong suit for either team. That’s why absolutely anything could happen in this game.
Here’s what we know for sure: both teams feature a dangerous one-two punch. For the Bulldogs, Yante Maten continues to fly under the radar nationally despite being the second leading scorer in the league (20.2 PPG), and JJ Frazier is his usual playmaking self.
As for Ole Miss, Deandre Burnett isn’t too far behind Maten (19.0 PPG) and has simply been sensational throughout the season. Then there’s Sebastian Saiz, who’s averaging a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Those four guys could all break out and go wild in this one.
One aspect that helps the Rebels in this game is that, although they’re the worst team in the SEC in 3PT FG defense and overall defense, Georgia is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country (ranked 301st nationally). Of course, the Bulldogs also shoot considerably less threes than most SEC teams.
I could dive deeper into other stats, but there’s no reason to with this game. Both teams are difficult to trust, and that makes picking a winner difficult.
I’m gonna go with Ole Miss to score a minor upset at home only because I think its playing better basketball right now, and the Rebels’ supporting cast will outplay Georgia’s supporting cast.
Prediction: Ole Miss 80, Georgia 76
LSU (9-5, 1-2) at Texas A&M (8-6, 0-3) – 8:30 PM ET, SEC Network
We go from two unpredictable teams to a team coached by Johnny Jones and another team that’s turned the ball over 25 times in back-to-back games. Wonderful.
But while throwing all logic out the window is necessary when picking most SEC games, that’s not the case in this game in College Station.
Texas A&M comes in 0-3 in the conference and has lost every game by double digits. However, this is as must-win as it gets, and committing 25 turnovers against a bad defensive team like LSU isn’t going to happen.
Meanwhile, there’s no reason to believe that the Tigers should win this game. Which probably means that they will.
LSU has given up 94.5 PPG in its last four games, and with DJ Hogg on fire from outside and Tyler Davis going to work in the paint, the Aggies will not have trouble scoring. They probably won’t hit that 95-point mark since they will play at a slower pace than most teams, but they will score early and often.
Texas A&M unleashes some frustration and beats LSU handily.
Prediction: Texas A&M 81, LSU 62