There weren’t any major surprises in Thursday’s SEC action. Vanderbilt, Missouri, Florida, and Ole Miss won, but Kentucky’s nightmare season was mercifully ended via a one point upset in a thriller against Mississippi State. Things should get far more interesting on Friday. The SEC’s two best teams — Alabama and Arkansas — are set to make their debuts in Round 3. Here are the matchups you can look forward on Friday’s slate.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 9 Mississippi State, 12 p.m., ESPN
Point Spread: Alabama -8.5
Point Total: 141
The Crimson Tide have looked like the best team in the SEC for most of the season, but they have had their fair share of slip-ups. Alabama is just 14-11-2 against the spread and 4-6-1 away from home. It’s been less than impressive in its two wins against Mississippi State this year, so this game could be closer than expected. A below-average shooting night from Alabama could help the underdog cover, even in the back half of a back-to-back. But they’re also rested, so...
The pick: Alabama -8.5
Point Spread: Tennessee -3
Point Total: 133
This should be Saturday’s most intriguing game. Tennessee beat Florida 65-54 in the final regular-season game, but got blown out earlier this season. The season series has to be settled, and I think Tennessee will have the last laugh. The Volunteers’ lottery talent — Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson — might not be primetime scorers, but their defense can often be the deciding factor in big games.
The pick: Tennessee -3
Point Spread: Arkansas -3
Point Total: 148
Arkansas is one of the country's hottest teams, and is gone on an eight-game winning streak since being upset by Oklahoma State. The Razorbacks have won by double-digits four times during their winning streak, and their run included a 15-point victory over Alabama. Missouri split its regular-season series against Arkansas at 1-1, but the Tigers should have much less pep in their step after barely edging out Georgia in the last round.
The pick: Arkansas -3
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Mississippi, 9:00 p.m., SEC Network
Point Spread: LSU -1.5
Point Total: 144
The Tigers finished the regular season on a high note by beating Vanderbilt and Missouri. They face an Ole Miss team that beat South Carolina 76-59 yesterday, but the more interesting implications here are for the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Rebs might need a win to advance, and that’s a lot more incentive than an up-and-down LSU has had all year.
The pick: Mississippi +1.5
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