Blake's Picks: Arkansas and Kentucky look to continue winning ways
Blake Lovell • 2/27/2021 in Basketball
(Elliott Hess/UK Athletics)
The SEC title race is down to Alabama and Arkansas, and both teams have interesting matchups after their showdown earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, Florida heads to Lexington, and Tennessee will try to find some offense at Auburn.
Let's dive into the picks.
Season Prediction Record (straight up): 7-5
No. 25 Tennessee (16-6, 9-6) at Auburn (11-13, 5-10) - Noon ET, ESPN
Sharife Cooper is officially out for the Tigers, so that could once again put Auburn at a disadvantage against a Tennessee team that ranks third nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. However, the Vols have struggled to score enough points to put teams away. They're coming off of a 12-point win at Vanderbilt, but it was far from a great performance given that the Commodores were missing three of its best players. Until the Vols find that next gear, they're not easy to trust.
Blake's Prediction: Tennessee 73, Auburn 64
South Carolina (5-12, 3-10) at Georgia (14-9, 7-9) - 1 PM ET, SEC Network
The Bulldogs have won four straight games, including scoring two victories against NCAA Tournament teams in Missouri and LSU. As for South Carolina, it's been a struggle. Frank Martin's squad has lost six straight, giving up 81 or more points in four of those games. Georgia can put up points, and that makes Sahvir Wheeler and company the better pick in this spot.
Blake's Prediction: Georgia 82, South Carolina 74
LSU (14-7, 9-5) at No. 20 Arkansas (18-5, 10-4) - 2 PM ET, ESPN2
We ranked four LSU players in our list of the top 14 players in SEC basketball this season. Yes, four. But even with that much talent on the floor for the Tigers, they've still had huge issues on defense. Enter an Arkansas team that's scored 75-plus points in four straight games against quality defensive teams. Sure, this could be a potential letdown spot for the Razorbacks after the emotional win against Alabama, but like Tennessee, LSU is hard to trust after a lackluster performance at Georgia.
Blake's Prediction: Arkansas 84, LSU 79
Ole Miss (13-9, 8-7) at Vanderbilt (6-13, 2-11) - 3:30 PM ET, SEC Network
The Rebels will have two games against the Commodores in a span of a week thanks to the SEC makeup game schedule. That won't do much for Ole Miss' NCAA Tournament resume, but it's simply about winning at this point. For Vanderbilt, Dylan Disu is out for the season, and both Scottie Pippen Jr. and Clevon Brown are questionable to play. The Commodores were competitive against Tennessee without that trio, but in the same scenario against Ole Miss, the visitors are still probably the best choice.
Blake's Prediction: Ole Miss 69, Vanderbilt 63
Florida (12-6, 8-5) at Kentucky (8-13, 7-7) - 4 PM ET, CBS
Kentucky's path to the NCAA tournament is through winning the SEC Tournament. But while that scenario may seem far-fetched, it's really not considering how the Wildcats have played as of late. Florida couldn't get hardly anything going on offense in a blowout loss to Kentucky in Gainesville back in early January, and now, the Gators face a group that's playing much better. I'm giving the Wildcats the nod.
Blake's Prediction: Kentucky 71, Florida 68
No. 6 Alabama (18-6, 13-2) at Mississippi State (13-11, 7-8) - 6 PM ET, SEC Network
It seems like this is always a tricky game for the Crimson Tide. It hasn't been easy for Alabama to win in Starkville, with Mississipi State winning the previous three meetings at The Hump. To add to that, the Tide is 1-3 in its last four road games. But the Bulldogs haven't exactly been consistent in their last three home games, losing by double digits to LSU and Vanderbilt before scoring a 21-point win against South Carolina. It probably won't be easy, but Alabama capturing the SEC regular season title is the pick in this one.
Blake's Prediction: Alabama 78, Mississippi State 75
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