OddsUSA Top Five Prop Bets For The SEC Championship Game

There was going to be a lot on the line this weekend in the SEC Championship game. Not regarding Alabama, of course. Win or lose, they are more than likely going to make the College Football Playoffs. It is just a matter of being the No. 1 seed or the No. 4 seed.

It was Florida that had a lot on the line. With a win and a loss by Clemson/Notre Dame and a win over Alabama, they had an excellent chance of jumping into the playoff picture—but then they lost to LSU last weekend.

Consequently, the stakes will not be as high as they would have been. The odds were really against Florida winning, anyway. Bovada has them listed as 17.5-point underdogs. But with the explosive potential in the Gators’ offense, there is a chance Florida could keep it close.

So, betting on the winner may not be as cut and dry as it might seem—which makes putting money down on one of the many prop bets being offered at Bovada appealing:

If there is one thing fans can count on happening in the SEC title game this year, these two teams will score lots of points. Alabama has been averaging almost 50 points a game this season. Florida has averaged a little over 41.

Alabama’s defense is good, but it is unlikely the Crimson Tide shut down Kyle Trask. At the same time, the Florida defense is not bad, but it is certainly not good enough to shut down or maybe even slow down Mac Jones.

The official total for the game is 74.5, and it would be surprising if the over did not get covered. So, a better question may be just how high a total these teams could cover. It all depends on how well you think both offenses will perform.

Alabama is likely going to be good for their season average, if not more. Florida could exploit Alabama’s secondary and do the same. So, take anything the over on anything over 75 points; anything from 75-80 is probably safe. Anything over 80 is possible, but with an element of risk.

Best Prop Bet: OVER 75 (-105)

#1 Alabama Total Points (O/U)

Over 45.5 (-110)
Under 45.5 (-120)

Alabama has been averaging over 49 points a game this season, and there is little reason to think they can’t hit that mark against Florida this weekend. The Gators’ defense has not been bad this season, but it has not been good enough to slow down the Alabama offense.

If Texas A&M can gain over 500 yards of offense and score 41 points, Alabama can score more than 45.5. Take the over.

Best Prop Bet: OVER 45.5 points (-110)

#7 Florida Total Points (O/U)

Over 28.5 (EVEN)
Under 28.5 (-135)

Florida’s season average of 41.2 points/game makes the over seem like a no-brainer. But when you consider Alabama’s defense has allowed an average of just 16.8, the decision becomes a little more challenging. However, the Alabama defense is not great against the pass (57th), and Kyle Trask is the best quarterback in the nation not named Mac Jones.

Take the over.

Best Prop Bet: OVER 28.5 (EVEN)

‘Bama-Florida Winning Margin

Alabama By 1-6 Points (+600)
Florida By 1-6 Points (+900)

Alabama By 7-12 Points (+550)
Florida By 7-12 Points (+1800)

Alabama By 13-18 Points (+475)
Florida By 13-18 Points (+3000)

Alabama By 19-24 Points (+550)
Florida By 19-24 Points (+5000)

Alabama By 25-30 Points (+650)
Florida By 25-30 Points (+8000)

Alabama By 31-36 Points (+800)
Florida By 31-36 Points (+10000)

Alabama By 37-42 Points (+1400)
Florida By 37-42 Points (+10000)

Alabama By 43 Or More Points (+1000)
Florida By 43 Or More Points (+12500)

The only thing that could be more shocking than Florida’s loss to LSU last weekend would be the blowing out Alabama this weekend. More than likely, the game is going to be a high scoring but close affair with either Alabama or Florida winning by 1-6 points.

But is there a chance Alabama blows out Florida? Eh—yes, but not a great chance. Take Alabama to win by 1-6 points but put a little down on them to win by 13-18 points as well.  

Best Prop Bet: Alabama by 1-6 points (+600); Alabama by 13-18 points (+475)

Race To 40 Points

Florida (+1800)
Alabama (-220)
Neither (+205)

Alabama is the obvious choice for this one, but what if the game ends up being a back and forth affair. If that is the case, then there is an excellent chance Florida is the first to crack 40 points. Now, this wager is not one you want to bet the house on. But with those odds, it could very well be worth it to put a little down on Florida.

Best Prop Bet: Gators +1800

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 7 Florida Gators Betting Preview

Saturday, December 19, 2020, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia. 8:10 p.m. ET

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Betting Preview: Crimson Tide (-17), Gators (+17)

Crimson Tide

Alabama’s Mac Jones enters the Southeastern Conference Championship Game as a strong Heisman Trophy contender despite a low-key performance (208 yards passing, no scores) in a 52-3 rout at Arkansas last week,

Jones’ numbers this season are video-game quality: 3,321 yards passing, 76.4 completion percentage, 27 touchdowns, three interceptions. They are a major reason for the overwhelming success of the No. 1 Crimson Tide (10-0, 10-0 SEC), whose closest game has been a 63-48 win at Ole Miss.

They have averaged nearly 50 points a game (49.5) while holding their opponents to under 17 (16.8).

While a cynic might say that throwing to the likes of DeVonta Smith and John Metchie — and handing off to Najee Harris — could make any quarterback productive, the fact is that the Tua Tagovailoa-led offense from last year has skipped zero beats with Jones running it.

The moniker “game manager” has been used to describe Jones, and he doesn’t disagree with it.

“Nothing is really offensive about it,” he told al.com. “I mean, I try to manage the game. It’s kind of my job to do that. Honestly, I have a lot of great players around me, so that’s my job – to get them the ball.”

Smith (83 catches, 1,327 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Metchie (40-720-6) have more than made up for the absence of big-play threat Jaylen Waddle, who was averaging 140 yards per game before suffering a season-ending injury while returning the opening kickoff Oct. 24 at Tennessee.

The Tide enters the title game averaging 49.5 points and 537.8 yards per game, No. 3 and No. 5 in the nation, respectively.

Harris has averaged 108.4 yards a game rushing with 22 touchdowns. He also has 27 receptions for 249 yards.

Gators

Marco Wilson’s thrown shoe was as much metaphor as cause.

Florida’s hopes of qualifying for the College Football Playoff were in peril before the defensive back heaved opposing tight end Kole Taylor’s footwear 20 yards downfield to celebrate a third-down stop late last week against heavy underdog LSU.

The ensuing 15-yard penalty kept alive a drive that ended in a 57-yard field goal with 23 seconds left and snapped a 34-34 tie. When the Gators’ Evan McPherson’s 51-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide as time expired, so had the Gators’ chances of playing for a national title with the 37-34 loss.

Without the national title in sight, the No. 7 Gators (8-2, 8-2 SEC) have to match up with top-ranked Alabama (10-0, 10-0 SEC) for the conference crown.

While keyboard jockeys and social media warriors heaped blame on Wilson, his teammates saw turnovers and shaky defense as the deciding factors in the loss. Florida offset 609 yards of offense with three crucial turnovers, including a pick-six, and gave up 418 yards to a team using its backup quarterback.

“Turning the ball over that many times, it’s hard to win games,” Florida quarterback Kyle Trask said. “I take full responsibility. I just got to play cleaner. It’s not the way you want to go out as your last home game in the Swamp.”

For the Gators to have a chance at beating the Crimson Tide, Trask will have to eliminate the turnovers and play perhaps his best game. He threw his 40th touchdown pass of the season in his 10th game last week to surpass Danny Wuerffel’s single-season school record for touchdown passes.

Trask, who passed for an average of 377..7 yards a game, will have Kyle Pitts, perhaps the nation’s top tight end, back as a target this week. Pitts sat out the LSU game with an undisclosed injury. He has 36 catches for 641 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns in his seven appearances.

Crimson Tide vs. Gators  Betting Pick for December 19, 2020

Two recent scores against a common opponent bear heavily in the Tide’s favor. The Tide romped past LSU 55-17 in Tiger Stadium just a week before LSU beat Florida 37-34 in Gainesville.

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Betting Pick:

 Crimson Tide 48, Gators 31

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Best Bet for December 19, 2020

The Tide is coming off a pair of 50-point performances in wins over LSU (55-17) and Arkansas (52-3) the last two weeks, giving them five games with at least 52 points. The Gators have shown they can score as well with 42.2 per game scoring average, but they also have given up some big numbers, like 41 in a loss at Texas A&M  and 35 in a win over Arkansas in addition to the 37 surrendered last week to a freshman LSU quarterback.

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Best Bet: OVER 74.5

LSU Tigers at No. 6 Florida Gators Betting Preview

Saturday, December 12, 2020, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida, 7 p.m. ET

Tigers at Gators Betting Preview: Tigers  (+22), Gators (-22)

Tigers

No repeat championship is possible for LSU (3-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference), but a win or two in the next couple of games could land the Tigers a bowl bid and give coach Ed Orgeron’s young Tigers valuable playing time. 

“Another chance to compete, another chance for young players to get better, more practice time,” he said.’

A week ago against No. 1 Alabama, 33 of the 55 players that LSU put on the field were underclassmen, and 19 true freshmen have seen playing time for the Tigers. The Tigers lost 55-17 to the Tide but Orgeron put a positive spin on the beatdown.

“I was pleased the offense scored 17 points,” he said. “We missed that fourth-and-short going in to tie the game 7-7. Could have been a difference in the ballgame very early. We didn’t get that done. We have to improve on that stuff. I thought overall offensively we made some improvements in some areas.”

LSU has used a number of quarterbacks this year. Its current depth chart contains the word “or” a lot, as in it will be either TJ Finley “or” Max Johnson to start.

Finley has completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 188.2 yards a game in five appearances. Johnson has played in four games, completing 60.3 percent of his attempts for 98.8 yards a game.

More “or” words appear up and down the two-deep.

A wave of players opting out — including top receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and, possibly, tight end Arik Gilbert — have introduced “nor” into the conversation.

Gators

No. 6 Florida’s hopes for a national championship ride on some team near the top of the College Football Playoff rankings slipping up over the final two weeks of the season.

Coach Dan Mullen knows that unless his Gators (8-1, 8-1 SEC) play up to their capabilities, the team slipping up just could be his own — especially this weekend against LSU.

Never mind LSU’s record this season, Mullen warned. The Tigers are loaded with young talent and can explode against any team that overlooks them.

“They’ve got a lot of talent,” Mullen said. “They put up a lot of points. They’ve lost a lot of guys, so they’re a young team.”

LSU has some playmakers and mismatches on offense from the running backs, Mullen said.

“Different wideouts that can cause you issues,” he said. “Defensively, they got DBs that can cover on the back end and a big physical group up front.”

Mullen is aware that his team has been far from perfect, especially after last week’s game when unranked Tennessee threw a bit of a scare at the Gators during Florida’s 31-19 victory.

“We’ve just got to execute better,” Mullen said. “It’s not to say we weren’t very good. I think we missed a lot of opportunities last week. I think we had three possessions start on the plus side of the field with zero points. We should be 100 percent on that. I think we left 21 points on the field.”

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has established himself as a legitimate Heisman candidate in passing for 3,243 yards for 38 touchdowns with just three interceptions. LSU coach Ed Orgeron credits Mullen for “finding” Trask.

“He’s a diamond in the rough,” Orgeron said of Trask. “I think you look at 38 touchdowns to three interceptions. The way he operates, the way he finds the guys. Dan is a great gameday caller. He knows exactly what to do with his quarterback. I think it’s a combination of a great quarterback and a great caller.”

Tigers at Gators Betting Pick for December 12, 2020

The Gators lead the series 33-30-3 but the Tigers have won seven of the last 10 meetings, including last year by a 42-28 score in Baton Rouge. The Tigers also have won three of the last five meetings in Gainesville.

Tigers at Gators Betting Pick:

Gators 31, Tigers 17

Tigers at Gators Best Bet for December 12, 2020

Despite the two-touchdown defeat in last year’s loss to LSU, Trask passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns for the Gators against the Tigers last year with Kyle Pitts catching five passes for 108 yards. Trask is coming off a 433-yard passing performance in the Gators’ win over Tennessee last week while the Tigers managed only 352 yards of total offense in a 55-17 loss to Alabama.

Tigers at Gators Best Bet: UNDER 67

Thursday NCAAB Best Bets: Back the Huskies to get past Trojans

After a Wednesday evening college basketball slate that brought us Gonzaga-West Virginia and Illinois-Baylor amongst a whole host of matchups, the Thursday college hoops slate has its fair share of goodies as well.

Let’s jump right into the games I have circled for tonight’s action.

UConn vs. USC

Game to be played at Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)

Spread: UConn -1.5
Total:
O/U 136.5
Time/TV:
7:00 PM ET, ESPN

The Mohegan Sun Arena is only about 30 miles away from the UConn campus, leaving Dan Hurley’s UConn Huskies with the short trip into ‘Bubbleville’ as UConn (2-0) prepares to face USC (3-0) in the semifinals of the Roman Legends Classic.

These two teams were set to square off yesterday from inside the Mohegan Sun bubble, but Vanderbilt had to withdraw from the preseason tournament due to, you guessed it, COVID-19 cases within their team, leaving UConn to get the winner of yesterday’s BYU/USC game instead.

USC would prevail in that contest by the score of 79-53, and the Trojans dominated the Cougars in the paint as brothers Evan and Isaiah Mobley each chipped in a double-double in yesterday’s blowout victory.

Meanwhile, UConn hasn’t been in action since a 69-57 victory over Hartford on Black Friday, leaving open the possibility that they may enter tonight’s contest with a bit of rust.  Additionally, USC is already familiar with the layout of the Mohegan Sun Arena during the bubble setup, while UConn is not, again potentially giving USC a slight edge in an otherwise neutral setting.

That’s not to say the Huskies won’t come ready to play, however.  Despite struggling to manufacture points in last Friday’s victory, UConn could still pose a lot of problems to USC’s backcourt with the scoring tandem of sophomore James Bouknight (19.0 ppg) and former Howard star RJ Cole (13.5 ppg), and forward Isaiah Whaley (8.5 rpg) will be tasked with the difficult assignment of controlling one of the Mobley brothers on the glass.

USC has shot the lights out to start the season, shooting a scorching-hot 53.5% from the floor in their first three games.  Can they continue that hot shooting in a tough back-to-back situation against the best team they’ve seen all season?  I’m not so sure.

Look for the Trojans to start out of the gates quickly considering they’re more accustomed to the neutral court than their opponents, but also look for UConn to close the gap quickly once they get their bearings straight.

I am going to lean on the team that should be a little more rested for this matchup and take Dan Hurley’s Huskies to escape with a narrow victory.  However, I will take them on the moneyline to avoid a possible 1-point margin of victory for UConn.

Prediction: UConn 73, USC 70
Best Bet: UConn ML (-115)

Marshall at Wright State

Spread: Marshall -1
Total: O/U 153
Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET, ESPN+

This second matchup on the card could be a lot of fun.

Free-scoring Marshall hits the road to meet two-time defending Horizon League champion Wright State in a non-conference battle.

Honestly, I don’t care about who comes out on top in this one.  I don’t even have a side I’ll be rooting for. 

So why on Earth is this on my card for the night?

One word: Scoring.

Marshall enters tonight’s game riding a 70-56 victory over Arkansas State in their season opener, while this is the season opener for Scott Nagy’s Wright State Raiders.

While Marshall’s first game isn’t exactly the best evidence to take the over with a total in the 150’s, when you dissect the style of tempo Arkansas State plays at, you see how their slow and methodical approach when paired with a roster of players that can’t shoot the ball would drive a game total to be in the 120’s.

Wright State does not like to play at a slow pace as evidenced by their 31st overall KenPom adjusted tempo ranking.  They love to run up and down the floor and defense is sometimes optional.

Funny enough, that’s exactly how you can describe the Thundering Herd as well.  Marshall played all of last season as the team with the 3rd quickest tempo in the country.  They’re projected to be in the Top 5 for playing tempo again this season, and when you pair that against another team that likes to boogie up and down the floor, you tend to get higher scoring affairs.

If there’s any pause on this bet, it’s the fact this is Wright State’s first game of the season, but I’m going to roll the dice all the same and take the over in this one.  Don’t let me down Raiders.

Prediction: Wright State 80, Marshall 77
Best Bet: OVER 153

Florida vs. Boston College

Game to be played at Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)

Spread: Florida -6
Total: O/U 141.5
Time/TV: 9:30 PM ET, ESPN

The second matchup from ‘Bubbleville’ at the Mohegan Sun Arena will see Florida (1-0) taking on Boston College (1-2).

Florida officially began their 2020-21 season from the bubble on Wednesday with a 76-69 win over Army that had the Gators looking like a team that had yet to play a game this year, as they trailed by 8 at the half before waking up in the second half to eventually take control of the game.

Boston College, meanwhile, is set to play their fourth game of the season, all of which have been played at Mohegan Sun Arena, so if there is a team that has familiarity with the temporary digs, it’s the Eagles.

The Gators should at least come into today’s game with a lot less rust to deal with than they experienced during their win over Army yesterday.  While Boston College’s tandem of Wynston Tabbs and Jay Heath are averaging over 30 points per game combined to open up the season, Mike White’s Florida Gators are routinely one of the best defensive teams in the country.

The Gators’ defense will be put to the test tonight, however, as Florida has had multiple disruptions to the start of their season, as they had to back out of initially being in the Mohegan Sun Arena bubble due to COVID-19 cases within their roster and did not know they were even participating in this tournament until Sunday.

That could leave Florida’s perimeter defense more vulnerable than usual, and when paired with the fact that Boston College is already quite familiar playing in this setting, that could have this matchup be closer than it would be otherwise.

The Gators will return to their old ways soon enough, but tonight I see Boston College giving them a tough game and maybe even winning outright.  I’ll take a swing at Boston College and the points.

Prediction: Florida 74, Boston College 70
Best Bet: Boston College +6

Kentucky Wildcats at No. 6 Florida Gators Betting Preview

Saturday, November 28, 2020, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida, noon ET

Wildcats at Gators Betting Preview: Wildcats (+24), Gators (-24)

Kentucky Wildcats Betting Preview

The Wildcats (3-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) suffered through a soul-searching loss last week in Tuscaloosa, falling 63-3 to top-ranked Alabama. That was the third-worst defeat in school history since 1950. Three of the top four shellackings suffered by the Wildcats have come in the Sunshine State against the Gators.

With Steve Spurrier at the helm, Florida drubbed the Wildcats in 1994 and 1996 — 73-7 and 65-0, respectively — and Urban Meyer’s Florida team walloped them 63-5 in 2008.

But despite their struggles against Florida over the last three decades, the Wildcats lately have fought fiercely in the series.

In the past six meetings, all but one game was close – Florida’s 45-7 rout in 2016 – and four were decided by eight points or less.

In the loss to the Crimson Tide, eighth-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was without many key contributors, including top rusher Chris Rodriguez. Rodriguez has amassed 562 yards and a team-high six touchdowns.

Kentucky started strong with 121 yards in the first quarter, but the offense generated just 27 yards in the second half and tried desperately to get something going with quarterbacks Terry Wilson, Joey Gatewood and Beau Allen. The three were a combined 10 of 25 passing for just 120 yards against the Tide.

While Stoops said there were good points to take from the big loss, junior defensive end Joshua Paschal worried about the long-term effect on younger teammates.

“This is not acceptable for us,” Paschal said. “We know that as players, as a whole football team, as a whole organization.

“As leaders, we are going to put it on the young guys, so the young guys know that this isn’t acceptable, this is not who we are, this won’t happen again.”

No. 6 Florida Gators Betting Preview

The No. 6 Gators (6-1, 6-1 SEC) will look to create another winning streak against SEC East foe Kentucky in Gainesville, Fla. The two teams have met 70 times with the Gators holding a 52-18 advantage over the Wildcats.

In the driver’s seat in the SEC East after defeating rival Georgia 44-28 on Nov. 7, Florida has to defeat just two of its last three opponents — Kentucky, at Tennessee (2-5) on Dec. 5, and at home against LSU (3-3) on Dec. 12 – to clinch the division and advance to the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19.

The Gators appeared to go through the motions for a half at winless Vanderbilt last week before pulling away for a 38-17 victory. They received 383 passing yards and three touchdown passes from standout quarterback Kyle Trask, who leads the nation in touchdown passes with 28.

Florida coach Dan Mullen said Monday Trask would get back his top target this weekend with star tight end Kyle Pitts (24 catches, 414 yards, eight TDs) returning from a concussion and nose surgery.

“He’s such a playmaker, he’s such a leader,” Mullen said. “The matchup problem he causes defenses is great to have him back with us.”

Linebacker James Houston (13 tackles and a sack in four games) also is expected to return.

Wildcats at Gators Betting Prediction

The Gators have won 28 of 33 meetings with the Wildcats in Gainesville, though the Wildcats won the last one 27-16 in 2018 on Florida’s turf, snapping a 31-year losing streak to the Gators.

Florida bounced back with a 29-21 win in Lexington last year with Trask taking over from an injured Feleipe Franks and rallying the Gators from a 21-10 deficit by passing for 126 yards and rushing for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Wildcats at Gators Betting Pick:

Gators 52, Wildcats 14

Wildcats at No. 6 Gators Best Bet

The Gators have scored at least 35 points in a school-record nine consecutive games with seven in a row against SEC competition, also a school record. After holding Georgia to just 14 points, the Wildcats have surrendered 35 in a win over Vanderbilt and 63 in a big loss at Alabama.

Wildcats at Gators Best Bet: OVER 59.5

–Field Level Media

SEC College Basketball 2020/21 Preview

The premier college football conference in the country is also quite the formidable conference when it comes to college basketball, but last season the SEC was in a down year that would eventually be wiped away from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The SEC was likely looking at a max of four bids in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, a far cry from the previous season that saw the conference send seven teams to the dance.  The 2020-21 season figures to be just as top-heavy as the conference was a season ago, but the contenders in this conference are amongst the best teams in all of college basketball, giving the SEC a very realistic shot of seeing one of their schools land in the 2021 Final Four.

How does the conference as a whole shake out?  Let’s take a look at the SEC.

The Contenders

#10 Kentucky (+120 to Win SEC)

This will surprise absolutely nobody who follows the sport of college basketball, but guess what?  John Calipari landed the #1 recruiting class in the country again! 

Once again Coach Cal’s ‘Cats are poised for a roster reboot as his next class of phenom freshmen finds their way to Lexington.  Seven freshmen in all will decorate the Kentucky roster, most notably of the combo of BJ Boston (7th overall ranked recruit) and Terrence Clarke (10th overall ranked recruit).

The freshmen wing tandem is, naturally, extremely athletic and talented and will give SEC defenses fits in their likely lone season playing for Big Blue Nation.  The tandem is already projected to be drafted in the lottery of next season’s NBA Draft, with Boston being in the mix to potentially go #1 overall. 

This season, however, Calipari adds a new wrinkle by adding two key senior transfers in former Wake Forest big Olivier Sarr (13.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and former Creighton shooting threat Davion Mintz (9.7 ppg in 2018/19).

Kentucky is once again absolutely loaded with talent, and once again it’s a roster that will get better as the season goes on.  The Wildcats are considered the odds-on favorite to win the SEC for a reason, they should be considered the team to beat in this conference and have a very real shot to play at Lucas Oil Stadium in early April.

#12 Tennessee (+350 to Win SEC)

If there’s a team capable of ruining Kentucky’s jaunt to the top of the SEC standings, look no further than Rick Barnes’ Tennessee Volunteers.  The Vols enter the new season as the preseason #1 team in the conference, yet a lot of people are not aware of how good this team can be.

The Vols in fact could be one of the biggest sleepers in the country. 

This is a team that does not have any apparent weaknesses.  It returns four of the top scorers from a season ago, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year in senior Yves Pons (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg), and the 3rd best-recruiting class in the nation led by potential NBA lottery pick Jaden Springer.

That doesn’t even mention the addition of Sacred Heart grad-transfer E.J. Anosike (15.7 ppg, 11.6 rpg) or the return of senior forward John Fulkerson (13.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

The 2019/20 season was a rebuilding season of sorts for the Vols after they watched as Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Jordan Bone, and Kyle Alexander all departed the program either through graduation or going pro.  The season was made even more challenging when Barnes lost star Lamonte Turner for the season just 11-games into the year.

This season should see the Vols bouncing back in a big way, however, and Tennessee is not only a viable contender to unseat Kentucky at the top, but they’re also a dark horse for a deep run in March.  This team has it all and will be worth your attention all season.  

The Dangerous Dark Horses

LSU (+500 to Win SEC)

While a lot of attention this season will be on Kentucky and Tennessee, don’t forget about Will Wade’s LSU Tigers as a potentially dangerous sleeper in the conference.

The Tigers boast one of the deeper rosters in the country and return sophomore standout Trendon Watford (13.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg) along with the junior tandem of Ja’vonte Smart (12.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Darius Days (11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg).  Mix in a top-10 recruiting class headlined by sharpshooting guard Cameron Thomas, sprinkle in a couple of transfers like Shareef O’Neal (UCLA), Bryan Penn-Johnson (Washington), and Josh LeBlanc (Georgetown) and LSU has a potentially lethal offensive group once again.

LSU’s bugaboo a season ago came on the defensive side of the floor, however, as the Tigers were social distancing before it was cool.  Time and time again the Tigers would see big leads evaporate as LSU just could not clamp down on the defensive end of the floor.  Wade should get a boost from his two big transfers in O’Neal and Penn-Johnson, but ultimately how well they defend will determine how far they go this season.

One thing’s for certain, however, and that is the fact that LSU will be one of the most entertaining teams in the country to watch again.  Look for the Tigers to be involved in a lot of high-scoring thrillers throughout the season.

Florida (+900 to Win SEC)

The Florida Gators enter the 2020/21 season hoping to erase a disappointing 2019/20 campaign that saw the Gators vastly underperform to their preseason expectations.

Mike White’s Gators were tabbed as the #6 overall team when the first rankings came out a season ago, but the Gators played anything like the sixth-best team in the nation on their way to a 19-12 season with an 11-7 record in the SEC.

While that’s certainly not the worst season in the world, it still fell far short of Florida’s aspirations for the season to contend for a conference title and make a deep run in the tournament.

The Gators may not be down for too long, however, as they return the bulk of last season’s team including All-SEC wing player Keyontae Johnson (14.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and rising-star sophomore Scottie Lewis (8.5 ppg), and bolster their bench by adding two key transfers in former Cleveland State guard Tyree Appleby (17.2 ppg, 5.6 apg) and former Louisiana Tech forward Anthony Duruji (12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg).

Florida did lose Virginia Tech grad-transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. to graduation and standout point guard Andrew Nembhard (11.2 ppg, 5.6 apg) transferred to Gonzaga, but there should be enough talent on the roster to mitigate those losses.

Once again, the Gators look like a dangerous team on paper but it remains to be seen how that will translate to the floor.  If they can play closer to their potential this season, the Gators are a legitimate threat to make a lot of noise in the SEC.

Arkansas (+1200 to Win SEC)

Rarely can a team stomach the loss of six of your top seven scorers and come back and be projected to be even better in the following season, but that’s what’s on tap for Eric Musselman’s Arkansas Razorbacks in year two of his coaching tenure.

The Hogs do not return a single starter from a season ago as free-shooting Isaiah Joe (16.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and first-team All-SEC guard Mason Jones each departed for the NBA, but they do add six impactful transfers and inked the 7th best-recruiting class in the land to quickly reload the roster, leaving Musselman’s team loaded with talent at every position.

Notable transfers to keep an eye on for the Hogs include Northern Kentucky grad-transfer Jalen Tate (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and New Mexico grad-transfer Vance Jackson (11.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg). They will likely join Indiana transfer Justin Smith (10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) in the Razorbacks’ starting five and should immediately contribute in Musselman’s free-flowing offense.

The biggest question circling this team entering the season is whether or not Musselman may actually have too much talent.  Hammering out the rotations and getting the right chemistry will ultimately determine the fate of a team that’s so dependent on the influx of new talent.  If the talent comes together as expected and the team gels, this is a dark horse to make a run in March.  But if the chemistry just never comes together, we’ve seen many teams that have unraveled with the heavy transfer approach.

The Middle of the Pack

Alabama (+1600 to Win SEC)

While Alabama’s basketball season doesn’t officially start for many Tide boosters until Nick Saban’s playoff run concludes, Bama faithful may have a lot to look forward to from their basketball team this season.

Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats enters his second season in Tuscaloosa with an arsenal of offensive weapons, most notably the backcourt combination of Jaden Shackelford (15.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and John Petty (14.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg).  Oats will also have the services of Villanova point guard Jahvon Quinerly and Yale grad-transfer Jordan Bruner (10.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg), and the Crimson Tide’s starting five looks as good as any in the conference.

Alabama will miss star guard Kira Lewis, who was drafted 13th overall by the Pelicans, but they get back four-star talent Juwan Gary and top-five JUCO product James Rojas who were both lost for the season a year ago with ACL tears suffered in practice.

That potentially gives Oats a roster deep in talent, but if the Tide are to contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament this season and a possible top-four standing in the conference they will need to tighten up a defense that gave up nearly 80 points a contest a season ago.

South Carolina (+1600 to Win SEC)

Frank Martin’s Gamecocks overachieved a season ago as they finished above .500 in conference play at 10-8 and went 18-13 overall on the season after being projected to finish 10th in the SEC before the season began.

South Carolina enters the new season with heightened expectations as they return all but two players from a season ago and have one of the more experienced teams in the entire conference.

Unlike LSU and Alabama, Frank Martin’s Gamecocks defend the hell out of opponents and this has been his calling card since his Kansas State days.  Last season South Carolina had the 16th best scoring defense and 19th best three-point shooting defense according to KenPom and this season should not be much different.  Martin’s group has been incredibly consistent dating all the way back to South Carolina’s random run to the Final Four and have ranked in the Top 50 for defensive efficiency in four of the past five seasons.

Offensively is where South Carolina tends to sputter, however.  Per KenPom rankings, South Carolina’s best offensive team came back in 2017 when they were the 91st overall ranked unit, and a season ago they were ranked 122nd in the country.  Essentially they are a bit of a mess in the half-court and generate a lot of their best offense from their tenacious 2-3 matchup defense.  The Gamecocks will lock teams down, but will also endure long scoring droughts of their own.  It’s just a stable of Frank Martin’s team.

The best scoring threats on the roster come in the Carolina backcourt with leading scorer A.J. Lawson (13.4 ppg) returning for his junior season and redshirt sophomore Jermaine Couisnard (12.1 ppg) playing alongside him at point guard. 

Ultimately, the fate of South Carolina’s season lies in improving an offense that can flat out disappear for long periods.  If they can match their strong defensive play with a consistent scoring attack, the Gamecocks have sleeper potential to crack the top-six of the conference.  In all likelihood, though they will be very similar to last season’s team and trade upsets with losses to teams they shouldn’t lose to.

The Long Shots

Auburn (+4000 to Win SEC)
Missouri (+5000 to Win SEC)
Ole Miss (+6000 to Win SEC)
Georgia (+10000 to Win SEC)
Mississippi State (+10000 to Win SEC)
Texas A&M (+10000 to Win SEC)
Vanderbilt (+10000 to Win SEC)

Out of all the power conferences in the country, the SEC is by far the most top-heavy.  The ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are very easy to spot in the SEC this season.  Here’s a quick look at the long shots to win the conference.

Auburn lost all five starters from a season ago, including NBA lottery pick Issac Okoro, leaving Bruce Pearl to have a 2020/21 transitional season of sorts.  Pearl did land one of the biggest recruits in the country in Sharife Cooper (20th overall recruit), but Cooper’s eligibility still remains in question and as of this writing he is not cleared to play.  Couple that with Auburn self-imposing a postseason ban for the 2020/21 season, and we do not expect much from Pearl’s Tigers this season.

Missouri returns eight players that started a game for the Tigers a season ago but are still expected to finish towards the bottom of the conference as the eight players returning aren’t exactly the 2014/15 Kentucky Wildcats.  Cuanzo Martin does get back the guard tandem of Xavier Pinson (11.1 ppg) and Mark Smith (10.0 ppg), however, after injury-riddled seasons plagued each of Martin’s two best players. 

Ole Miss enters season three under former Mid Tennessee State head coach Kermit Davis and is coming off of a disappointing 15-17 season that saw the Rebels go a miserable 1-10 when they went on the road.  Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic shrunken crowds will help Ole Miss cure their road woes?  The team does add three key grad transfers in former CS-Bakersfield guard Jarkell Joiner (15.6 ppg), former Rider wing Dimencio Vaughn (14.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg), and former Arizona State rim protector Romello White (10.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg).  The Rebels are unlikely to contend for an SEC crown, but if everything comes together they could very well be in the mix for a postseason bid.

Georgia loses #1 overall draft pick Anthony Edwards and four of the team’s top six scorers from a season ago, leaving Tom Crean faced with the task of retooling a roster on the fly.  Georgia will have eight new players in all, with Sahvir Wheeler (9.0 ppg, 4.5 apg) being the best returning Bulldog.  Crean also welcomes in three transfers including that of former Stony Brook product Andrew Garcia (13.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and former Virginia Tech forward P.J. Horne (7.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg), but the cupboard will need another season to restock.

Mississippi State is down three starters from a season ago, including the 2020 co-SEC player of the year Reggie Perry.  Ben Howland has also watched four other players leave the program via the transfer portal, leaving the Bulldogs in a full-blown rebuilding season for 2020/21.  Howland should turn it around and get the Bulldogs back to the middle of the conference in the coming seasons, but this year will be one where they figure to take several lumps from their conference foes.  Four-star freshman Deivon Smith will be a fun player to pay attention to for Howland’s ‘Dogs, however.

Texas A&M enters season two under coach Buzz Williams and while the Aggies program is slowly turning back around, it’s not quite there yet.  Seniors Savion Flagg (10.4 ppg), Quenton Jackson (8.8 ppg), and Quinnipiac grad-transfer Kevin Marfo (10.2 ppg, 13.3 rpg) will be the catalyst’s for Williams team this season, but TAMU figures to still be at least a year or two away from seriously contending in the conference. 

Vanderbilt is just bad.  They will be the SEC’s whipping boy for the third-consecutive season. 

SEC Projected Order of Finish:

  1. Tennessee
  2. Kentucky
  3. LSU
  4. Arkansas
  5. Florida
  6. Alabama
  7. South Carolina
  8. Ole Miss
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Mississippi State
  11. Auburn
  12. Missouri
  13. Georgia
  14. Vanderbilt

No. 6 Florida Gators at Vanderbilt Commodores Betting Preview

Saturday, November 21, 2020, Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee, noon ET

Gators at Commodores Betting Preview: Gators (-31.5), Commodores (+31.5)

Florida Gators Betting Preview

No. 6 Florida hopes to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive when it visits Vanderbilt.

The Gators (5-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) have been on a roll since their 41-38 loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 10, thanks to an offense that averages 45.8 points and 511.7 yards per game and 7.4 yards per play.

Gators quarterback Kyle Trask has 2,171 passing yards with 28 touchdowns and three interceptions to establish himself as a Heisman Trophy contender. 

Trask has plenty of help. Eight Gators have logged at least 100 receiving yards with tight end Kyle Pitts leading the way with 24 receptions for 414 yards and eight touchdowns.

The defense is doing its part as well. Zach Carter was named the SEC’s defensive lineman of the week for the second time this season after last week’s three-tackle, one-sack performance that included a 35-yard touchdown on a fumble return in a 63-35 victory over Arkansas.

Trask said the Gators won’t take the Commodores lightly, even after a 56-0 home victory over them last season.

“Some people even said (Arkansas) was a trap game, but we did a great job of ignoring all the outside noise and focusing on our job and what we can do and just practicing to our full potential every single day,” Trask said. “… We’re not playing (just) to win every game. We’re playing to play to our full potential every game, which obviously, hopefully, includes winning.”

Vanderbilt Commodores Betting Preview

Vanderbilt has struggled on defense, ranking 12th in the SEC in scoring defense (35.8 points) and 11th in total defense (443 yards). The Commodores (0-6, 0-6 SEC) have allowed 7 yards per play, which ranks 12th in the league, and they are last in the SEC in turnover margin at minus-7. 

But the Commodores have at least found a bright spot with a young offense that is guided by first-year coordinator Todd Fitch. The Commodores exceeded 400 yards total offense in each of the last three games.  

A pair of true freshman quarterbacks have been a reason for excitement. 

Ken Seals has hit 66.8 percent of his passes for 1,291 yards and eight touchdowns. There have also been eight interceptions, but Seals showed growth against Kentucky by not turning over the ball.

Backup quarterback Mike Wright also accounted for a rushing and passing scores when inserted in a pair of goal-to-go situations last week.  

There might be opportunity to move the ball against the Gators, who give up 411.3 yards and 30 points per game.

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason secured his seventh losing season at Vanderbilt in as many tries with a 38-35 loss at Kentucky last week. Speculation has only grown as to whether Mason will return to for an eighth year.

“I haven’t had any conversations with anybody,” Mason said when asked if he has spoken with school officials about his future.

Gators at Commodores Betting Pick

The Gators have won the last six meetings with the Commodores with Vandy’s last win coming by a 34-17 score in 2013 in Gainesville. The Gators raced to a 56-0 romp over the Commodores last year with Trask passing for 363 yards and three touchdowns. The Gators had 560 yards of total offense to 128 for the Commodores.

Gators at Commodores Betting Pick:

Gators 52, Commodores 20

Gators at Commodores Best Bet

The Gators have scored at least 35 points in eight consecutive games, which is tied for the longest streak in school history (2008 and 1996). Vandy has given up at least 38 points in four of its six games, the last a 38-35 loss at Kentucky last week.

Gators at Commodores Best Bet: OVER 68.5

–Field Level Media