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The Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament tips off today and will be played at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Interestingly, no team seeded lower than third has won the conference tournament since the SEC switched to a 14-team format in 2013.
The top two teams in the league – Auburn and Tennessee – exceeding expectations this season. Indeed, the Tigers were picked to finish ninth in the conference, while the Volunteers were predicted to finish thirteenth.
I am going to cover the first round game between Mississippi and South Carolina and provide analysis for why the Gamecocks should ultimately advance to the second round.
Neither Mississippi or South Carolina have any chance of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The only path to the Tournament is for one of these two teams to run the table through the SEC tournament and capture the conference title.
Good luck with that, although a deep run by the Gamecocks would not be surprising. South Carolina is a profitable 15-5-1 ATS in its last 21 neutral site games and 6-0 ATS in its last six games overall.
In contrast, Mississippi remains in turmoil after the school parted ways with Andy Kennedy after twelve seasons on the sidelines. The Rebels are playing for a lame-duck interim coach (assistant Tony Madlock) and rumors are swirling about the potential hire of former Ohio State head coach Thad Matta.
Mississippi has lost ten of its last 11 games and twelve of its last 14 games overall. The Rebels finished the regular season with three straight losses to Tennessee (73-65), Kentucky (96-78) and Vanderbilt (82-69) and have all but quit on the tumultuous season.
The Rebels allowed 77.9 points per game to teams that would combine to average 75.1 points per game against a mediocre defense during the regular season (2.8 points per game worse than average). Mississippi was 2-11 SU and 3-10 ATS on the road this season where it yielded 82.2 points per game on 47.6% shooting from the field.
The Rebels’ mindset is best illustrated by the fact that they yielded 83.4 points on 48.1% shooting from the floor and 45.8% from three-point territory in their final five games prior to postseason play.
South Carolina is 8-1 ATS in this event against opponents coming off a SU and ATS loss and is focused on avenging its 74-69 loss to Mississippi on December 31. South Carolina’s revenge is significant in that the Rebels are a woeful 3-11 ATS in conference tournament action against foes looking to avenge an earlier-season defeat.
Let’s also note that Mississippi is a helpless 4-13 ATS following a home game, 4-15 ATS after failing to cover the point spread in its previous contests and 4-12 ATS as an underdog this season.
With Mississippi standing at just 8-17 ATS versus .501 or greater opposition this season, lay the points with the Gamecocks as one of Oskeim Sports’ NCAA Basketball Picks for Wednesday, March 8.
Oskeim’s Math Model Projection: Mississippi vs. South Carolina (-2.1)
Oskeim Sports’ NCAA Basketball Picks:
- South Carolina (-2.5) over Mississippi
- Arkansas State (+4) over Louisiana-Monroe
- Massachusetts (+6) over LaSalle