You have now caught the Fever -- SEC Basketball Fever is upon us, and we’ve taken Patient Zero to the Scott Trade Center in St. Louis for a prime time double header.
The first game “features” the 12-seed Georgia Bulldogs vs. the 13-seed Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy is 1-10 away from the hellhole in Nashville and relies upon getting hot from the perimeter. They can score, to be sure. The problem is, you never know if it’s going to be enough to make up for a dismal defense. Alabama, of course, lost to them. The Bulldogs, unlike 14-17 VU, are playing for postseason positioning. Sitting at 16-14, with an RPI of 83, UGA has a few nice wins under its belt — including Tennessee, a season sweep of Florida, and — of course — Alabama lost to them as well. Like the Tide, UGA has dropped a ton of brutal one- and two-possession games.
Advanced stats project a 67-64 Bulldogs win. Seems like the right result but probably too narrow of a score.
Just 25 minutes after UGA-VU comes the 11-seed South Carolina Gamecocks vs. the 14-seed Ole Miss Rebels. The ‘Cocks, fresh off a Final Four appearance, find themselves at the bottom of the conference at .500 on the season. Still, with an RPI of 80, USCe may be able to play its way into the NIT with a win or two. South Carolina, like Alabama, had a terrible swoon at the end of the season, but has several good and decent wins: Florida, Kentucky, and a season sweep of Georgia among them. Ole Miss has played a much tougher schedule (No. 5 SOS) and it has shown — 12-19. Of course, one of those dozen wins was again the Crimson Tide. (South Carolina was the only team in the Bottom Four that Alabama did not lose to.). Andy Kennedy stepped down in the middle of a difficult season, and the Rebels are playing out the string at this point. The Rebs have won just four games in 2018 and are 4-13 in the the new year.
Advanced stats see USC moving on 71-64, though OM did win a previous meeting at home against USC earlier this season. That final sounds about right — Frank Martin and his young team still have something to play for.