A breakdown of the latest Hog victory with highlights from WarMachine2013!
Arkansas 86, Missouri 81
0:09- This may seem like a simple basket, but scoring on the first possession is key for Arkansas who has struggled out of the gates
0:55- This is another example of poor perimeter defense from the Razorbacks
1:29- Devo gets caught rotating late and the Hogs give up another open 3 point shot
1:36- Great play by a Jalen Tate and Jaylin Williams to get the back door bucket
2:20- Jaylin Williams continues to impress with a smooth stroke beyond the arc, the freshman forward is continuing to progress and impress
3:05– J.D. Notae attacks the rim and creates his own shot, something that has been lacking from this Arkansas offense
3:36- Justin Smith knocks down the mid range shot, if he can add this to his game our offense would become much more threatening
3:53- One of the better drive and dish plays we have seen from Devo Davis, expect more of this as his confidence increases
4:45- If Vanover continues to shoot the long ball well there is not much the opposition can do to stop the 7’3 forward
5:48- Vanover and Moody work to get a good look from beyond the arc, Vanover’s ability to pass could change this Hog offense
6:25- Elite athleticism from Justin Smith paired with a nice pass from Desi Sill creates some momentum for the Razorbacks
6:34-6:50- Hogs give up a quick 6-0 run with poor perimeter defense, Musselman needs to find a way to improve defensive rotation down the stretch
6:57- Justin Smith, an 18% 3-point shooter, rattles on in from deep, again, if he is able to add this to his game the Razorbacks become much more of a threat with the ball
7:20- Connor Vanover actually works the post and earns a tough bucket
8:12- Not saying we should have called a timeout, but we need to get a better look than this
8:35- We have seen this set before but it will never get old, great assist by Jalen Tate and another great dunk for Justin Smith
8:57- Moses may have gotten away with an extra step but a great assist to get the easy bucket for the cutting Devo Davis
9:04- Jalen Tate. This was an all-star play that resulted in one of the more questionable calls I have ever seen, Desi Sills clearly gets the rebound but they rule it to be Missouri’s basketball (reminiscent of Auburn football game)
9:12- Another awesome play from Jalen Tate finished off by quick hands from Moses Moody to eventually secure a Razorback victory
Overall Take: This was a huge win for the Razorbacks on the road. Doesn’t matter if Missouri is missing a player. The Hogs overcame poor officiating and a road crowd to knock off 10th ranked Missouri. Arkansas will need to shore up their perimeter defense but some of that was intentional design of Eric Musselman to challenge a poor 3-point shooting team. The offense was very impressive in the first half and seems to be gaining confidence with each game. The Hogs have finally proved that they are a real threat and will look to continue that into the Florida game tonight.
In a true showdown of the “eye test” vs metrics, the unranked Razorbacks travel to Columbia to take on the 10th ranked Missouri Tigers. Despite the large gap in ranking and home court advantage, the metrics point to a real showdown on Saturday afternoon. Here are some important facts to consider in preparation for a big matchup in the SEC.
What the metrics say about Arkansas at Missouri:
Missouri: 38th in Ken Pom Rankings
Arkansas: 25th in Ken Pom Rankings
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Jeremiah Tilmon: The 6’10 senior had a career day in the earlier matchup between the Hogs and Tigers. He went for 25 points and 11 rebounds in a dominant performance. That being said, the Razorbacks were missing a key piece in Justin Smith last time these teams met. Look for Tilmon to remain impactful but not to the same extent as their previous meeting. You will likely see the Tilmon setting picks on a regular basis, working with Xavier Pinson at the top of the key.
Xavier Pinson: Another player who imposed their will against the Hogs earlier this season. The athletic guard went for 23 points in the game in Fayetteville. He will need to step up in this matchup as the Hogs should be better protected in the paint. His ability to work in the pick and roll and share the ball will be key to the result of this matchup.
Moses Moody: The freshman star will need to step up on the road if the Hogs want to compete in this one. The young guard is averaging over 16 points per game. Look for Moody to work the midrange and perimeter to stretch the Missouri defense. If Moody is able to become the center piece of this offense the Razorbacks could become a very dangerous team.
Justin Smith: The Razorbacks were missing the Indiana transfer in a bad way in their last meeting with Missouri. Arkansas will need his physicality and defense to slow down Jeremiah Tilmon. Smith is not 100% healthy but seems to be getting healthier each game. If the Hogs were to win on the road it would be hard to pinpoint a more significant difference from the last game than Justin Smith.
This should be a great game in Columbia. The Tigers will look to get back on track after a 21 point loss to Ole Miss in their last game. The Razorbacks will look to add an elusive marquee win to their resume. The Tigers are favored by half a point in Vegas, essentially making this one a toss-up. Ken Pom has Missouri winning 76-75 while Haslametrics also has it as a coin flip with a prediction of Missouri 76.67, Arkansas 76.58. Expect Musselman to have a few answers to the Missouri pick and roll game but it will still be hard for the Razorbacks to overcome the 10th ranked team in the country.
I expect this to be one of the most competitive games of the year. If the Hogs lose it will be damaging from a metrics standpoint, but nothing too detrimental. In a way the Hogs have a ton to gain and not a much to lose in this matchup. A road victory over a top 10 team is exactly what the Razorbacks need on their resume but is much easier said than done. Look for Eric Musselman to utilize some half-court traps to disrupt the pick and roll game. If Missouri executes from the perimeter they will be heavily favored to come out with a win. The Razorbacks need to avoid a slow start and play aggressive in transition. Again, I could see this going either way but it just feels like the Hogs are ready to get over the hump. In true battle of metrics vs the eye test I see the final outcome being:
Excited for the day that the I can remove the “and Hog ranking”, but until then here are my power rankings and an update on the Razorbacks. Also, today is that day.
Some resources I use to put these rankings together:
1. Baylor (–)
Baylor continues to impose their dominance as they cruise through their Big 12 schedule. The Bears hold the third highest AdjO as well as the third highest AdjD. They have won 15 of their 17 matchups by double digits.
Gonzaga and Baylor are interchangeable at the top spot in the country. The Bulldogs are 2nd in AdjO and 5th in AdjD. The Zags are 10-0 in conference with an average winning margin of over 23 points. Look to see Gonzaga and Baylor matchup in the National Championship.
While only playing 14 games the Wolverines have racked up an impressive resume. Michigan is 8-1 in the first two Quadrants with their sole loss coming on the road to Minnesota who they also beat by double digits earlier in the season.
The Illini are on a four game winning streak (all four Quad 1) in the toughest conference in America. Despite having five losses they have ranked very well in the metrics. Coming in at 8th offensively and 12th defensively. Their blend of talent across the floor make them a threat against anyone they face.
The Buckeyes are 8-1 over their last 9 games. They have an elite offense but struggle to defend, coming in at 64th in AdjD. Chris Holtmann has his team playing some of their best basketball down the stretch as they have strung together a handful of massive wins.
The Hawkeyes possess the best AdjO in the country but have issues on the defensive end. They have returned talented guard, C.J. Fredrick to their lineup and should finish strong if they remain healthy. With all of their weapons on offense they are good enough to beat anyone they face.
The Wildcats, led by future Hall of Famer Jay Wright, are 13-2 and look the part for another NCAA Tournament run. Their 5th ranked offense runs at a slow pace as they wear down their opponents. If they can shore up on the defensive end the Wildcats could become dangerous in March.
Apart from a brutal road loss to Missouri, the Tide have been dominant in conference play. Alabama pushes a quick tempo while their defense forces turnovers and ranks 1st in the country. This is the best team in the SEC by quite a margin and have real Giant Killer potential when they play in the Big Dance.
After a mysterious loss to a bad ECU team the Cougars are back to dominating teams on both sides of the ball with their physicality. They rank 1st in offensive rebound percentage. The Cougars will not be intimidated by anyone and should be a real threat in tournament play.
The Cavaliers are about as balanced as a team can be. In true Tony Bennett style, Virginia plays at the slowest tempo in country. This can frustrate teams who are used to playing at a faster pace. The Cavaliers have improved on the offensive end and look to make another deep run this season.
Fact: They currently hold the largest gap between Avg. Metric Ranking and AP Ranking.
The Tigers are currently number 10 in the AP Poll. This is a testament to the fact that AP voters are not paying attention to advanced metrics. Missouri’s current rankings in a few of the most credited metric systems.
Ken Pom: 40, Sagarin: 40, Massey: 25, NET: 34
I make these rankings mainly based on metrics with a little bit of the eye test if I feel particularly strong about a teams ability. This is the most subjective way I can provide insight into where I think teams rank on a given week. Using this framework Missouri would have been the worst team in the top 25 by a substantial amount had I included them. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a smile on my face when I added them to the “Dropped From Rankings” section.
Ken Pom: 24, Sagarin: 23, Massey: 26 NET: 26
The Hogs did what they hadn’t done all season. Win a game they weren’t favored to win at the time of tip-off. The Razorback’s took Kentucky’s best shot and stood their ground. From a metrics standpoint the Hogs are a top 25 squad, and they have looked the part over the last few weeks. To this point Arkansas hasn’t shown the ability to beat any great teams, but will have an opportunity to prove themselves with a tough schedule down the stretch.
A look into which teams have hopes of making the Big Dance as they enter the back stretch of regular season play.
*Seeding is provided from bracketmatrix.com where they have compiled rankings from over 30 leading bracketoligists based on past accuracy*
Alabama Crimson Tide: 16-5 (11-1)
Best Seed: 2
Worst Seed: 4
The Tide finally dropped a conference game at Missouri this past weekend. Nate Oats team came out sloppy and undetermined. A late 21-2 run wasn’t enough to complete the comeback on the road. That being said they still hold the best defense in the country and a respectable offensive attack. The Tide have about as easy of a schedule possible remaining, apart from a road matchup with the Razorbacks.
My Projection: 2 – The Crimson Tide have looked a little sloppy over the last couple of games. They are still are playing at a much higher level than the majority of the league right now, and with an easy back slate they should finish at least 5-1 to complete a 16-2 conference record. This would leave the Tide as a strong 2 seed going into the Big Dance.
As the pair of Tennessee freshman look more like their 5 star ratings, the Volunteers are looking increasingly dangerous each game. Tennessee currently holds the 2nd best defensive efficiency in the country and plays at a slow pace. This style of play breaks teams down over the course of the game and has brought them to a 14-4 record.
My Projection: 3 – The Volunteers also have five relatively easy games left apart from a road game with LSU. If they can pick up four of these they will be primed for a 3 seed come selection Sunday. This team looks very solid with a floor but probably lacks Giant Killer capabilities past the Sweet 16.
Missouri picked up a huge resume booster with a win over Alabama at home. They proceeded to lose to Ole Miss by a shocking 21 points. The Tigers have an impressive resume but their metrics fall far behind their AP Rank. The Tigers rank 39th in AdjO and 49th AdjD. Look for the metrics to catch up with them down the stretch.
My Projection: 4 – I have to side with the metrics on this one. The Tigers are well rounded but they don’t do anything particularly well. Look for them to finish 4-2 in conference play and come into March Madness as a 4 seed. Missouri is talented enough to make a run but I would bet against it myself.
The Gators are hard to get a grasp on this season. With big wins over West Virginia, Tennessee, and LSU they looked the part for a moment there. They have since dropped an ugly home loss to South Carolina and have been on COVID pause. Their offense ranks 20th in AjdO while their defense has struggled coming in at 50th in the nation.
My Projection: 8 – The Gators have three big matchups down the stretch that will shape their tournament resume (@Arkansas, @Kentucky, and Missouri). I have them finishing at 13-8 and grabbing a 9 seed in March Madness. Once there they have shown ability to hang with good teams but would likely face a 1 seed in the second round. Their seeding should dictate their ceiling in March.
Floor: Round of 64
Ceiling: Sweet 16
My Guess: Round of 32
Key Wins: LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee, @West Virginia Key Losses: @Florida State, @Alabama, Kentucky, @Mississippi State, South Carolina
Arkansas Razorbacks: 15-5 (7-4)
Best Seed: 7
Worst Seed: 12
The Razorbacks are starting to put it all together down the stretch and have a healthy squad at the moment. They have one of the hardest back halves of the schedule in the league with games against at Missouri, Florida, Alabama, LSU, and at South Carolina to wrap up the regular season. This stretch should be a good indicator of what the Hogs are capable of going into March.
My Projection: 8 – A well rounded Arkansas team coming off a nice win in Lexington has every reason to feel confident right now. This confidence will be tested and potentially broken near the end of the regular season. If the Hogs manage to win four of their last six they could start pushing for the important 7 seed in March. I have them finishing 3-3 and coming in as an 8/9 for the Big Dance. This is a good team but if they matchup with a 1 seed in the second round I wouldn’t bet on any miracles.
Floor: Round of 64
Ceiling: Sweet 16
My Guess: Round of 32
Key Wins: @Auburn, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, @Kentucky Key Losses: Missouri, @Tennessee, @LSU, @Alabama, @Oklahoma State
LSU Tigers 12-6 (7-4)
Best Seed: 8
Worst Seed: OUT
The Tigers should be a lock with some serious talent building up their roster. Will Wade seems to be doing his best to slow this squad down as they have fallen in a lot of areas metrically. The Tigers are currently a true bubble team but they should be able to squeeze into the tournament. They have a powerful offense (6th in the country) but rank 148th in AdjD. If they can shore things up on the defensive end they become a real threat down the stretch.
My Projection: 10 – The Tigers have the talent of a 3-5 seed but have struggled to prove that this season. If they make the tournament I expect them to be dangerous but they need to get to that point first. If they come in as a 8/9 they would have the potential to knock off a 1 seed but it would still be very unlikely. LSU had only one “bad” loss on the season, at Saint Louis, but that was also the second game of the year. The Tigers will be interesting to watch down the stretch.
Floor: Round of 64
Ceiling: Elite 8
My Guess: Sweet 16
Key Wins: Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina Key Losses: @Saint Louis, @Florida, Alabama, @Kentucky, Texas Tech, @Alabama
Kentucky: Again, this team is too talented to not be a threat in the SEC tournament. If they hit their stride they could very easily make the Conference Championship game in early March. This is a long shot but I am not counting the Wildcats out quite yet.
Ole Miss: The Rebels are hitting their stride right now with three big wins in a row. Their last win coming with a 21 point beatdown of the Missouri Tigers. They have shown they can hang with anyone in this league and could make a push in the conference tournament.
A breakdown of the latest Hog victory with highlights from WarMachine2013!
Arkansas 81, Kentucky 80
1:19 – Vanover started off hot in this one and established an inside presence, over the last couple of games we have seen Vanover spend more time under the rim
1:31 – This really needs to be discussed, the Hogs were caught making strange traps inside of the arc that led to a handful of open threes and jump shots
1:47 – Moses runs the baseline and rubs off the shoulder of Justin Smith for a nice corner three
2:29-2:41 – This is the kind of scoring we have been missing, J.D. Notae takes the defender off the dribble to create his own three point shot two possessions in a row
3:17 – Vance Jackson continues to impress in limited minutes, it will be interesting to see if his minutes improve as he continues to be efficient on the offensive end
4:05 – Devo’s length continues to allow him to be efficient at the rim, look for his scoring to increase down the stretch of the season as his confidence does the same
5:28 – Devo’s effort serves as momentum changer for the Hogs, he sneaks back into the play to cutoff the outlet pass finishes with an impressive dish to Justin Smith
5:40-5:53 – Moses Moody strips it from fellow freshman B.J. Boston and the Hogs push the tempo, a great example of the Razorbacks aggressiveness in transition
6:00 – Moses Moody with another crazy block and the hogs push it quickly down the floor, either a smart or out of control pass (depending on who you ask) leads to another transition layup
7:18 – Another example of poor perimeter defense from the Hogs, J.D. Notae late to the spot and gives up an open three
8:01 – Jalyin Williams contests Olivier Sarr’s corner three but he makes it anyways, this was a moment that just felt like it wasn’t going to be the Hog’s night
8:15 – J.D. Notae and Jaylin Williams get cooked on a pick and roll, Arkansas will need to shore this up against teams that shoot the ball better
8:45 – Olivier Sarr knocks down another three from the top of the key to bring the Wildcats within 3
9:00-9:08 – The Wildcats make a pair of contested threes to take the lead with 12 seconds left
9:12 – Musselman demonstrates his confidence in Devo Davis as he let the freshman guard attack instead of calling a timeout and setting up a play, this speaks to his confidence in Devo Davis but could also be a result of the Razorback’s struggles inbounding the basketball
9:17 – Jalen Tate, at 6’6, grabs a rebound in the middle of an handful of taller Wildcats, effort plays like this are often the difference between a win and a loss in College Hoops
9:25 – Read below:
9:45 – Devo Davis with one of the most impressive plays of the season as he darts across the court to seal the game with a steal
Overall Take: The Hogs got Kentucky’s best game of the year and still came out with a big win. Chances are, with Kentucky’s improvement, that this matchup will count as a win for the Hogs Quad 1 record. Key play from Jalen Tate, Connor Vanover, Moses Moody, J.D. Notae, and Devo Davis illustrated the Razorback’s improved depth this season. This is arguably the Hogs best win of the season and great momentum going into a pair of key matchups against Missouri and Florida. If the Hogs can win one of the next two games they will be in prime position to make the Big Dance.
KenPom Breakdown: The Hogs moved up one spot in the KenPom rankings but this win should help anchor the Razorbacks in the top 30 barring back to back blowout losses.
They may have been 5-12. We may have opened as favorites. We may have had a 12 point lead with six minutes left. But damn, has a Razorback basketball win felt this sweet in a long time? The below chart (predicting win probability throughout the game per KenPom) is pretty indicative of how every Razorback fan probably felt watching this one.
Kentucky was led by freshman B.J. Boston who put up 17 points on 4/5 from behind the arc (coming into the game as a 20% three point shooter on the season). Olivier Sarr, the 7 foot center, also rattled in 3 shots from deep shooting 3/5 on the night. It felt like that kind of night where the hogs get their opponents best game of the season. In reality, they probably did. This was a Kentucky team playing with confidence and shooting at 53% from the three point line. As a lifelong Razorback fan I just knew this game wasn’t going to end well. We were slowly unraveling near the end of the second half in a manner too familiar to an Arkansas fan. An in-and-out free throw with 22 seconds left gave Kentucky a chance down two points. Instead of going for the tie they shot the three, and what do you know, they nailed it. The hogs pushed the ball quickly down the floor (Musselman refused to call a timeout, but that discussion is for another time) and missed a contested runner. With 4 seconds left Jalen Tate, a guard, came down with an offensive rebound surrounded by a group of taller Wildcats. He went back up and was fouled. The Hogs down one point sent the 63% free throw shooter to the line. We have all seen this. We all knew what was going to happen. We all dreaded watching the two shots from the charity stripe. But someone must have forgotten to teach Jalen Tate the mantra, “Hogs gon’ Hog” when he transferred from Northern Kentucky. He buried back to back free throws. Devo Davis sealed the game with his best Jalen Catalon impression, hawking down a cross court pass to steal the ball. The Hogs beat Kentucky 81-80 for the first time since 2014.
Offensively, the Hogs scoring was split relatively evenly between Jalen Tate (15), Moses Moody (14), Connor Vanover (12), and J.D. Notae (11). The steal from Devo Davis was impressive enough. To make a good story great, it has since been revealed that he told his teammates he was going to get the steal before the free throw went up. This game screamed Arkansas in the worst way at times, but finished in glorious fashion.
Check back tomorrow for some commentary on the film (provided by WarMachine2013). For now just enjoy the feeling, we have earned this one.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble to be an Arkansas Razorback fan.
So I guess Dusty Hannahs might be worth more than $1…. Got it.
If you are here now you probably understand how all of this works. On the off chance that you missed it, I shared a graphic with money values distributed across 30 former Razorbacks from the years 2010-2021. I also shared a graphic with six Arkansas coaches with money values as well.
You get $20 to build your Razorback Dream Team.
You pick 5 players and 1 coach.
A quick explanation on the Dusty Hannahs/Anton Beard situation: the columns were originally organized by position and Dusty played in more of a SG role during his time with the Razorbacks. This is why you see Ky Madden, Jalen Tate, and Anton Beard (that was a whole different issue) valued higher than Dusty Hannahs. At the end of the day this brought to light the lack of true PG’s that have played for Arkansas over the last decade. In retrospect I wish I would have gone back one more year to add Courtney Fortson to the list, but it really ended up making for good fun for everyone.
I have collected the data from the first 35 responses on Twitter and there are a few interesting takeaways to look at.
Players Receiving the Most Votes (% of fan rosters made)
Dusty Hannahs: 26 (74.2%)
Daniel Gafford: 22 (62.8%)
Moses Moody: 17 (48.5%)
Bobby Portis: 16 (45.7%)
Mason Jones: 14 (40.0%)
You can see that fans are attracted to players who score the ball at a high clip. Players that focused on the defensive end (Jalen Tate, Adrio Bailey, Moses Kingsley, etc.) fared far worse than offensive specialist. This is not to discredit the defensive ability of the above 5 players (most of which were excellent defenders) but it was undeniable that players who were known for defense alone did not receive votes equivalent to their contributions to the Razorbacks.
In terms of proportionate value (found by multiplying player votes by their assigned dollar values) certain players stood out.
Players Receiving the Most Money
Daniel Gafford: $88
Bobby Portis: $80
Mason Jones: $70
Moses Moody: $51
Daryl Macon: $35
Obviously some players were limited by their original assigned dollar value (Dusty Hannahs). With that being said it was Daniel Gafford, valued at $4, who brought in the most money. That could be due in part to recency bias, but Daniel Gafford is undeniably one of the best players to play for the Razorbacks in the 2000’s.
Arkansas fans should be happy to see a display of faith in Eric Musselman from the fanbase. The current Head Hog received 17 more votes than his predecessor Mike Anderson who was valued at the same price. Some opted for the discounted coaches at $1 with six teams selecting John Pelphrey and one team choosing Stan Heath to lead their squad. The majority of fans opted to pay the $6 to ride the Muss Bus (58% of all teams) with many “In Muss We Trust” tag lines.
There were a few lineups that Twitter users seemed to like the most:
@Pinto479: Musselman – Manny Watkins, Dusty Hannahs, Moses Moody, Daniel Gafford, Bobby Portis
@DJB_Lowe: Musselman – B.J. Young, Dusty Hannahs, Jimmy Whitt, Daniel Gafford, Bobby Portis
@JoshuaRushing: Pelphrey – Daryl Macon, Rotnei Clarke, Dusty Hannahs, Daniel Gafford, Bobby Portis
And the most formidable squad of them all:
@_TimMcGuire: 20 Trey Thompsons
I appreciate all the feedback from everyone and hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. This interactive content (apart from being good for my website) is what makes being a Razorback fan great.
Power rankings based off KenPom, Sagarin, NET, and the good ol’ fashioned eye test. I also share some insights into the lates bracketology outlooks for relevant teams.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide 15-5 (10-1)
KenPom: 7, Sagarin: 11, NET: 8
The Tide nearly pulled off an insane comeback but fell just short this past Saturday in Columbia. A lack of energy and pace in the first 35 minutes of the game ended up costing Alabama their perfect record in conference. A controversial no-call as time winded down sealed the home victory for Missouri. That being said, they still look the part to make a deep run this year.
2. Tennessee Volunteers 13-4 (6-4)
KenPom: 12, Sagarin: 10, NET: 10
Tennessee completed a comeback victory over Kentucky in a fast paced game on Saturday night. The Volunteers struggled early but were led to a come from behind win by the play of their two 5 star freshman. They still perform well metrically with the top ranked defensive efficiency in the country. Look for Rick Barnes squad to be a 3 or 4 seed in the Big Dance.
3. Missouri Tigers 13-3 (6-3)
KenPom: 29, Sagarin: 32, NET: 24
The Tigers added a signature win over Alabama this weekend. At times they appeared dominant but also had perhaps the worst five minutes of league play this season. I cannot decide if that is cause for concern or impressive that they still won after giving up a 21-2 run near the end of the matchup. Probably a little of both. Regardless, the Tigers continue to exceed my expectations. Missouri currently holds the largest gap between AP ranking and KenPom ranking in the country.
4. Florida Gators 10-5 (6-4)
KenPom: 28, Sagarin: 29, NET: 31
The Gators have shown flashes of being a real threat at times but exposed their weaknesses as well. After a signature road victory against West Virginia they dropped a brutal home game to a struggling South Carolina team. I see Florida as a team with high upside but is liable to lose to just about anyone. They will need to execute down the stretch as they aren’t quite a lock for March Madness just yet.
5. Arkansas Razorbacks 14-5 (6-4)
KenPom: 26, Sagarin: 23, NET: 29
The Razorbacks boast an impressive record but lack any signature wins. A road game against Kentucky could provide the Hogs with another Quad 1 win depending how the Wildcats finish the season. The Hogs have a tough stretch of games ahead of them but can make the tournament if they simply win the games they are expected to. The Hogs are still missing a scorer that can create space for themselves but Moses Moody and Devo Davis continue to improve.
6. LSU Tigers 11-6 (6-4)
KenPom: 43, Sagarin: 40, NET: 42
Will Wade. Doing the least with the most and cheating all along the way. The American Gangster’s team is struggling at the moment and need to turn things around fast if they want to play in March. The good news for the Tigers is they have more than enough talent to do so. If they can put together 4 wins in their last 6 (against 4 weak opponents) they will be living life on the bubble.
7. Kentucky Wildcats 5-12 (4-6)
KenPom: 56, Sagarin: 55, NET: 80
What a strange year. The uber-talented Wildcats look like they are right on the cusp of finally turning the corner. With their lone hope for a tournament appearance coming in the SEC tournament the upcoming weeks will be about building confidence in this young team. Do not be surprised to see Kentucky in the SEC championship game at the end of the Conference tournament.
8. Ole Miss 10-8 (5-6)
KenPom: 66, Sagarin: 62, NET: 65
Ole Miss finds themselves on the outside looking in as March approaches. Barring a 6-2 finish in conference play (including their current two game win streak) the Rebels will not receive too much attention in regard to the Big Dance. They continue to struggle on the offensive end of the floor but have some easier matchups to finish league play.
9. Auburn Tigers 10-10 (4-7)
KenPom: 59, Sagarin: 57, NET: 66
Auburn is another young team with plenty of talent that is struggling this season. The Tigers high powered offense wasn’t enough this weekend as they dropped another league game to Ole Miss. This team could be a threat in the SEC tournament but likely doesn’t have quite enough ability to make serious noise down the stretch.
10. Mississippi State Bulldogs 11-9 (5-6)
KenPom: 65, Sagarin: 68, NET: 73
The Bulldogs have struggled in conference play and lack many dangerous weapons. They hold the 39th ranked defense but when paired with their 82nd ranked offense there is much left to be desired.
11. Georgia Bulldogs 12-6 (5-6)
KenPom: 90, Sagarin: 83, NET: 100
The Bulldogs don’t have a horrible record but they perform horrible in most major metrics. There isn’t much to be excited about with this squad and the next few weeks could be hard to watch with a tough stretch on the schedule.
12. South Carolina Gamecocks 5-7 (3-5)
KenPom: 84, Sagarin: 11, NET: 110
Road win at Florida. Home loss to Mississippi State. That should tell you what you need to know about Frank Martin’s Gamecocks this season. At the end of the day they do not pose a formidable threat to most opponents with a lackluster offense and defense.
13. Texas A&M Aggies 8-7 (2-6)
KenPom: 124, Sagarin: 112, NET: 135
Buzz Williams team has struggled this season with the worst offensive efficiency in the conference. The Aggies are lucky to be bailed out by a bad Vanderbilt team to avoid holding the worst record in the conference.
14. Vanderbilt Commodores 5-9 (1-7)
KenPom: 130, Sagarin: 131, NET: 146
This is where they belong. This is around where they will be for a for a few years unless they make some drastic changes. The days of Vanderbilt being a basketball school have come to an end, but hey, at least they can look forward to baseball.
Heading into the weekend the SEC now has five matchups after two games were postponed. The weekend slate will be highlighted by a 11:00 matchup between Alabama and Missouri.
Here are my picks for this weekend:
Alabama @ Missouri
If the Tide can improve to 11-0 they will all but secure the SEC regular season title. This will no easy task on the road against a Missouri team sitting in second place in the league. Jeremiah Tilmon will play a key role in this matchup and Alabama should struggle to contain the Tigers big man. That being said there is no way I am betting against Nate Oats and Alabama. Expect both teams to score the ball at a decent rate but the Tides defense to outlast Missouri down the stretch.
My Prediction:Alabama 76 Missouri 71
Betting Play:Alabama -2.5
Mississippi State @ South Carolina
In a less significant game the Bulldogs travel to South Carolina for a 2:30 meeting. Neither team is impressive statistically coming in at 71st and 75th in the latest KenPom rankings. The Gamecocks are coming off a huge road victory over Florida that really shocked the SEC. The Bulldogs on the other hand lost by double digits in an ugly road game in Fayetteville. Expect a low scoring affair where the Gamecocks edge out Mississippi State at home.
My Prediction:South Carolina 68 Mississippi State 65
Betting Play:South Carolina ML (-132)
Ole Miss @ Auburn
These two middle of the pack squads meet at 3:00 on ESPN 2. This isn’t the most exciting matchup of the weekend but still could make for a good game. Sharife Cooper will need another solid performance to lead the Tigers over an average Ole Miss team. Expect the game to run through the star point guard. If he goes for 20 or more I see this being an easy win for the Tigers.
My Prediction:Auburn 77 Ole Miss 70
Betting Play:Over 139.5
Vanderbilt @ Georgia
It’s hard to even think of something to write for this matchup. Uninspiring teams with uninspired coaching. It is hard to pick the Bulldogs this year but Vanderbilt is just that bad. That’s all there is to really say about this bottom of the barrel game.
My Prediction:Georgia 80 Vanderbilt 71
Betting Play: Georgia -5.5
Tennessee @ Kentucky
Capping off the night for the SEC will be the Volunteers and the Wildcats. Easily the second best game of the day in the conference and should be a competitive matchup. I am still waiting to see Kentucky be the Kentucky we have come to know. Barring a sudden click in chemistry for the Wildcats we should see them struggle to score against Tennessee’s top rated defense. Expect the Volunteers to take care of business and cover the spread.