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College Basketball Betting Free Picks For Saturday: SEC Tournament – SportsUntapped.com
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Added March 13th, 2010 by David Glisan

College Basketball Betting Free Picks For Saturday:  SEC Tournament
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College basketball betting will be front and center on Saturday with the major conference tournaments winding down.  We’ll take a look at the SEC semifinal between Tennessee and Kentucky.  The Vols are one of two teams to have beaten Kentucky this year (South Carolina was the other) , though the Wildcats waxed them when they played at home.  They’ll go for round three at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee–which has actually just been renamed the Bridgestone Arena–in the first of two semifinal games for Saturday.


For local fans, this tournament worked out about as well as it possibly could have with both ‘local’ teams in the semifinals.  Vanderbilt will face Mississippi State in the late game, while Tennessee and Kentucky will renew their rivalry in the early game.

Unlike most of the sports handicapping information you’ll find on the Internet, my goals aren’t to sell you lousy sports picks, mythical ‘games of the year’ or the product of some ‘never lost system’.  Along with trying to give you winning information, my goal is to teach you something.  If you read these writeups every day and pay attention, like it or not, you’ll actually learn how to be a better sports handicapper.  In the first round of this tournament we talked about the situation facing the SEC relative to their NCAA tournament participation.  The play on South Carolina didn’t work out, but the SEC’s ‘Big Dance’ dilemma remains:

There’s another interesting dynamic at work in the SEC tournament–the conference doesn’t have a representative on the NCAA selection committee this year.  What this means is that a ‘bubble’ team from another conference is more likely to make the cut than a similarly credentialed team from the SEC.  That’s part of the scam that is the NCAA–you won’t see any out and out screwjobs in most years (at least not involving the major conferences) but NCAA tournament bids mean money and exposure for the conferences and to the committee members go the spoils.  There’s three teams that will definitely get a NCAA bid–Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee each of whom have 23 or more wins.  But there’s three more teams with 20 or more wins and they’re not all going to make it.  Of these teams, 20 win Florida may have a better shot at an at-large bid than 21 win Mississippi or Mississippi State for a number of reasons–not the least of which is their back to back NCAA championship wins in 2006 and 2007.   One thing is for certain, and that’s that at least one very good SEC team will be NIT bound.  Most field projections have the SEC getting only three or four teams in the field including their automatic bid for the conference champion.

This puts the SEC in a position where it will benefit the conference financially and otherwise if anyone *but* Kentucky, Tennessee or Vanderbilt wins their tournament.  Since its going to be hard for the selection committee to deny all three of the 20+ win ‘bubble teams’,  a surprise winner in the SEC is really their best case scenario and probably the only way the conference can get five teams into the field.  There’s been suggestions in the past that situations such as this have influenced the way games are officiated, with ‘underdogs’ getting preferential calls to help facilitate their victory over a team that’s already a shoo-in for an at-large bid.  More often than not, however, the coaches are aware of the scam and while they won’t go out and tank games won’t put a lot of emphasis on a conference tournament title.  A team like Kentucky has their sights on a bigger goal anyway, so there’s always the possibility of a lookahead even without the other disincentives of them winning the conference title.

This game may not be as crucial to the SEC’s plans as the semifinals.  Anyway, don’t be surprised if Mississippi State beats Vanderbilt and goes on to defeat whichever team wins this game.  On balance, my thinking is that the SEC would rather have Mississippi State play Tennessee, so we’ll take the Vols plus the points here.  At the very worst, it’s something of a contrarian position since everyone in the world will be on the ‘public’ side with Kentucky.


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