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SEC Tournament opening round preview for March 11th

We go over all the action in at today’s opening round of the SEC Tournament, including game times, odds, and more.

The SEC Logo on Craddock Court at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC Tournament’s second round will begin on Thursday. The first round consisted of just one game between Texas A&M and Vanderbilt on Wednesday, but the action will really pick up on Thursday. Four games are set to tip-off on day two.

We’ve got everything you need to know for today’s action from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Mississippi State: 12 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Point Spread: Kentucky -3.5
Point Total: 131

Battles between middling teams can be tough. The Wildcats and Bulldogs both won three of their last five regular-season games, but I’d give Mississippi State the edge in this one. The Bulldogs hang their hats on defense and have held opponents to 35% shooting over the last five games. The boys in blue have struggled to shoot efficiently despite all their blue-chip talent. Both teams are terrible at shooting the long ball, but Mississipi State’s rebounding should give it an edge. No SEC team has a better rebounding margin (+6) than the Bulldogs.

The pick: Mississippi State +3.5

No. 5 Florida vs. No. 12 Vanderbilt: 2 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Point Spread: Florida -8
Point Total: 145.5

Florida will get a chance to snap its two-game losing streak on Thursday, and its opportunity will come against a Vanderbilt team its already been beaten twice this year. The Commodores beat Texas A&M handily in round one thanks to some excellent scoring from Scottie Pippen Jr. and DJ Harvey, but the duo would need to step it up a notch to give Vandy a chance of winning another tournament game. The Gators’ average margin of victory against the Commodores is 14 points this year. Florida seems to have this one in the bag, on paper.

The pick:

No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Georgia: 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Point Spread: Missouri -5.5
Point Total: 154

The Bulldogs came away with a 10-point victory against the Tigers but are riding a two-game losing streak. I’m skeptical about backing Georgia because of its 21-point blowout loss to South Carolina in February. The Gamecocks have consistently been one of the worst teams in the SEC and secured their second road win of the year against the Bulldogs. Missouri is far from the ranked team it once was and is also coming off a loss, but an uncharacteristically poor night from three (18%) did the Tigers in the first time they played Georgia. I expect the tide to turn in round two.

The pick: Missouri -5.5

No. 6 Mississippi vs. No. 11 South Carolina: 12 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Point Spread: Mississippi -7.5
Point Total: 141.5

South Carolina has been beaten by 15 or more points in five of its last six games. The Gamecocks’ unexpected blowout win against George makes them look a lot less bad than they really are. Ole Miss choked after being up by 18 in the first meeting between these two teams and won by 7. I don’t think the underdog will luck out like that again. I’m not saying we should expect Devontae Shuler to surpass the season-high 31 points he scored earlier this season against South Carolina. He and his teammates should light it up when they get a second shot at one of the worst scoring defenses in the country, though.

The pick: Mississippi -7.5

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