What’s getting lost in the mix during the heart of football season and Thanksgiving week? The start of college hoops! I’ll have you covered with best bets articles throughout the season, but it’s also good to have something from the preseason as reference for early in the season to get a grasp for different teams and conferences. So I’m breaking down each of the Power-Six Conferences with some useful betting info.
The SEC seems a little overrated as a whole this season, including Kentucky. The Wildcats rank 11th in KenPom, and a talented Tennessee team (now dealing with COVID issues to begin the season) rank just behind them at 19th. Those are the only SEC teams in the top 20.
Nonetheless, Kentucky is the deserving favorite here. Per usual, the entire roster is being turned over, which usually means the team takes time to come together. I’m expecting a similar story this year, with Kentucky being a worthy fade early, but a very scary team once they put it all together.
Of course, we get a couple of McDonald’s All-Americans coming in, as you’d expect. BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke will be NBA players soon enough, but first we’ll see just how far they can take this Kentucky team. There are some crucial upperclassmen coming on via transfer, which should really stabilize Kentucky as the season progresses. Olivier Sarr is a senior coming from Wake Forrest, who put up 14 points and nine boards per game in his last season in the ACC. Davion Mintz, a guard that can score in double figures and put up well rounded numbers, is another senior from Creighton. And the Wildcats will also add sophomore Jacob Toppin, a talented transfer from Rhode Island — yes, the younger brother of Obi Toppin.
Will I bet any Kentucky futures? No, they are way too overpriced. But this is the best team in the SEC.
Without many highly ranked teams, it’s tough to say anyone is very overvalued. But there are a couple of teams worth fading. Auburn’s made a name for itself with a Final Four run and it sent some high draft picks to the NBA the last couple of years. I expect them to slow down significantly this year. Auburn’s KenPom is all the way down at 66th, not that this number means everything, but it’s telling. The Tigers won’t start anyone older than a sophomore, and have no seniors on the roster. Early fade.
This team is just awful. Nobody expects anything of Vandy, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worse than we think. Jerry Stackhouse is doing a good job getting this program in the right direction, but it’s not there yet. It ended its 26-game conference losing streak last season, which was a big victory in its own right. But this team is still in a class by itself at the bottom of the SEC.
Aaron Nesmith was a lottery pick by the Celtics, and will be a huge loss. Scotty Pippen Jr. is a name most will recognize, but not someone that’s going to be able to lead this team to wins. I’ll keep fading them in some games this year.
Something doesn’t smell right with these odds. The Gators are priced fourth in the SEC at +700, well behind LSU at +400. Yet, the Gators are +650 to reach the Final Four, compared to +900 for LSU. Going even deeper, Tennessee, who’s a top 20 team (even top 10 by some metrics), is +3500 to win it all. The Gators check in at +3000!
Florida’s 24th in KenPom, well above the rest of the SEC, and the clear third team in my mind — and I don’t doubt they could wind up on Tennessee’s level. All five starters this season should be returning players from last year’s team, and while the bench was going to be an issue, some junior transfers are set to really help out. This is a team I want to watch play first, but I’ll be backing often.
The Tide were a fast-paced team that put up a ton of points last season, but struggled defensively. This team was riddled with injuries, and with Kira Lewis leaving to become a lottery pick, I can see why the perception may be down. But this is going to be a very solid team in the SEC if it stays healthy.
Alabama is stocked with talent, and the key will be figuring out how to replace the PG minutes from Lewis. I can’t back this team to win the SEC, but it is a team I want to watch play early, and consider backing before the market catches up.
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