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SEC Men’s Basketball Season Preview (2020-21)
Kentucky has been the class of the SEC ever since John Calipari stepped foot on campus. It doesn’t look like that’ll change in 2021, but don’t tell that to the rest of the conference.
Auburn hopes to continue elevating their program under the direction of Bruce Pearl, while Florida and LSU could pose as potential threats.
I’ll get to the Volunteers in a moment, but let’s begin this SEC basketball preview by peeking at the odds.
SEC Basketball Tournament Odds
The Wildcats are favored to win their conference tournament, but it’s not a total runway like some other college basketball conference odds. Tennessee is nipping at Kentucky’s heels, and LSU is coming off an inspiring 12-6 record in SEC play.
Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, college football isn’t the only sport where the Commodores are the laughing stock of the SEC. Despite bringing Jerry Stackhouse in to lead the way, Nashville’s basketball program has endured three straight seasons with 20 or more losses.
Should Kentucky Be the SEC Favorite?
Is there betting value attached to backing the Wildcats winning the SEC Tournament at +170?
Lots of it.
Rather than worry about the top-6 scorers from last year’s team who are no longer in Lexington, concentrate on the new faces that make up the top recruiting class in college basketball. And don’t forget about the 7’0” Wake Forest transfer, Olivier Sarr.
Olivier Sarr is an All-American. Book it. The guy is so good. He is going to get so many buckets late in the shot clock. He is so advanced with his back to the basket.— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) November 13, 2020
John Calipari is has gotten used to rotating NBA prospects in and out of Rupp Arena, so the upcoming season won’t be anything new. A December 1st game against 6th-ranked Kansas gives us an early look at just how promising the 2021 Wildcats will be.
I’ll touch on BJ Boston shortly, but incoming frosh like Terence Clarke and Devin Askew are sincere playmakers ready to provide a boost. Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware are interchangeable post players who will be asked to log big-time minutes.
Which SEC Team Could Surprise?
Some SEC basketball previews tout Tennessee as the best team. LSU and Florida are expected to make a run at Kentucky. Perhaps this is the first version you’ve come across with someone high on Alabama.
Do I think the Crimson Tide are going to genuinely challenge the Wildcats or the Vols for supremacy in the conference – no.
Do I think Bama is a team that could sneak into the NCAA Tournament and hang around until the second weekend – yes.
Replacing Kira Lewis will be tough, but John Petty is 6’5” senior who’s pretty darn dynamic (14.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 44.0% three-point shooter). Jaden Shackelford averaged 15 points/game as a freshman, and Yale transfer Jordan Bruner is a double-double waiting to happen.
Anyone who sleeps on Villanova transfer Jahvon Quinerly simply didn’t do his or her homework. Quinerly, the 7th-ranked point guard in the class of 2018, sat out last season after relocating. Look for the New Jersey native to put on a show for the Tide right from the get-go.
Top Players to Watch in the SEC
An SEC basketball review wouldn’t be complete without addressing the top players in the conference. With lots of names to choose from, I settled on the two guys I envision will battle it out for SEC POY.
Keyontae Johnson – Florida
Keyontae Johnson does it all for the Gators. The rising junior can play just about every position on the court and has an extremely high basketball IQ.
#Gators forward Keyontae Johnson picked as preseason SEC Player of the year by the media— Graham Hall (@GrahamHall_) November 12, 2020
After contributing 14 points and 7 rebounds per game last season (54.4% shooting), I suspect Johnson will be an 18/9 type of guy.
BJ Boston – Kentucky
No matter how many scouts you ask about BJ Boston, you can’t find anything negative going around. The kid is an absolute baller and will likely be John Calipari’s go-to player in crunch time. After sending the likes of De’Aaron Fox, Tyler Herro, and Tyrese Maxey to the NBA, this true freshman will be the next great Wildcats guard to strut his stuff in Lexington.
More College Basketball Conference Previews
Interested in more college basketball conference previews? In the mood to place some NCAAB futures bets?
If you answered “yes” to either question, this ACC basketball preview should be right in your wheelhouse.