The SEC, more known for its football prowess, has combated this notion admirably in 2021, emerging with two legitimate Final Four contenders.
Both Alabama and Arkansas appear well-positioned for deep tournament runs, and currently project as two-seeds in next weeks’ big dance, finishing in the top-10 of the AP Poll at No. 6 and 8, respectively.
Although Bama has garnered more respect by the betting market (+2000 to win the Championship and +240 to win the SEC), it’s Arkansas who’s one of the hottest teams in the country.
Winners of eight straight, the Razorbacks are a trendy pick to cut down the nets in April at +5000 and could merit action this weekend getting 3:1 to win the conference tourney.
No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Tennessee will accompany the two aforementioned teams with double-byes, while No. 5 Florida will have to play in a Second-Round matchup against the winner of Wednesday’s contest between No. 12 Vanderbilt and No. 13 Texas A&M.
Here’s how the rest of the bracket will shape out.
The Value Play
Starting with Florida, its path appears far too treacherous to consider the Gators at their current price of 6:1.
Navigating a schedule that includes Tennessee, a team they lost to on Sunday 65-54, top-seeded Alabama, and then Arkansas or LSU does not warrant the price you’re getting at most sportsbooks.
Rather, I’d have my eyes on Will Wade’s LSU Tigers at a friendlier price of 7:1. Not only will they avoid a second-round matchup altogether, but their path is a lot clearer. Both No. 11 South Carolina and No. 6 Ole Miss have been wildly inconsistent this season, and neither team really scares me in a potential quarterfinal matchup.
Then, you’ll get Arkansas, who they’ve managed to beat once already, before playing in the final.
Plus, LSU, unlike Florida or Tennessee, does something really, really well — they can outscore anyone. Averaging over 80 points a night, the Tigers boast a top 10 scoring offense led by freshmen guard Cameron Thomas (23.1 ppg).
So, if you’re looking for a deeper play, look no further than Thomas and the Tigers at +700.
Team to Look Out For: Kentucky +1500