College Hoops SEC 2013

by Jim Feist of

 The SEC has a bunch of teams that play
great defense and are loaded with talent, depth and athleticism. Kentucky won
the national championship in 1998 and again last season. Florida knocked on the
door in 2000, getting to the title game against Michigan State, before winning
back to back titles in 2006-07. Here’s a look at some of college basketball’s
best teams in the SEC that hope to knock on the door again.

Florida: The
Gators have wrapped up their 15th straight 20-win season. Florida Coach Bill
Donovan likes the up-tempo game and he has another strong group. With so many
young teams in college hoops, the Gators have a veteran team. They have a
talented Big Four of senior guards Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario running the
break, and 6-10 senior Erik Murphy and 6-9 junior Patrick Young pounding the

They lead the SEC in assists and field goal shooting, both from
the field and from beyond the arc. The Gators smoked Wisconsin earlier in the
year, but lost to Kansas State (67-61) and Arizona (65-64). All of Florida’s
first 10 SEC victories were by double digits, including a 69-52 triumph over
Kentucky last week. The over is 21-6 in Florida’s last 27 Saturday games and 8-0
over against teams with winning percentages below .400. The Gators play three of
their final five games at home and are expected to do well in the SEC tourney.

Kentucky: The rebuilding Wildcats are the defending champs, but unlike
Florida they are super young, as usual, led by 6-4 freshman Archie Goodwin and
6-7 freshman Alex Poythress. A third freshman, 6-10 Nerlens Noel, is leading the
nation with an average of 4.4 blocks and the SEC with 9.5 rebounds, but suffered
a season-ending knee injury in Kentucky’s 69-52 loss at Florida last week. It
was a huge blow.

Noel’s injury means more playing time for 7-foot
freshman Willie Cauley-Stein, who mainly served as Noel’s backup. “I’ve been
coaching for 22 years and this is the first injury we’ve had of this kind during
the season, which makes it even more devastating,” coach John Calipari said. The
Wildcats are 3-11 ATS in the SEC and 9-21-1 ATS following a spread loss. If you
like to play totals, keep in mind Kentucky is 16-4-1 under in its last 21 road
games! They get a chance for revenge in the regular season finale, hosting

Alabama: The Tide is like their football counterpart,
exceptional on defense, second in the SEC behind Florida in points allowed, just
57 per game. However, they are also the gang that can’t shoot straight, one of
the weaker offensive teams averaging just 62 ppg. After a bumpy December losing
5 of 6 they’ve been playing well, holding 8 straight opponents under 58 points
(winning 6).

Junior guard Trevor Releford and sophomore guard Trevor
Lacey run the backcourt, with 6-6 soph Rodney Cooper up front. They are not a
big team, preferring to slow the pace down. They rank among the league leaders
in blocks, steals and scoring defense. Alabama is on a 21-6 run under the total
and needs every win it can get as it attempts to boost a tenuous NCAA Tournament

Mississippi: Ole Miss is torching the nets, running and gunning
averaging over 79 points per game, fifth in the nation. Junior guard Marshall
Henderson (19.5 ppg) runs the offense and leads the SEC in scoring, plus there
is fine low post play with 6-7 senior Murphy Holloway (14.5 ppg) and 6-9 senior
Reginald Buckner. In conference play, sophomore point guard Jarvis Summers has
averaged 11.1 points, four more than he did in the non-conference schedule.

But February has not been kind, getting blown out at Missouri (98-79)
and losses to Kentucky at home (87-74) and at Florida (78-64). Are they ready
for prime time with that suspect defense? The Rebels are 9-3 ATS in their last
12 home games and on a 5-0 run over the total this month.

Missouri: The
newcomer to the SEC has been impressive, 21st in the nation in scoring, third in
rebounds and tops in the SEC in free throw shooting (75%). The Tigers are the
only team in Division I with six players averaging at least 10 points this
season. Sparkplug junior guard Phil Pressey dishes out 7 assists per contest and
has plenty of weapons to feed with 6-5 sophomore Jabari Brown (15 ppg) , 6-8
senior Laurence Bowers (14.7 ppg) and 6-9 senior Alex Oriakhi (10.7 ppg, 8.7
rpg) .

Missouri outrebounded 20 of its 24 opponents this season. But
they have not been impressive on the road, and have road contests coming up at
Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Tigers are on a 1-4 ATS run on the
road. Missouri has scored 45.6 percent of its points inside the paint this
season. All that running means they are on a 21-5 run over the total, plus 15-4
over in SEC play.

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