The Southeastern Conference might seem to offer NCAA fans betting on basketball little in the way of novelty. However, closer inspection reveals that, sometimes, the more things remain the same, the more they change.
1.The Kentucky Wildcats remain basketball betting favorite to win the national championship. This has been the order of things since John Calipari became the new head coach in 2009. Since then, Kentucky has four regular seasons, four tournament titles and one national championship. That’s all in good theory, though, which doesn’t always translate well to practice. Take last season, for instance. The Wildcats had to share the regular season title with the Texas A&M, and while they did beat the Aggies to win the SEC tournament and received the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, they were eliminated in the second round by Indiana. To compensate for what must have been in Calipari’s eyes a disappointing season, Kentucky recruited another star-studded class.
2.The Georgia Bulldogs’ offense should take them farther this season. Georgia had 20 wins for the third straight season, but when confronted by elite teams, the Bulldogs brought the knife to the proverbial gunfight. Georgia ranked 13th in the conference in TO percentage and last in effective field-goal percentage. This upcoming season, however, four-star recruits shooting guards Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump will join guard J.J. Frazier (16.9 ppg) and forward Yante Maten (16.3 ppg).
3.Florida Gators’ Michael White will hope to avoid sophomore slump. White’s first year as Billy Donovan’s successor was fair to middling; Florida finished 21-15 (9-9 in SEC play), tied for eighth place in the conference. Moreover, the Gators invited to the National Invitation Tournament, where they made it to the quarterfinals. Expectations are running high this season, though, and White hopes graduate transfer Canyon Barry will help the team make it over the hump of mediocrity, in particular behind the three-point line. Barry is the fifth son of NBA free-throwing legend Rick Barry – one can tell he was running out of names by the time Canyon was born – and averaged 19 points per game for the College of Charleston Cougars last season before a shoulder injury ended his season in the CAA opener.
4.The Mississippi Rebels must push their backcourt to the front. The Ole Miss Rebels have been shy of grabbing the brass ring during most of head coach Andy Kennedy’s tenure. The additions of Cullen Neal from New Mexico, DeAndre Burnett from Miami could potentially give the Rebels one of the stronger backcourts in the SEC, and in turn take them to the next level and draw the attention of fans betting on basketball.
5.Who will be the SEC dark horse? This should interest fans of betting on basketball, especially those who like to back underdogs. The aforementioned Aggies should remain strong offensively, and sophomore Tyler Davis is a star in the making. The Vanderbilt Commodores have a new head coach and lost point guard Wade Baldwin and forward Damian Jones to the NBA draft, but Matthew Fisher-Davis and Luke Kornet could step up their game. And Mississippi has a brand new batch of freshmen who might help the Bulldogs fix their free-throw issues.