SEC Tournament Semifinals
3:00 PM Eastern on ABC
NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Almost everyone expected an intrastate battle between Tennessee and Vanderbilt in this game, but Mississippi had other ideas. The Rebels upset the Volunteers last night in overtime, and they will take on the Commodores for a chance to play in the SEC Tournament title game. The Rebels will be a clear underdog here. Let’s take a closer look at this matchup.
Andy Kennedy’s Mississippi team was blown out of the water 102-76 by Vanderbilt on February 16. The Rebels have quietly won five straight and made their way to the SEC Tournament semifinals. This will be the team’s third game in three days. Terrance Henry is the Rebels leading scorer at 12.3 points per game. He is an aggressive player who has plenty of skills, but he also leads the team with 110 turnovers. Murphy Holloway is an extremely versatile 6’7 forward for the Rebels. Holloway averages 11.2 points and 9.1 boards per game. If this team is going to have a chance in this game, Holloway needs to have a big showing.
As a team Mississippi shoots just 31% from three-point range. Jarvis Summers leads the team in three-point shooting at 42.3%. The Rebels are awful from the free throw line, and that has hurt them badly in several close losses this year. Mississippi shoots just 60.1% from the free throw line. Defensively, the Rebels are pretty solid. Opponents shoot just 39.7% from the floor against them.
Vanderbilt is one of those teams that has tons of potential, but you never know if they’ll show up with their best effort. The Commodores have given Kentucky a tough time twice, but they also lost at home to Cleveland State and Indiana State earlier this year. This team has been upset in the first game of the NCAA Tournament two years in a row, and they certainly have much higher goals this year. John Jenkins leads the team in scoring at 19.9 points per game. He shoots 46% from three-point range, and he is the type of shooter who can carry a team when he is red hot. Jeff Taylor averages 16.8 points per game. Taylor can also shoot it from deep, but he is at his best when he is attacking the basket.
The Commodores are a much better team when Festus Ezeli is an offensive force. Ezeli has actually taken a bit of step back this year offensively, but he has the skills to put up 15 or 20 points in a game. Vanderbilt is a team that can put up the points in a hurry. They average 73.2 points per game. Defensively, the Commodores allow opponents to score 65.4 points per contest.
Vanderbilt has a far higher upside than Mississippi. If the Commodores come out being aggressive on the offensive end, they’ll be tough to stop. Look for Vanderbilt to win comfortably here.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 76 Mississippi 64
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