Hot Picks for the SEC Quadruple-Header on Tuesday – NCAAM January 26

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Five of the top six teams in the Southeastern Conference will be in action on Tuesday night. The SEC has seven teams within a game of second place in the conference, making Tuesday’s games vastly important in how the conference ends up shaking out. Everyone else is currently chasing No. 9 Alabama, who stands at 8-0 in the SEC. The four games also present plenty of betting value.

7:00 p.m. ET – Kentucky at No.9 Alabama (-6½) O/U: 147

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Kentucky +6½ (-103) +250 O 147 (-130)
Alabama -6½ (-117) -300 U 147 (+110)

The 5-9 Wildcats travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the 13-3 Crimson Tide Tuesday night. Kentucky snapped its three-game losing streak on Saturday, beating LSU 82-69. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide remained perfect in conference play with an 81-73 victory over Mississippi State. Much has changed since the previous meeting on Jan. 12 when Alabama came into Rupp Arena as 3.5-point underdogs in a battle of then-SEC unbeatens and beat the Wildcats outright 85-65. Kentucky is entering a brutal four-game stretch against ranked opponents. The Wildcats likely must win at least three of to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive and that challenging gauntlet starts at Alabama.

Kentucky is led by Brandon Boston Jr., who averages 12.4 points per game and surely wants to redeem himself for his five-point outing the last time these two teams got together. Alabama is led by John Petty Jr., who averages 14.1 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range. Petty had 23 points two weeks ago against the Wildcats and made four 3-pointers. Alabama has the glaring depth advantage, with four players averaging more points per game than Kentucky’s leading scorer.

Kentucky and Alabama have been heading in different directions since their last meeting on Jan. 12. Kentucky has gone from SEC title contender to a team clinging to fading NCAA tournament hopes and Alabama has cemented itself as a legitimate national title contender. This game is bait to anyone not paying attention to the obvious talent gap between these two teams. Do not overthink this one and back Kentucky based on name brand alone. Alabama finishes the season sweep of Kentucky in dominant fashion. Lay the points.

The Bets
Alabama Crimson Tide -6½
-117

7:00 p.m. ET – Miss State at No.18 Tennessee (-9½) O/U: 126½

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Mississippi State +9½ (-115) +395 O 126½ (-120)
Tennessee -9½ (-105) -500 U 126½ (+100)

The 9-7 Bulldogs head to Knoxville to face the 10-3 Volunteers for an SEC showdown. Mississippi State is coming off an 81-73 loss to Alabama on Saturday. Tennessee has lost two games in a row following a 10-1 start to the season, during which the Vols were ranked as high as sixth in the nation in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Now they’ve fallen to No. 18. Most recently, Missouri came into Knoxville and left with a 73-64 win. The Volunteers offense has struggled the last two games, averaging only 56.5 points per game.

Mississippi State is led by guards DJ Stewart Jr. and Iverson Molinar who are averaging 18 and 17.5 points per game, respectively. Tennessee’s leading scorer is John Fulkerson, who is averaging 11.8 points per game. However, Tennessee’s successes earlier this season came because they did not lean on one player for offense. The Vols spread the wealth on offense and played suffocating defense during their blistering start to the season. UT has six players averaging over 8.3 points per game and its defense ranks seventh among Division I teams in scoring defense, allowing only 59.8 points per game.

Conveniently for Tennessee, the biggest weakness of Mississippi State is its inconsistent offense. The Bulldogs have been held to 42, 55, and 46 points in three games this season. Ole Miss held them to 46 points last Tuesday, and the Rebels are not known for their defense, either Tennessee was not much better last Tuesday, scoring only 49 points in a loss to Florida. The Volunteers know they need to get back on track and likely will in the win column, but 10.5 is too many points to give away. The best bet for this game is to target the Over/Under total and take the Under of 126½. Tennessee will win this game with defense. But the Vols very well might not get to 65 points on their own and they aren’t likely to cover the 9.5-point spread. The safest bet is the Under of 126½.

The Bets
Under 126½
-110

9:00 p.m. ET – No.12 Missouri at Auburn (-2½) O/U: 149½

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Missouri +2½ (-110) +120 O 149½ (-120)
Auburn -2½ (-110) -140 U 149½ (+100)

Auburn, now 9-7 overall and seemingly improving rapidly after the addition of freshman sensation Sharife Cooper, welcomes in No. 12 Missouri (10-2) for an all-Tiger matchup that should be great. Auburn is fresh off of a 109-point performance against South Carolina in a win on Saturday. Meanwhile, Missouri went into Knoxville and upset Tennessee 73-64, although it remains to be seen how much of an upset that actually was.

For Auburn, Cooper being declared eligible in early January has changed its entire season. Cooper is averaging 21.2 points per game in his five games and has eclipsed the 25-point mark three times already. Cooper also is adept at setting up others in the offense, as he’s averaging nine assists per contest. As Cooper goes, Auburn’s offense goes, and it has been going at a 90 points or more clip in three of his five games. Missouri is led by guard Xavier Pinson, averaging 14.1 points per game. The biggest mismatch for Auburn in this game, however, will be active forward Jeremiah Tilmon, who averages 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

This confrontation features teams that play at conflicting paces, so the common thought would be that if it is low scoring, it favors Missouri, and if it is a shootout that it would favor Auburn. But Missouri has played a couple high-powered offenses this season and has been able to score over 80 points en route to those victories. Missouri scored 83 against Oregon, 81 against Illinois, and 81 once again vs. Arkansas. Auburn and Arkansas have very similar offensive attacks and Missouri was able to take the lead against the Razorbacks and hold it all the way to the finish. Auburn has explosive offensive firepower,  but is 6-10 in Overs in its games this season (although that number is skewed a bit because it is such a different team with Cooper the driving force on offense now). Nonetheless, take a veteran Missouri team to limit what Auburn is capable of doing just enough to win and allow the game to go Under. This scenario also is a perfect spot to take a chance and parlay Missouri to win outright and the Under, because if either happens, the other likely will as well. Consider a parlay on both.

The Bets
Missouri ML
+120
Under 149½
+100

9:00 p.m. ET – LSU (-5) at Texas A&M O/U: 140½

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
LSU -5 (-115) -205 O 140½ (-115)
Texas A&M +5 (-105) +175 U 140½ (-105)

The 10-4 Tigers head into College Station to face SEC foe Texas A&M (7-6). LSU has lost two games in a row, including a road loss to Kentucky 82-69 last Saturday. The Aggies, also losers of two in a row, spent Saturday in Oxford where they absorbed a 61-50 loss to Ole Miss. LSU is currently third in the SEC standings. Texas A&M, sitting in 12th, is looking to play spoiler. These two teams met in Baton Rouge on Dec. 29, where LSU collected a 77-54 win.

LSU boasts the SEC’s top scorer in Cameron Thomas, who is averaging 21.7 points per game. Thomas scored 32 points in the previous matchup against the Aggies back in December. The Tigers’ high-powered offense also possesses the SEC’s third-leading scorer in Trendon Watford, at 18.7 points per game. LSU averages 84.1 points per game, which ranks second in the conference. The Aggies are led by Emanuel Miller, who averages 16.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. The Aggies average 62.9 points per game, which ranks last in the SEC by over a five -point margin and clearly is their biggest problem. They simply don’t put the ball in the basket enough.

Texas A&M cannot score with LSU. However, crafty coach Buzz Williams and the Aggies are very aware of their inability to score, as they’ve only scored more than 60 points once in SEC play. The Aggies are going to try and make this game as ugly as possible with the hopes they can bring the Tigers’ offense down to its level. It is a strategy that has worked for them well enough to collect three SEC wins. The best bet here is not to back the chalky bet of LSU, but to take the Under of 140.5. The Aggies were unable to slow down the Tigers last time they met, allowing 77 points, but the game total finished at 131. No matter if A&M can keep it close or LSU blows them out, this game is going Under nine out of ten times. Take the Under of 140.5.

The Bets
Under 140½
-105
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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

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