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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 7:00 AM

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now about how many teams from the SEC will make the NCAA Tournament next month. Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology” has an optimistic count of SIX at the moment. But, that’s with both LSU and Texas A&M sitting squarely on the bubble. One of those teams has to lose Tuesday night when they play each other on the SEC Network at 9 p.m. ET. Neither is assured of closing strong and sealing their invitations.


Current projections for the SEC:

Kentucky is a LOCK to be a #1 seed

Arkansas is projected to be a #6 seed

Georgia is projected to be a #8 seed

Mississippi is projected to be a #8 seed

LSU is projected to be a #11 seed

Texas A&M is projected to be a #11 seed

For now, those are the six teams in the discussion. Florida has fallen so far off the pace that they’re not even in the “next eight” being considered for the brackets according to Lunardi. Neither is Tennessee…who hosts Kentucky Tuesday night on ESPN. It looks like we have four virtual locks (it’s hard to fall all the way out from a projected #8 seed this deep in the season), but clear question marks around the teams we’re previewing today.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicators stats are saying about tonight’s matchup, and the Dance hopes for the Tigers and Aggies. Note that the efficiency stats come from the website of college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy.


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

LSU: 107.0 per 100 possessions (#68 in the nation)

A&M: 106.4 per 100 possessions (#77 in the nation)

We should first point out that Pomeroy actually has LSU up in the class of Georgia and Ole Miss with his rankings, while the Aggies lag that trio. Computers don’t see LSU as a bubble team…but as a clear Dance qualifier. Not much difference here on the offensive side of the floor. Both teams struggle by Dance standards at consistently scoring the ball. Those numbers are okay nationally when you’re talking about 300+ measured teams…but represent sluggishness in terms of teams who matter.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

LSU: 93.0 per 100 possessions (#29 in the nation)

A&M: 95.0 per 100 possessions (#52 in the nation)

The Aggies have been a disappointment on defense this season. They’re not top 50 on either side of the floor…so why should they be in the Dance? Their crunch time defense let them down when they let Florida rally for a late cover this past Saturday night on this floor. Clear edge to the visitors in this part of the matchup.


Pace Ranking

LSU: #8

A&M: #232

Very interesting here. LSU plays lightning fast. The Aggies aren’t super-slow like the class of teams who are down in the 300’s (like Wisconsin and Virginia), but are much slower than LSU. Clearly we’ll have a tug-of-war between playing styles. That generally goes to the HOME team in terms of imposing preferred game flow. The Aggies must resist the temptation to run and gun with LSU. They can win a slow game, but don’t have enough trustworthy offense weaponry to win a track meet.


Against the Spread

LSU: 13-9-2

A&M: 12-10

Both teams are in profitable territory at the moment. LSU has been more underrated…which may still be the case given the difference between the computers and Lunardi. Will they start showing signs of fatigue after playing at that lightning pace all season? If it’s not a concern yet, it will be when they’re trying to string together daily wins in the SEC tournament.

Will somebody’s bubble pop Tuesday night? That could happen for the Aggies with a home loss. They have no margin for error, particularly if the selection committee finally starts paying attention to computers! JIM HURLEY loves handicapping at this time of year because so many competing emotions are at stake. Some teams are in must-win scenarios while others can coast. Some are just getting things figured out while others are growing stale. Oddsmakers can’t keep up!

LSU/Texas A&M (or Kentucky/Tennessee) may or may not be part of the Tuesday ticket. That’s undetermined as we go to press. You can purchase the final word for Tuesday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 any time during normal business hours.

Tomorrow brings the college basketball game everyone’s been waiting for. Be sure you’re with us for our preview of North Carolina/Duke! Here’s what’s ahead over the next seven days in the NOTEBOOK…

Wednesday: College Basketball Preview…North Carolina at Duke in the ACC

Thursday: College Basketball Preview…Temple at SMU in the AAC

Friday: Early Look…Iowa State at Texas or W. Virginia at Okie State in the Big 12

Saturday: College Basketball GameDay…UCLA at Arizona in the Pac 12

Sunday: College Basketball…Evansville at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley

Monday: College Basketball…Louisville at Georgia Tech in the ACC

Tuesday: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Maryland in the Big 10

That’s a slew of highly regarded Dance teams plus a bunch of contenders who are still trying to earn some statement results. Read the NOTEBOOK daily for handicapping tips. And, hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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