The SEC Conference Tournament continues tomorrow with a full slate of games, including a clash between two teams that each need a deep run to retain NCAA Tournament hopes. Neither Alabama nor LSU sit on any bit of a favorable spot on the bubble. In fact, the only way for either to earn a Tournament bid may be to walk way with the SEC Conference Tournament Championship and an auto bid. Each team is certainly just thinking one game at a time for now, though. The Tigers of LSU open up as two-point favorites in tomorrow night’s matchup.
LSU doesn’t have nearly the resume that it should given the talent all over the roster. The Tigers might have the best front court in the SEC, save Florida and Kentucky. Johnny O’Bryant III is a monster in the post and Jordan Mickey averages over three blocks per game in addition to double-digit points and nearly eight rebounds. The presence of those two in the paint should be enough to dominate the interior against a fairly large but relatively unproductive Alabama inside game. O’Bryant and Mickey are no strangers to having to do most of the heavy lifting for a forward-oriented LSU team but the Tigers need their star bigs to be the best they can be if they want to generate any sort of momentum going forward in the conference tournament.
The matchup to watch on the outside will be how Andre Stringer and Anthony Hickey deal with Trevor Releford. Alabama’s senior guard leads the team with almost 19 points per game. And what a great sport Releford has been all season – carrying a ‘Bama team that desperately needs some firepower to line up next to its great senior. Presumably, it will be Hickey on Releford but I’m going to group the LSU backcourt together as a tandem that needs to neutralize Releford, which would mean engaging him on defense as much as trying to stop his game when he’s on offense.
At the end of the day I think that LSU is just simply more than two points better than Alabama. The Tigers lost by two at ‘Bama earlier this season, which was one of LSU’s more encouraging road performances. The Tigers were horrendous away from home all year. But this is a neutral site. With the revenge factor and the better players, look for LSU to win this one closer to double-digits than two to get its SEC Tournament run started.
Free Pick: LSU -2