- BetOnline lists Kentucky (+225) as the favorite to win the SEC regular-season title
- Florida (+450) is a strong contender after adding star grad-transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr.
- Auburn (+900) is an underdog after losing three of their top scorers from last year’s Final Four team
While Kentucky isn’t generating the same pre-season hype as past years, John Calipari’s squad is favored to finish first in a SEC Conference loaded with football schools.
After winning three-straight regular-season championships, the Wildcats are now in the midst of a two-year dry spell and haven’t claimed college basketball’s biggest prize since 2012.
This year will also be no walk in the park after the Florida Gators brought in a top-10 recruiting class and the best transfer player in the country.
Let’s review the conference odds at BetOnline and predict a winner in the SEC.
ODDS TO WIN SEC REGULAR-SEASON
Don’t look now, but the Wildcats actually have two-returning players this year. Both Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley will combine with freshman guards Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney and Johnny Juzang to give UK the best backcourt in the country.
As always, however, Kentucky will only go as far as their highly-recruited one-and-done stars take them. Along with Maxey, one of the most college-ready scorers in the freshman class, Calipari will rely on 6-foot-6 forward Khalil Whitney to carry the offensive load.
Ten predictions for John Calipari’s second decade as UK basketball coach #bbn #ukbasketball https://t.co/AOnmP1qNVm
— John Clay (@johnclayiv) October 30, 2019
Top-notch graduate transfer Nate Sestina will help fill out the frontcourt with returnees E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards, but this might be a team that can be pushed around inside.
Florida is generating a ton of hype after landing their most-talented big man since the glory days of Joakim Noah and Al Horford on the transfer market.
The 6-foot-10 Kerry Blackshear Jr. was second-team All-ACC after averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds on 50.8 percent shooting in 2018/19. While he’ll provide post scoring and veteran leadership, combo guard Tre Mann and wing Scottie Lewis will give the Gators a major injection of freshman scoring.
#UF‘s Kerry Blackshear, Jr. has been named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list.
Details at @GatorsTerritory:
➡️ https://t.co/6HKohkT9dA #Gators pic.twitter.com/dUQYyFZkJt
— Corey Bender (@Corey_Bender) October 18, 2019
The two McDonald’s All-Americans supplement veteran point guard Andrew Nembhard and sharp-shooter Noah Locke on a surprisingly deep club that will give Kentucky all it can handle and perhaps contend for a national title.
After a few federal investigations kept Bruce Pearl out of the national spotlight for a solid decade, it was nice to have him back in our lives last March when the big, orange goofball brought Auburn all the way to the Final Four.
The Tigers lost their three best players (Jared Harper, Chuma Okeke and Bryce Brown) from last year’s Cinderella-run, but still have a lot of winning DNA (five returning seniors) and one of the SEC’s strongest frontcourts after adding four-star forward Isaac Okoro.
Reporter: Coach, do you have anything to say about the exhibition game against Troy?
Bruce Pearl: pic.twitter.com/lJsLTso6kg
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) October 28, 2019
Team defense, experience, and Pearl’s enthusiastic brand of coaching will be enough for a return trip to the tournament, but Auburn’s lack of backcourt talent will make it tough to win the SEC’s regular-season championship.
Pick: Florida Gators (+450)