SEC Tournament 2021: Quarterfinals Schedule, Live Stream, Bracket Predictions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 12, 2021

SEC Tournament 2021: Quarterfinals Schedule, Live Stream, Bracket Predictions

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    For the first time since 2014, the SEC tournament champions will be neither Kentucky nor Auburn. The Wildcats (who won every year from 2015-18) were defeated by Mississippi State in the second round Thursday, while the Tigers (the 2019 champs) are serving a self-imposed postseason ban.

    So who will rise up and win this year's tournament? It will be one of the eight teams playing in quarterfinal matchups on Friday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

    With March Madness nearly here, Bleacher Report has all your college hoops needs covered:

    Alabama, which is the No. 1 seed and SEC regular-season champion, is the tournament favorite ahead of its quarterfinal matchup against Mississippi State. Arkansas (No. 2 seed), LSU (No. 3) and Tennessee (No. 4) were the other teams that received double byes and will be playing its first games of the tourney Friday.

    Here's a look at the schedule, followed by a prediction for each of the four games.

Quarterfinals Schedule

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Friday, March 12

    No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 9 Mississippi State, noon ET, ESPN

    No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 5 Florida, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Missouri, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network

    No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Ole Miss, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network

    Games can be streamed live on the ESPN app.

Alabama over Mississippi State

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Having one of the best seasons in program history, Alabama is poised to have a strong showing in the men's SEC tournament and throughout March. The Crimson Tide have been the best team in the conference all season, going 16-2 in SEC play to win the regular-season championship, and they will be looking to carry that over into the tourney.

    Mississippi State took down Kentucky 74-73 in the second round Thursday, but it will face a much greater challenge against Alabama. The Crimson Tide have beaten the Bulldogs twice this season, notching an 81-73 home win on Jan. 23 and a 64-59 road victory on Feb. 27.

    When Alabama is hot from three-point range, it's difficult to beat. And the Crimson Tide should be ready to go. Expect them to knock down plenty of shots from beyond the arc to roll to a win over Mississippi State.

    Prediction: Alabama 83, Mississippi State 69

Tennessee over Florida

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    Saul Young/Associated Press

    Tennessee played Florida on Sunday and needed a victory to earn the No. 4 seed and a double bye for the tournament. And that's what the Vols got, as they avenged an earlier loss to the Gators with a 65-54 win to end the regular season on a strong note.

    The teams will face off for the second time in six days Friday. And if the Gators are going to produce a different result, they will need to have a better offensive showing. While scoring only 54 points Sunday, they shot 41.7 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers.

    However, that could be challenging against a Vols team that may not have reached their peak. Although this will be the closest game between Tennessee and Florida this season, the Vols will pull out the win, with freshman guard Jaden Springer hitting some key shots late.

    Prediction: Tennessee 73, Florida 70

Arkansas over Missouri

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Arkansas is not only one of the best offensive teams in the SEC (averaging a conference-best 83.3 points per game), but it's also the hottest. The Razorbacks ended the regular season on an eight-game winning streak and notched victories in 11 of their last 12 games.

    However, Missouri has given Arkansas some trouble this season. The Tigers beat the Razorbacks 81-68 at home on Jan. 2 and then took them to overtime on the road Feb. 13 before losing 86-81. So if any team in the SEC could prevent Arkansas from reaching the tournament championship game, it could be Mizzou.

    Still, the Tigers' effort may not be enough. The Razorbacks' powerful offense is led by talented freshman guard Moses Moody (who ranks third in the SEC with 17.5 points per game), and they are going to rely on him to get by Missouri in what will likely be a high-scoring contest.

    Prediction: Arkansas 89, Missouri 83

Ole Miss over LSU

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Ole Miss is on the NCAA men's basketball tournament bubble, and a strong showing at the SEC tournament could convince the selection committee to give the Rebels an at-large bid for March Madness. They got off to a good start Thursday, notching a 76-59 win over South Carolina in a second-round matchup.

    But things will get tougher for Ole Miss on Friday when it faces No. 3 LSU. The Tigers, who beat the Rebels 75-61 on Jan. 9, ended the regular season with five wins in their last seven games.

    Ole Miss has also been playing well, though, winning eight of its last 10 games. And with it needing to keep winning to push its way into the NCAA tournament, a quarterfinal upset could be on the horizon for the final game on Friday's schedule. The Rebels will pull out a close win and keep their SEC tournament run going.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 76, LSU 73