A wise man once said, "If you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket."
That's what this tournament represents. A ticket. A chance. An opportunity to correct the brutal loss at home against Alabama.
We can't grab a spot in the Big Dance with a win today, but we can damn sure grab an NIT spot with a loss. So that's what this game is about... moving forward, getting a win under our belt, and delaying the conversation for one more day.
Let's break it down.
1) Rematch, part two
This is our third time to see the Tigers, and things have gone pretty well in the first two matchups.
- A&M travels to Auburn, doesn't play very well, gets a screwed on a ton of calls, and still comfortably defeats the Tigers on the road. Danuel House goes full flame mode.
- The Tigers head to Reed and get blitzed in the second half en route to a 25-point massacre. You might also remember this as the last time the boys in maroon won a basketball game. House didn't play very well in that one, which is important because...
2) We will not have Danuel House
House, who was recently named 1st-team All-SEC, was seen in a walking boot in Nashville and is unlikely to play at any point during the SEC Tournament. He is certainly out for today's game, if nothing else.
I would be worried if this game were five days ago, but by all accounts Alex Caruso and Peyton Allen have recovered from last week's flu symptoms and are 100% ready to go. If we have our full compliment of players sans House, we still have enough talent to win this game relatively easily. However...
3) Conference Tournaments are weird
You never know what you're going to get from any given squad. Is your opponent really going to dig their heels in and try to keep their season alive? Do they have one eye on Spring Break? If it's a team playing for NCAA seeding, will they shut it down once things go south? There are a million different variables in play, and it's impossible to predict the outcome.
Oh, and there's one more thing... it's really tough to beat the same team three times in one season. Really tough. We'll touch on this more during tomorrow's LSU preview if things go well today, but there are dozens and dozens of cases where a lesser team (who was swept) grabbed the second rematch in the conference tournament.
The more familiar teams become with each other, the more in-game coaching comes into play... and Bruce Pearl is no slouch. Just something to keep in mind.
With all that said, I still see us getting the W today. I think the three-game sweep rule will very likely rear its ugly head, but it won't happen until tomorrow. We get our win today and set up a massive re-match with the Tigers, with absolutely everything to play for.