Wednesday CBB Picks: Ride With Auburn, Texas A&M in SEC Play

The SEC has gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive leagues in college basketball.

Everyone knows about the Tennessee Volunteers, but the Auburn Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies also deserve credit for their recent defensive performances.

In total, 11 of the 14 teams in the SEC rank inside the top 100 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom.

Auburn comes into Wednesday in strong defensive form for its matchup against the LSU Tigers, who are struggling to say the least in SEC play under first-year head coach Matt McMahon.

Texas A&M quietly put together an impressive start of its own on defense. The Aggies already held the Florida Gators to 63 points at the start of league play, and they get a chance to replicate that performance at home on Wednesday.

There are a few other mismatches on the Wednesday schedule to take advantage of with short favorites.

Wednesday CBB Picks

Overall Record: 54-57-1 (1-3 Tuesday)

Auburn (-4.5) at LSU (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

LSU's revamped roster under Matt McMahon has had some growing pains in SEC play.

The Tigers lost four straight games after beating the Arkansas Razorbacks to kick off their league campaign. They conceded 106 points to the Alabama Crimson Tide in what has to be viewed as the lowest point of the season to date.

I don't think LSU will respond properly to that loss because of how tough Auburn's defense is to break down. Bruce Pearl's team earned three of its four league wins by holding opponents under 65 points.

LSU's overall defensive numbers are inflated by a weak nonconference schedule in which it played eight teams ranked 200th or lower on KenPom. LSU has three straight losses by double figures and the same fate will await it against Auburn.

Florida at Texas A&M (-3.5) (7 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Texas A&M's defense ramped up its intensity once SEC play began.

The Aggies held all of their four SEC opponents under 65 points, including Florida in the conference opener on January 4 in Gainesville.

A&M has not allowed an opponent to score more than 67 points on it inside Reed Arena. The Aggies also have an edge on the boards on Wednesday. They rank ninth in offensive rebounding on KenPom, while Florida is 287th. A&M owned a 13-6 edge on the offensive boards against Florida in their first meeting.

Virginia Tech at Virginia (-5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Speaking of defense.

Let's talk about Virginia.

The Cavaliers are 4-1 in ACC play and have held three opponents under 60 points in those four victories.

Virginia Tech comes into John Paul Jones Arena on a five-game losing streak. Playing UVA's defense is the last thing a struggling team wants to see.

The Hokies' one saving grace is their offense that averages 74.2 points per game, but they will be limited by Virginia and their defense is not good enough to compete with the No. 10 team in the country.

Saint Louis (-5.5) at Loyola Chicago (7 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

Loyola Chicago is going through a brutal start to life in the Atlantic 10.

The Ramblers are 0-5 in A-10 play and all of those defeats were by double figures.

Loyola allowed an average of 85.4 points per game in those A-10 contests. Saint Louis averages 76.6 points per game and it possesses a top 50 two-point defense.

Saint Louis is trending in the opposite direction as Loyola with a three-game winning run and the Billikens already have two road wins in A-10 play over teams ranked 188th and 207th on KenPom. Loyola is ranked 235th on KenPom.

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