I think the Vols will beat Mississippi State this Saturday because there's only one quality team in the SEC West this year, and it's located in Tuscaloosa.
I think the Vols will beat South Carolina at Columbia next Thursday because Bruce Pearl owns the Gamecocks. Pearl stands 11-2 vs. the Cocks and has swept the last eight meetings.
I think the Vols will beat youthful Kentucky in the regular-season finale, mostly because the Big Blue stands just 1-6 in SEC road games.
In spite of Kentucky's inexperience, I believe Coach Cal's Kittens will beat Florida in the SEC Tournament's title game. I believe this for two reasons: 1. The Georgia Dome will feel like home to the fuzzy-cheeked Wildcats, given all of the blue-clad fans in the stands. 2. The Gators, having already clinched a good seeding for the NCAA Tournament, will not play with optimum energy.
In case you're wondering how I arrived at all of these conclusions, here's a step-by-step look at my thought process:
SEC EAST RACE
1. Florida loses at UK, wins vs. Alabama, loses at Vanderbilt to finish 12-4.
2. Tennessee wins vs. Mississippi State, wins at South Carolina, wins vs. UK to finish 10-6.
3. Vanderbilt wins at LSU, loses at UK, wins vs. Florida to finish 10-6. Tennessee gets the No. 2 seed because it swept Vandy during the regular season.
4. Kentucky wins vs. Florida, wins vs. Vandy, loses at Tennessee to finish 9-7.
5. Georgia wins vs. South Carolina, wins vs. LSU, loses at Bama to finish 9-7. UK gets the No. 4 seed due to a better divisional record (6-4 vs. 4-6).
6. South Carolina loses at Georgia, loses vs. UT, loses at Mississippi State to finish 5-11.
SEC WEST RACE
1. Alabama wins at Ole Miss, loses at Florida, wins vs. Georgia to finish 13-3.
2. Arkansas wins at Auburn, wins vs. Mississippi State, loses at Ole Miss to finish 8-8.
3. Mississippi State loses at UT, loses at Arkansas, wins vs. South Carolina to finish 7-9.
4. Ole Miss loses vs. Bama, loses at Auburn, wins vs. Arkansas to finish 6-10.
5. LSU loses vs. Vandy, loses at Georgia, wins vs. Auburn to finish 4-12
6. Auburn loses vs. Arkansas, wins vs. Ole Miss, loses at LSU to finish 3-13.
SEC TOURNEY DAY ONE
Kentucky beats LSU
Miss. State beats South Carolina
Georgia beats Ole Miss
Vanderbilt beats Auburn
SEC TOURNEY DAY TWO
Kentucky beats Alabama
Tennessee beats Miss. State
Florida beats Georgia
Vanderbilt beats Arkansas
SEC TOURNEY DAY THREE
Kentucky beats Tennessee
Florida beats Vanderbilt
SEC TOURNEY DAY FOUR
Kentucky beats Florida for the title