Saturday’s slate is loaded with exciting action for the college basketball odds, but one of the top matchups is a clash between No. 3 Alabama against unranked Auburn. Let’s dissect my college basketball best bets for this important SEC matchup.
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ALABAMA VS. AUBURN BETTING ODDS
Why Auburn Can Cover
On paper, this matchup appears to showcase two teams heading in opposite directions. Auburn has lost two straight while the Tide are riding a three-game winning streak. However, it also represents an ideal bounce-back spot for the Tigers.
Although Alabama boasts a talented roster with potential for a deep tournament run, Auburn’s defense should give them fits. Bruce Pearl has proved at times this year that he’s not afraid to drop into a zone at times and make teams beat them from the perimeter.
This strategy was particularly evident in its win over Arkansas on Jan. 7, where the Razorbacks struggled to score from the perimeter, sinking just 2-of-10 shots from deep.
On the season, the Tide own the SEC’s top-rated 3-point shooting unit (37.1%). Part of this could be credited to their opponents, as LSU’s porous defense allowed them to knock down 33 combined shots from the perimeter in their two matchups. On Wednesday, Nate Oats’ squad connected on whopping 15 shots from behind the arc in a 28-point drumming versus Florida.
That being said, the Tigers are one of the more impressive defenses in the country, holding opponents to the fourth-lowest 3-point percentage (27.2%) across DI. That’s in large part because of their terrific ball pressure.
Although Alabama’s offense is able to create open looks from deep, the Tide have been streaky at times. They failed to hit perimeter shots against Oklahoma (27.3%) but based on the quality of shots taken, Alabama should have won the game (via ShotQuality). Brandon Miller could very well undergo negative shooting variance yet again.
Defense and Home Court
The Tigers thrive when they are able to turn over their opponents and score easy transition opportunities. Pearl’s squad is accruing the 22nd-highest quick points off breakaway steals. If they’re able to force turnovers against a turnover prone ‘Bama squad, they should be able to capitalize with some easy buckets in transition.
Alabama hasn’t been great on the road, either. According to Haslametrics, the Tide rank No. 11 nationally in away/home court advantage. This factor could play a large role against an Auburn unit with one of the better home-court advantages in the country.
Why The Tide Can Cover
On the flip side, this game is a revenge spot for Alabama to a degree. Last year, the Tide lost both games to the Tigers, most notably a 100-81 blowout on the road in Auburn. This season, Alabama has one of the most talented freshmen in college basketball in the aforementioned Miller, who fits perfectly into their perimeter-driven offense.
Oats’ offense is one of the most difficult offenses to stop in college basketball. The Tide run a five-out offense, along with a four-out offense. When Oats employs the former setup, they leave the paint empty for drive-and-kick opportunities.
This structure has proved problematic for most teams to defend and could again against their rival. Miller’s ability to shoot from deep (44.4%) — coupled with his ability to take defenders off the dribble — makes him a mismatch for just about every team they face. If Auburn is unable to slow him down, Alabama’s offense should continue to roll on Saturday.
Moreover, the Tide’s ability of getting to the line gifts them another edge, ranking No. 36 in free-throw attempt rate (38%). The Tigers conversely rank No. 313 in this metric (38.1%), meaning that Auburn fouls quite often. It may represent an issue once again if Alabama controls the tempo.
Additionally, the Tide thrive on second-chance opportunities when they crash the offensive boards. If Johni Broome is unable to keep Noah Clowney and Charles Bediako on the glass, the Tide could be in for a big day in that department.
College Basketball Best Bets Conclusion
Although Alabama is elite at spacing the floor, I’m willing to take a shot on Auburn’s defense cranking up the pressure at home. Let’s sell-high on the Tide and back an Auburn squad that should be highly motivated after two tough road losses.
The best available line is currently Auburn . Good luck on your own college basketball best bets. For more, check out our college basketball power rankings.