Odds & Pick for Alabama vs. Kentucky Basketball: Bet the Crimson Tide in SEC Showdown
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jahvon Quinerly.
- An SEC showdown featuring two of the hottest teams in the conference takes place Tuesday night when the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
- The Wildcats have found their groove since conference play has started, but the Tide have shown they have a solid squad throughout the season.
- Check out BJ Cunningham's full betting analysis complete with a pick and updated odds below.
Alabama vs. Kentucky Odds
Two of the hottest teams in the SEC meet at Rupp Arena Tuesday when Alabama battles Kentucky.
The Crimson Tide are red hot at the moment, winning their last five games, including victories over Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn.
Nate Oats has one of the most talented teams in the conference this season, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Tide to win the SEC title. However, if they are going to be title contenders, they need to win games like this one on Tuesday.
Kentucky was dead and buried after starting the season 1-6. But don’t look now because the Wildcats have won three straight games, including a win at Florida on Saturday.
The Wildcats are starting to get healthy and play much better basketball now that they are in conference play. They were projected to win the SEC this season, so a fourth straight win on Tuesday could go a long way in making those projections come true.
When Alabama has the ball
Oats’ “pace-and-space” offense is off to a hot start in conference play, as the Tide are averaging 1.07 points per possession.
The identity of this Alabama offense comes from jacking up a ton of 3-point shots. Alabama is shooting the ball from 3-point range on 45.5% of its field goal attempts, which is the 26th-highest rate in the country, per KenPom. It can justify it, too, because it’s shooting almost 37% from deep in conference play.
But the big question mark coming into this game is the status of point guard Jahvon Quinerly. He’s missed the Tide’s last two games against Florida and Auburn but has the second-highest usage rate on the team. They are going to need him because Kentucky’s defense is red hot right now.
Kentucky has really turned up its defensive level of play since SEC play began. The Wildcats are allowing only 0.97 points per possession in their last three games.
Where they’ve excelled is defending the paint. In conference play, they’ve held opponents under 40% from inside the arc and have a block rate of over 20%. Kentucky is the fifth-tallest team in the nation, so it’s clearly using its height to its advantage.
However, the Wildcats have struggled on the defensive glass, as they have allowed an offensive rebounding rate of over 35% in their last three games. They’ll need to figure out those issues against Alabama since there will be a lot of long rebounds against a heavy 3-point team like Alabama.
When Kentucky has the ball
The biggest difference between this Kentucky team the last three games versus its losing streak is that it’s shot the ball monumentally better. Over its last three games, Kentucky is shooting an absurd 46.8% from behind the arc, when it shot under 30% in non-conference play.
However, the Wildcats rely on most of their points coming from inside the arc, as they shoot 3-pointers on only 28.4% of their attempts. Alabama has been solid this season defending all over the court, so Kentucky may want to rely on the 3-ball to keep up with Alabama’s offense.
Alabama has made massive improvements on the defensive end of the floor from last season when it ranked 114th in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. The Tide really turned up the defensive pressure when SEC play began, as they are allowing only 0.93 points per possession.
The reason they’ve excelled is that they are defending their opponent’s shot at an extremely high rate. In conference play, they’ve allowed an effective field goal percentage of only 42.1%, so Kentucky is going to have to shoot the ball well to escape with a win on Tuesday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This game is a classic scenario of controlling the pace and controlling the game.
Alabama ranks 15th in the country in tempo and averages only 14.2 seconds to put up its first shot. On the other side of the ball, Kentucky is well below average in pace and gets up its first shot 17 seconds into the shot clock.
This game is going to depend on the status of Quinerly. If he’s able to go, I think Alabama should find a way to keep its win streak going given how good it’s been defensively. I’ll back the Tide at +1.5 — but only if Quinerly is in the lineup.
Pick: Alabama +1.5 (If Jahvon Quinerly plays).