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College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Baylor vs. Alabama (Saturday, January 29)

College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Baylor vs. Alabama (Saturday, January 29) article feature image
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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: James Rojas (Alabama)

  • Baylor hosts Alabama in another edition of a Big 12/SEC Challenge matchup.
  • The Bears may be the defending national champions, but this is a good spot for the Crimson Tide, according to our Anthony Dabbundo.
  • Check out Dabbundo's full betting guide and top pick below.

Baylor vs. Alabama Odds

Saturday, Jan. 29
4 p.m. ET
ESPN
Baylor Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3
-110
150.5
-115o / -105u
-160
Alabama Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3
-110
150.5
-115o / -105u
+135
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The defending champions of the two best conferences in college basketball last season will face off in Tuscaloosa, as Baylor visits Alabama on Saturday.

Along with Kentucky-Kansas and Tennessee-Texas, this is one of the headliner matchups in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Both leagues are taking a brief step out of conference play for one day to add to their NCAA Tournament resumes.

Alabama has been the definition of high variance and riding the ups and downs of being a high-volume shooting team. However, this year, the Tide don’t have an elite defense at the other end of the court to overcome the shooting woes that have defined conference play for them.

Baylor isn’t on another level (with Gonzaga) from the rest of the conference like it was last season when it rolled to a national title. Consecutive losses in league play to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State show exactly that.

The Bears’ guards can be exploited and the perimeter defense isn’t good as it was last year either.


Baylor Bears

Baylor’s perimeter defense last season featured two elite defenders in MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell, yet the Bears are defending the 3-point line much better this year than they did last season.

If that feels wrong, it’s because it is. Baylor isn’t as good defensively as it was last year on the perimeter, teams are just making way fewer good looks against it.

Baylor has a bunch of defensive 3-point shooting regression coming against it based on the quality and number of open 3-pointers it has conceded this season.

The status of James Akinjo remains up in the air, and his absence means one fewer quick guard who can match up with Alabama’s shifty drive-and-kick backcourt.

Baylor’s aggressive ball pressure helps it to force turnovers, but it can also lead the Bears to being vulnerable on the glass.


Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama’s poor jump-shooting has been one of the more surprising trends in all of college basketball. All of its volume shooters are making shots at a worse rate this year than they did last season.

Jahvon Quinerly has dipped from 43.3% last season to 23.7% this year. There’s reason to think 43.3% was a bit high for him given his poor shooting year at Villanova as a freshman, but he’s still a good shooter who should be better than 24%.

The same is true for Keon Ellis, who has dropped from almost 39% last season down to 34% this year.

Furman transfer Noah Gurley has dropped from a consistent 37% shooter to 27% this year.

As a team, the Crimson Tide rank 21st in 3-point shooting rate and are just 286th in 3-point field goal percentage. This unit projects out as a top-100 group and gets enough open looks that you’d expect it to be much better than it has been.

When the Crimson Tide are making their 3s, they can legitimately beat anyone in the country. It took just a 38% 3-point shooting day for Alabama to beat Gonzaga by nine points. 39% against Houston was enough to knock off the Cougars, too.

So, Alabama has already beaten two of the four teams that made last season’s Final Four, why not a third?

The offense still is elite at scoring from inside the paint and getting offensive rebounds off of its misses, so I don’t expect Baylor’s dominance of the offensive glass at the other end to result in the Bears getting up a lot more shots in this matchup.


Baylor vs. Alabama Betting Pick

Alabama has had some really low lows as a favorite this season, losing to Iona, Georgia and Missouri. But the highs remain as high as any team in the country, and that’s why the Tide are an excellent squad to back as an underdog.

When the Crimson Tide need to get margin, you’re relying on them making shots to pull away. In this situation, an all-in home spot against the defending national champions, Alabama should be able to generate and hopefully make enough open 3-point looks to make this game a true toss-up.

There’s a large range of outcomes in this matchup, but anything +2 or better is too much for a vulnerable Baylor team to be laying on the road.

With all of the positive shooting regression coming for Alabama, its on the verge of a breakout performance — or maybe even a few of them.

Pick: Alabama +2 or better

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