Alabama vs. Houston Odds, Picks: Betting Guide to Massive Saturday Matchup
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Tramon Mark (Houston)
Alabama vs. Houston Odds
All eyes will be on the Fertitta Center as the No. 1 Houston Cougars play host to the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide. The Cougars claimed the top spot in the nation when Alabama beat North Carolina and another upset is well within the realm of possibility.
Speaking of the Crimson Tide, they have gotten off to another excellent start. In addition to their big win over North Carolina, they also picked up a victory over a ranked Michigan State team.
As for the top-ranked Cougars, it's about time they get to defend the top spot.
Will the Cougars make a statement and remain the team to beat? Or are the Crimson Tide poised for another upset? Let's look at the odds and make a pick.
Alabama is playing a very similar style of basketball to what it did last year. The Crimson Tide are determined to live and die by the three, except this year, they have a few new faces leading the way.
Freshman Brandon Miller has become the big man on campus as he's begun his collegiate career on a roll. The 6'9" forward is averaging 19.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game and shooting 46.6% from behind the arc.
The new talent doesn't stop there. Ohio transfer Mark Sears has also made an immediate impact, averaging 14.9 points per game and shooting 44% from downtown.
Those two are leading the charge, but many others are contributing from long range. Volume is key for Alabama as the Crimson Tide aren't extremely efficient and rank 119th in three-point percentage.
However, threes have made up 25% of their points, and they have the 19th highest ratio of threes attempted to field goals attempted. However, they haven't faced a team like Houston.
The Cougars are arguably the best defensive team in the nation. They come into this matchup second in adjusted defensive efficiency, first in two-point percentage allowed, and most importantly, third in three-point percentage allowed.
Houston has done a great job forcing teams to settle for outside shots, but is also great at contesting them. With the amount of variance that comes with the Crimson Tide's approach, a cold stretch is very likely, which could put them in a deep hole.
Houston's calling card may be on the defensive end of the floor, but don't be fooled — it can put the ball in the bucket with the best of them.
The Cougars have significantly benefitted from getting leading scorer Marcus Sasser back this season. He appears to have not missed a beat after returning from an injury that kept him to just 12 games last year.
However, Houston is far from a one-man band. Juniors Tramon Mark and J'Wan Roberts have taken big strides and have been very efficient.
Although, what's most telling about this team's depth is that Jamal Shead, the man who led the Cougars' run last March, is fifth on the team in scoring. Much of that has to do with the arrival of top freshman Jarace Walker.
Walker has made his presence felt on both ends, generating second chances on offense and turning back many who dare to meet him at the rim.
Despite all the offensive talent the Cougars possess, this will be their most formidable task yet. The Crimson Tide have been excellent defensively, as they are eighth in effective field goal percentage allowed and 17th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Alabama vs. Houston Betting Pick
This appears to be a tough defensive matchup, but the market disagrees. We have seen the total jump multiple points since opening, and that leads me to go in a different direction.
Alabama's reliance on the three is a bad recipe against Houston's defense. Even if the Crimson Tide alter how they play, their success will be limited in all aspects.
That will lead to many cold streaks where Houston will have the opportunity to go on runs and pull away.
Back the best team in the country to make a statement.
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