Saturday College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: South Carolina vs. Alabama (Feb. 26)
David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jermaine Couisnard (5) of the South Carolina Gamecocks.
- The South Carolina Gamecocks continue their ascent of the SEC standings in hopes of playing their way into NCAA Tournament consideration.
- USC's next obstacle? The Alabama Crimson Tide, one of the most volatile yet threatening college basketball teams in the country.
- Despite the Gamecocks' and Crimson Tide's mutually shared conference record of 8-7, Saturday's point spread sits at Alabama -11. Our college basketball betting analyst disagrees with that assessment and explains precisely why he's betting South Carolina to cover double digits on the road in Tuscaloosa.
South Carolina vs. Alabama Odds
|South Carolina Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
This SEC basketball matchup likely won’t jump out at you among the most exciting games on Saturday’s slate, but I think it has the potential to be a very entertaining battle.
Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks have quietly won four consecutive SEC games and currently sit at 8-7 in conference play. After a tough start to the year, South Carolina has shown significant improvement and has been competitive in the vast majority of its conference games.
As for Alabama, the Tide’s up-and-down season has been thoroughly well-documented. However, recently Nate Oats’ team has started to find some more consistency. Alabama has won four of its last five games, with its only loss coming on the road against Kentucky.
The Crimson Tide entered the 2021-22 basketball season with lofty expectations, and despite its pitfalls along the way, all of its goals are still within reach.
Can South Carolina stay hot and make this a tight game on the road? Or will Alabama build off its recent momentum to seize and maintain control throughout?
Let’s get into it.
After losses to Princeton and Coastal Carolina during non-conference play, there were legitimate concerns about the future of head coach Frank Martin and South Carolina basketball.
To Martin’s credit, he has stemmed the tide (a prophetic pun foreshadowing Saturday’s outcome?) and has his team playing good basketball at the right time of the year. That likely won’t be enough to force the Gamecocks into the NCAA Tournament picture, but I suppose crazier things have happened.
One major contributor to the Gamecocks’ recent winning streak has been the team’s strong defensive play and athleticism. South Carolina held Mississippi State to 56 points in Wednesday night’s win — in a game that the Gamecocks controlled from start to finish.
Frank Martin’s team does a really nice job of limiting opposing teams from behind the 3-point arc, and it also has been good on the glass.
Despite the improved defensive effort, the Gamecocks will need to have their scorers clicking to hang with the Tide on the road. Junior guard Jermaine Couisnard has been really efficient from the floor in recent games, including a 33-point, 12-of-18 shooting performance in the win against LSU.
If Couisnard can keep it rolling, and if players like Keyshawn Bryant and James Reese can knock down some shots from the outside, then USC can hang around in this game.
When Alabama has it going, it can play with just about anybody in the country. Just look at some of the wins this team has on its resume. Baylor, Houston, Gonzaga and others have all come up short in high-scoring tilts against the Crimson Tide’s offense.
On the contrary, when the 3-point shots aren’t falling — and boy, does Bama take a lot of them — then the Tide are vulnerable to getting upset by lesser opponents.
Alabama got a sneaky-good win on the road at Vandy on Tuesday night, and a win over South Carolina would make it five out of six for the Tide.
To accomplish that, Bama needs to do a better job of keeping opposing bigs off the glass. The Gamecocks crash the boards aggressively, and Alabama checks in at 305th in the country in offensive rebounding prevention.
Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackelford combine to form one of the most lethal backcourts in the country, and both players have exercised good decision-making in recent games.
Nate Oats has plenty of talent on this roster, but that talent needs to start putting together complete games if Alabama intends to make a run during March.
South Carolina vs. Alabama Betting Pick
I’m going to continue to ride the hot hand here.
The betting market continues to underrate South Carolina despite its recent winning streak. Because of that, there is value on the Gamecocks as a double-digit underdogs in this spot.
Alabama hasn’t really blown out any SEC foes throughout the season, and I don’t anticipate it starting here against an opponent playing with a ton of confidence right now.
It will be difficult for South Carolina to generate enough offense to pull off the road upset, but I confidently believe it can hang inside the number.
Take the points, and roll with Frank Martin’s bunch to keep it close on the road.
Pick: South Carolina +10.5 or better
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