College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for Tennessee vs. Alabama (Wednesday, Dec. 29)
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: JD Davison (Bama)
- No. 14 Tennessee and No. 19 Alabama square off in a top-25 SEC duel.
- The Vols are coming off a monster win over Arizona at home, while the Crimson Tide have lost two of their last three games.
- Doug Ziefel explains why Alabama is the play in this conference opener.
Tennessee vs. Alabama Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Finally, the SEC league schedule is set to commence, and it could not kick off with a better matchup than the one we have here.
The Tennessee Volunteers make the trek to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Volunteers enter this matchup off of their biggest victory to date. They took down the sixth-ranked Arizona Wildcats in impressive fashion as they led wire-to-wire.
As for the Crimson Tide, they are coming into this game in need of a win after being upset once again this season by Davidson. The loss laid a big hit on the Crimson Tide in the AP Poll as they dropped nine spots.
Alabama has now shown the tendency to play to the level of its competition. Will they be up for this conference opener?
When you look at this Tennessee team, it is no secret that its elite defense is what defines it. However, it is far from what has sustained the Volunteers’ success this season.
The Volunteers are one of the rare teams that have the potential to be elite on both ends of the floor, as they are 54th in adjusted offensive efficiency and fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency.
There have been multiple occurrences where a lid has been on the rim for extended stretches, but the Volunteers have remained vigilant in two areas to ensure they don’t fall far behind.
Tennessee is a very well-coached team that is not going to give the ball away easily on the offensive end of the floor. They are 25th in offensive turnover percentage and 36th in offensive rebounding percentage — both well above the national average.
This combination of discipline, technique and hustle allows the Volunteers to have plenty of opportunities on the offensive end, even if shots are not falling.
While the Volunteers’ hustle may help in other areas, they have three men who certainly should not be discounted on the offensive end. Leading scorers Kennedy Chandler and Santiago Vescovi are a pair of guards who have proven to be deadly from anywhere on the floor.
The guy who played a big role in their latest victory — and could very well do so again — is senior forward John Fulkerson. The Volunteers’ big man dropped 24 points on a very imposing Arizona frontcourt.
He should be a big part of the game plan, as the Crimson Tide lack the size to match up with him on the inside.
This Bama defense does not cause turnovers, nor do they box out effectively. So if the Volunteers can get the offense going early, they could put themselves in a great position.
Despite a trio of upset losses, this Alabama team has proven that it can play and defeat the best of them. The Crimson Tide already have two signature non-conference wins over Houston and Gonzaga. The key factor in both of those victories is the pace.
This Alabama team is capable of absolutely shooting the lights out, as it is 10th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 31st in effective field goal percentage.
For a team that shoots as well and as often as the Tide do, balancing out the variance is necessary. This is done by pushing the pace and forcing the opposition to run with them on the break. It is a simple formula for Bama — more opportunities created equals more points on the board.
Jaden Shackelford has been the man for the Crimson Tide this season. The junior guard is both their leading scorer and leading rebounder. He has the ability to take over the game, as was the case against Gonzaga, where he had 20 of his 28 points in the first half.
Shackelford has seemingly been matchup-proof, so it looks as if he is going to get his.
He and his teammates have the potential to succeed from long range, as the Volunteers have been average in defending the 3. We know that they will shoot it, as 46% of the Crimson Tide’s offense has come from behind the arc this season.
Tennessee vs. Alabama Betting Pick
This is really an interesting clash of styles that should produce a great game. It will be the hot-handed Tide against the stout Volunteers on one end.
However, what needs to be considered is the magnitude of this game. This is Alabama’s first conference game, and it will be at home after it is coming off of a frustrating upset loss. Then, you have the Volunteers, who are being respected in the market after their latest win, but in reality, they almost blew it.
I’m going to side with the Crimson Tide here. Their shooting has the potential to create big runs, and the Volunteers are bound to go cold on the offensive end. The Tide also have the length to match up well inside and are solid defensively in their own right.
Pick: Alabama -2 (Play to -3)
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