Saturday College Basketball Betting Previews: Florida-Alabama, Memphis-UCF

Saturday College Basketball Betting Previews: Florida-Alabama, Memphis-UCF article feature image

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: John Petty

With March less than two weeks away, college basketball teams are jockeying for position to get the best possible conference tournament seed.

Today we head to the AAC and SEC for two conference battles. Let’s take a look at Memphis traveling to UCF and Florida battling Alabama to see where there’s a betting edge.

>> All odds as of 5:30 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and win probabilities on your bets.

Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Odds

  • Spread: Alabama -3.5
  • Over/Under: 134.5
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET

Florida (13-11) has been remarkably average the entire season. It reached a high water mark of 12-8 overall and then promptly lost three games in a row. The Gators are 7-15 ATS, including 3-5 on the road.

Alabama (15-9) is fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid. It’s 6-5 in the SEC and 9-2 at home. The Crimson Tide is 6-5-1 at home ATS but have covered three consecutive home games.

Florida’s strength all year has been its defense. The Gators rank 10th overall in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and 93rd against the 2P. However, in their conference games, the Gators have been substantially worse. They rank 11th among the SEC teams in defending the 2P and 12th in limiting offensive rebounds.

Offensively in the SEC, Florida has been putrid. It ranks dead last in 2P% and only ninth in 3-point efficiency. They aren’t shooting field goals well, regardless of location.

Alabama owns solid metrics on both ends of the floor. The Tide rank 72nd in adjusted defensive efficiency and 46th on offense, buoyed by strong rebounding on both ends of the floor.

The Crimson Tide have been particularly tough at home, beating three teams that are top-32 in the NET rankings in Tuscaloosa. Alabama owns victories over Kentucky, Mississippi, and Mississippi State at home, forcing an average of 13.5 turnovers per game.

Freshman Kira Lewis Jr. (14.4 ppg) has averaged 19.6 ppg in his last three games and sophomore John Petty (11.2 ppg) balances a perfect inside-outside with senior forward Donta Hall (11.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg).

Alabama will bring a sense of urgency in this critical home SEC battle, while Florida’s poor conference metrics provide little hope for a road victory. Look for Alabama’s offensive balance to complement its defensive pressure in a key home win that bolsters its tournament chances.

THE PICK:  Alabama -3.5

Memphis Tigers at UCF Knights

  • Spread: UCF -5.5
  • Over/Under: 147.5
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

Memphis (15-10) has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season. The Tigers are 5-1 in home AAC games but 2-4 in road conference games. They are 11-12-1 overall against the spread but 2-6 ATS on the road.

UCF (18-5) is 5-1 at home in the conference with their only loss coming against Houston. The Knights are 11-9-1 overall against the spread but have easily covered their last two games (at SMU, South Florida).

Memphis beat East Carolina by 10 on the road on Wednesday but had lost and failed to cover the previous three AAC road games. The Tigers defense has struggled in multiple areas within the conference. They rank 10th in 2P% defense and defensive rebounds per game.

On offense, the Tigers give their opponents a ton of extra chances. They rank 236th in the country with an average of 15.6 turnovers per game. They also struggle with efficiency from deep, ranking 236th in 3-point percentage overall.

UCF is playing at an elite level defensively. The Knights have held seven of their last 10 opponents at 67 points or fewer. They lost 77-57 at Memphis on Jan. 27, getting outrebounded 46-28. That was an anomaly for a mediocre rebounding team — that will not happen at UCF.

Senior 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall (10.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg) is a huge weapon on the interior and junior guard Aubrey Dawkins (15.3 ppg) is shooting 47% (eight of 17) from 3P range in his last three games.

UCF is playing its best basketball of the season and Memphis has failed to prove it can win big games on the road. The Knights pressure defense will again force Memphis into turnovers, and the Tigers poor 2P defense will allow UCF to score easily off those turnovers.