Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick
When: Friday, March 15, 2019 – 7 p.m. ET
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: SEC Network
By: Matt Lowry, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BAMA +10.5 / UK -10.5 (MyBookie Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 138
Last Time Out: Alabama beat Ole Miss 62-57 in the second round of the SEC tournament; Kentucky beat Florida 66-57 in their regular season finale
Scouting the Crimson Tide:
The Crimson Tide picked up a huge win over the Ole Miss Rebels to book their ticket into the SEC quarterfinals. Not only did they advance, but they also picked a quality win to add to their tournament resume. Now with a chance to advance to the semifinals, a win would pretty much guarantee their spot in the Big Dance. A big reason for their win over the Rebels was because Ole Miss took 4 free throws the entire game. Not putting them on the line allowed Alabama to slowly crawl back and of course win after being down by double digits at the half.
Scouting the Wildcats:
Just like last year, the Wildcats did not manage to secure the regular season title in the SEC. No matter though because they have still dominated this tournament regardless of their seeding in the SEC. Kentucky is currently projected to be a 1 seed, but with a lot of other big-name schools still making their case, the Wildcats cannot afford to lose this game.
Head to Head:
Alabama met Kentucky once this season and beat them on their home floor. Before that one win by Alabama, the Wildcats had previously won 9 consecutive meetings with the Tide.
Notable Betting Trends:
An important trend to look at is when these teams get together they tend to score a lot of points. Over the last ten meetings dating back to 2015, the over is 7-3. More recently, the over is 4-0 in the last 4 games. Kentucky has also dominated when it comes to the spread and they have covered in 7 of the last 10 and 2 of the last 3. For Alabama, their trends show that they are 8-11 straight up when allowing more than 70 points but are 10-3 when allowing less than 70 points.
Alabama from the free throw line. Against Ole Miss, the Tide were horrid from the charity strike. They shot 7 of 16 (43.8%) and were lucky to get away with a win. Going forward into the Kentucky game, the Crimson Tide have no other choice but to improve this number. Especially if they want to slow this game down and get easy points, free throws are a must have if the Tide want to reach the semifinals.
Alabama will Cover if:
They play a complete 40-minute game. This may sound like an obvious one, but the Tide played terribly in the first half against Ole Miss, which meant they had to storm back in the second half. The problem is, Kentucky is a much better team than the Rebels and if they go down big early it will be so much harder for them to rally. If the Tide can outplay the Wildcats in the first half, it will be critical that they stay focused because when Kentucky is down they often find a way to come back and steal a win. Also, it will be imperative that the Tide knock down their threes at a higher rate. They shot 5 of 17 from behind the arc (29.4%) which will do them no favors when trying to keep up with the Kentucky offense.
Kentucky will Cover if:
They can win the battle of the boards. Overall the Wildcats have been a top 35 team when it comes to how many boards they grab per game. This number for Kentucky is 38.6, while they only allow an 8th best 27.3 boards per game. Going way back to January, we see that the Wildcats were outrebounded 40-32. This obviously gave the Tide way too many extra looks and helped them seal the win in the end. If the Kentucky are going to win this rebounding battle, PJ Washington, who averages 7.5 boards will need to have a monster game.
Matt’s Pick for Alabama vs. Kentucky:
Kentucky is so much better than they were way back in January in the first meeting with the Tide. The opening line has the Wildcats as a 10.5-point favorite, but with how many upsets have happened already in March, this number is a bit too high. The over/under is set at 138 and with how much the Wildcats score, the over is sticking out as the best play.
Matt’s College Basketball Pick: Over 138