Alabama (22-3) at Tennessee (19-6)
When: Wednesday, February 15th 2023
Where: Thompson-Boling Arena,
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
Opening Odds: Tennessee -3/141
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The marquee matchup in College Basketball this Wednesday is by far the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide visiting the 10th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers in a hug SEC battle. Alabama recorded a couple of easy wins last week to vault to the top of the rankings for the first time in 20 years. It was their fourth straight victory and 13th in the last 14 after the 77-69 win at Auburn on Saturday. The Tide are now a perfect 12-0 in conference plays, two games ahead of Texas A&M and four clear of Tennessee. Alabama started the week with an easy 97-69 home win over the Florida Gators.
Meanwhile, the Vols have struggled of late, dropping three of their last four including both games last week to fall to No. 10 in the national rankings. Tennessee lost both games by a single point and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer – a 66-65 loss at Vanderbilt and 86-85 home setback to Missouri. Against the Tigers, Tennessee overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half before Santiago Vescovi missed a free throw and Tobe Awaka committed a lane violation with three seconds left before DeAndre Gholston’s 3-pointer. Alabama has won the last three meetings but the teams haven’t played since December of 2021.
Alabama was able to overcome Brandon Miller’s 0-for-7 performance from beyond the arc in the win over Auburn on Saturday. Rylan Griffen and Mark Sears picked up the slack by scoring 16 and 15 points, respectively. They combined to make 5-of-8 attempts from 3-point range while the rest of the team sank just 1-of-13. Miller leads the team in points (18.8) and rebounds (8.2), but saw his streak of 15 straight games in which he made a 3-pointer come to an end. Alabama is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 overall and 5-2 ATS in their last seven away from home.
The Vols spread out the scoring and Vescovi leads the team with a 12.2 average and recorded 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in Tennessee’s 73-68 loss to Alabama last season. Tennessee’s Tyreke Key, who did not play in that game, came off the bench on Saturday to score 21 of his 23 points in the second half. He also sank a season-high five 3-pointers. Tennessee’s defense is ranked No. 3 in points allowed (56.3), No. 2 in field goal percentage defense (35.5 percent) and No. 1 in defending the three (24.2 percent). Those are national rankings, not conference marks.
I know Alabama is playing better, but the curse of being No. 1 in the nation is real. Tennessee’s defense is very good and will make it hard for the Tide to get things going in a hostile environment. I’ll lay the points with Tennessee.
Pick: Tennessee -2.5