In a year that has witnessed upsets night in and night out, the Alabama Crimson Tide have managed to keep the ship afloat and run the SEC since the start of conference play. This has marked them as one of the best teams in the nation, painting a target on their back any given night. That serves no different against the Auburn Tigers, a team that has molded into a sleeper SEC winner off the backs of an elite defense. Can they lock down the Tide and get the win at home?
Alabama Vs. Auburn Odds
Oddsmakers have tempered their expectations for the Auburn Tigers chances of getting the win, opening them as a +2.5 underdog. Bettors have sided with the Tigers, taking them down to +2 as of writing. Even though Alabama has remained undefeated in conference play, they have suffered from streaky play. This gives Auburn’s defense an opening to create chaos, slowing down the Tide’s scoring output and giving their offense ample opportunities to seal this game away.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a blistering pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 149.5. Bettors were quick to side with bookmakers since the open, hammering the over up to 152.5. This may have recency bias behind Auburn’s offense’s improved level of play, but this still stands as a stay away from me as the possibility for consistent scoring on both ends seems bleak.
Alabama Vs. Auburn Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Aub +2.5
I will back Auburn down to a pick’em as I believe tomorrow is the day we finally see the Alabama Crimson Tide lose in conference play. The Tigers defense has remained elite throughout the course of the season, now finally getting the help they need on the offensive end behind an improved level of play. They will need to fire on all cylinders on both ends should they want to get the upset, a level of play I believe we will witness.
Even though the Tigers offense has steadily improved, this is a must win spot for Auburn as they lost four of their last five. I can’t think of any better opportunity to get back on track for a late season push than upsetting the number one team on your own home court. Should they want to get the win, then their defense will need to be ready to stop the Tide in transition to avoid getting behind in a hole early on.
The Tide run as the fastest unit in the nation, ranking first in Adjusted Tempo per Kenpom. As soon as they get the ball in their hands they want to move it right down the court and look for openings in the shifting defense to exploit for three point opportunities. While this has worked so far, transitional looks may be tougher to come by as the Tigers excel at limiting fast break scoring opportunities.
Not only will they be able to limit Alabama’s transitional scoring chances, but Auburn locks down in the half court as well. They are elite in both smothering the perimeter, as well as altering looks in the paint by ranking near top in the nation in Effective Field Goal Percentage. Auburn will need to continue that level of play as Alabama possesses an elite dual threat scoring offense. They run as one of the best defenses in the country, ranking 15th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Alabama Vs. Auburn Key Matchups
Can Auburn’s offense find consistency on offense to put away the Crimson Tide?
Auburn interior offense vs Alabama rim protection
Even though the Auburn offense has slightly improved in an efficiency standpoint, they still mightily struggle at finding scoring success from the perimeter. This is not your typical Bruce Pearl run and gun three-point shooting type of team as Auburn currently averages 29.2% from the perimeter.
Instead, they have opted into the idea of abusing the paint for high quality looks at the rim. This style of play will be intriguing to see fold out as Alabama excels at guarding the interior but have been prone to fouling.
Auburn will need every scoring opportunity they can get whether it is from a contested shot down low, or the charity stripe. With their defense limiting the pace of scoring from Alabama, Auburn will be poised to keep this close and possibly generate the upset victory.
Back Auburn at no lower than a pick’em in what is a must win situation for the reeling Tigers.