Alabama vs. Memphis: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (12/14/21)

Alabama vs. Memphis Betting Odds

Following a string of massive victories, the Crimson Tide will take their talents to Tennessee.

Waiting for them will be Penny Hardaway and a Tigers team that’s coming off a string of pathetic losses. Once a consensus top-25 team, many are buying back on Houston to win the AAC.

As a result, the Tigers are catching points at home Tuesday night. While I’m always interested in buying a home underdog, is it worth betting on a team this broken?

Alabama Crimson Tide Odds 

Everyone knew Alabama would be good this season, but this level of early-season success was very unexpected.

Since losing to Rick Pitino and Iona, the Crimson Tide has recorded four-straight KenPom top-100 wins, with the latter two coming against Gonzaga and Houston. Both were high-scoring, tough-fought games, but Nate Oats squad came out on top.

Alabama is now ranked No. 6 in the AP Poll and even higher by other metrics. But are they truly deserving of being rated this high?

Yes and no.

Oats’ offense is the most analytics-forward in the country, as the Crimson Tide pace the nation in rim-and-3 rate (94%). It’s a high-variance offense, and the Crimson Tide hasn’t been shooting the lights out from deep (35%). But they are top 10 in 2-point percentage (58.3%), and Alabama is eighth nationally in offensive efficiency as a result.

Things are interesting defensively. Alabama’s opponents are shooting 28% from 3 and 61.6% from the free-throw line, both stats that are among the 10 lowest nationally. In the past two games, Gonzaga and Houston combined to shoot 18-for-49 from 3 and 24-for-44 from the charity stripe.

Both those numbers are due for some level of regression. While Alabama is a talented basketball team that is lengthy on defense and a firecracker on offense, I don’t believe it’s the best team in the nation.

Memphis Tigers Odds

The Tigers are broken.

Hardaway’s team is doing all the wrong things. The Tigers are 350th nationally in offensive turnover rate (25%), are 328th in defensive rebounding rate (34.3%), and 320th in defensive FTA/FGA (39.4%).

Or, to put it another way, Memphis doesn’t take care of the ball, doesn’t rebound, and fouls like crazy. The perfect formula to lose basketball games.

And lose is what the Tigers have done. Four straight losses to four teams that are outside the top-150 in KenPom. The worst loss came against Georgia, where they fouled 24 times and allowed 35 free throw attempts.

It’s still early, and Memphis is doing some tangible things correctly.

The Tigers are stout on the interior, ranking second in block rate and 14th in 2-point defense (41.8%).

Emoni Bates is playing well, leading the team in scoring. Although he’s been slightly inefficient and turns the ball over (2.4 TO/game) twice as often has he records an assist (1.2 APG).

The Tigers also get to the line at the second-highest rate nationally. But they’re not converting when they get there, shooting just 66.8% at the charity stripe.

The good news is: All these issues are fixable. Hardaway has a lot of work to do, but conference play doesn’t start until the New Year.

But he better turn it around, because it’s growing ever-more unlikely Memphis grabs an at-large bid after this start.

Prediction and Pick

My Pick: Memphis +3.5 (-105 at PointsBet)

Both these teams are due for regression. Plus, it’s a good sell high spot for Alabama and a good buy-low spot for Memphis.

We’re also grabbing 3.5 points with a home team that plays solid defensively. That’s always a good value bet.

This is a rather high-variance matchup, but Memphis does show slight value. I’d keep this play on the smaller size, and I wouldn’t play it lower than 3.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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