The Big 12/SEC Challenge gets underway this weekend as we enter the end of January in this college basketball season. The Alabama Crimson Tide will be heading to Oklahoma to face off against the Sooners. In most years this would be looked at as a prime only football showdown, but this will be a very big basketball game considering the Crimson Tide is currently a top-5 basketball team. Alabama is currently No. 2 in the AP rankings and is off to their best start in program history under head coach Nate Oates who has simply transformed Alabama into a basketball powerhouse in recent years. If Bama can continue this hot streak this year, the Crimson Tide can start terrifying us in basketball too.
Oklahoma has also been a very good basketball team in recent years and they now find themselves with head coach Porter Moser who recently took Loyola Chicago to a final four appearance. Unfortunately for the Sooners, this has not been the strongest start to a season as they currently sit with an 11-9 record and a 2-6 Big 12 record. Don’t take that to think they are bad however, as the Big 12 is the deepest conference in the country. Oklahoma has the tools to be great and a big win against a team like Alabama would certainly give them the confidence moving forward. Let’s jump into this game’s picks and predictions:
Alabama vs. Oklahoma Betting Odds
This is a home game for Oklahoma so that should count for something, but when you are the No. 2 ranked team in the country, you can assume you will be picked to be a favorite home or away. Especially going up against an unranked team in Oklahoma. I would assume the spread line would be placed around seven or eight points to factor in the home court advantage and the Big 12/SEC challenge. ESPN Analytics is currently giving Alabama a 71.9% chance to win on the road in this matchup. When it comes to Kenpom analytical rankings, Alabama currently ranks fifth out of all teams in Division 1. Oklahoma currently ranks 52nd in the country which isn’t super low for a team that is 2-6 in conference play. The biggest difference in these teams is their offensive production which Alabama has shown they have much more of and more guys to go to which certainly is a reason for them entering as projected to win.
There is no over/under total placed yet either but it’s easy to speculate based on each team’s scoring averages. Alabama currently averages 83.2 PPG while Oklahoma only averages 67.3. They are more similar when it comes to points allowed. Alabama allows around 68.7 PPG and Oklahoma allows 64.6. You could speculate the line to be placed around 130 or 140.
Alabama vs. Oklahoma Odds, Picks, and Predictions
My Pick: Alabama ML
I think this could start out as a good game and I do think Oklahoma is a decent team, but Alabama is as good as anyone in the country and think they find a way to win on the road in this cross-conference matchup. Alabama really has the advantage when it comes offensively which I do think will be the overall difference maker. Brandon Miller and Mark Sears are certainly weapons, but Noah Clowney also averages 10.1 PPG as well from Oates’ Crimson Tide. Oklahoma only has two players that are averaging double digit in scoring with Grant Sherfield averaging 16.4 and Tanner Groves with 10.1. It’s hard to keep up with this Alabama team without an abundance of offensive go-to guys. Looking at the strength of schedule as well, Oklahoma has yet to beat a ranked team and has lost all six of their games against ranked opponents. Alabama is currently 5-2 against ranked opponents and standing with an 18-2 record. One of their ranked wins came against Houston who currently stands at No. 3 in the AP polls. I don’t expect their winning streak to fall to Oklahoma.
In terms of over/under speculations, I think this could be a high scoring game so it depends where the line is placed. If it is placed around 130 or 135 I think the over can hit as I believe this could be close to a 140 or higher final. I see Alabama being able to put up at least 75 and Oklahoma being able to put up high 60s.
Brandon Miller vs. Oklahoma
The biggest matchup will be how Alabama star Brandon Miller does against Oklahoma. He is averaging 19.5 PPG and 8.2 RPG. He is one of the top players in the country so as long as he continues playing well and has a great game, this team can go very far.