Amidst off court news, Alabama has looked to be on a mission to remind the nation that they are the best team in the nation. So far so done as they have cruises in their recent SEC conference tournament game against Mississippi State. They are now a -9 point favorite against Missouri, a team that just knocked off Tennessee. While both teams are expected to bring a heavy dose of offense, the Crimson Tide’s defense will be the key factor in the under ticket cashing at the window.
Missouri Vs. Alabama Prediction
Alabama’s defense has gone mostly unnoticed, overshadowed by a hyper efficient fast paced offense that has swept the nation by their fun style of play. Getting out in a sprint as soon as they grab the rebound, looking to hit a three in transition against a reeling defense. While that has helped carry their success, their defense has been the more consistent unit as of date. Alabama finished the season ranked third in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom.
Their defense will need to come in crisp and focused from start to finish as Missouri has played as an efficient offense all season. They finished the season ranked seventh in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. That offense was put on notice as they picked apart the Vols defense in their last game, comfortably pulling away late in their contest. The Tigers seemingly found their shot nearly every possession, shifting the Vols defense to their liking and getting a high-quality look at the rim.
While not quite elite as Tennessee’s defense, the Crimson Tide will pose as another tough test for Missouri’s offense as Alabama length and athleticism excel in smothering looks at the basket. The Crimson Tide actually finished better in covering opposing looks at the rim, ranking first in the nation in Opposing Effective Field Goal Percentage per TeamRankings with an eFG% of 41.8%. They have maintained their elite coverage rate, dipping slightly to 42.2% in their last three contests while the Vols dipped to 54.2%.
That coverage will be called upon, especially when it comes to covering Missouri’s Kobe Brown who has stepped up as a premier scoring threat. Brown currently averages 15.9 points per game while also crashing the glass by hauling in an average of 6.2 rebounds. Brown’s success was put on display against Tennessee, seemingly having his way and commanding a brunt of their defensive attention. Should he be slowed down, then you can expect Missouri to stumble and be prone to scoring lulls.
Missouri Vs. Alabama Prediction: Under 158.5
Missouri Vs. Alabama Odds
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As mentioned earlier, Alabama is playing with a chip on their shoulder and looking to make a statement in the postseason. Oddsmakers have played into that role, opening the Crimson Tide as a -8.5 favorite. Bettors are backing Alabama as well, backing the Crimson Tide up to -9 as of writing. While Missouri’s last win was impressive, Tennessee has lacked as an elite unit due to their inefficiencies on offense. Missouri took advantage of that, setting a scoring pace that the Vols could not keep up with.
Speaking of scoring, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a blistering pace as they opened the number at 158.5. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either side of the total, keeping the number the same as the opener. The incredibly high total comes as no surprise with both units being known for their blistering fast paced scoring offenses. Yet the under has been the value play in my opinion with defenses playing a bigger role than we imagine.
Missouri Vs. Alabama Key Matchups
Alabama streaky shooting vs Missouri defense
It’s not ideal to back the idea of a team going cold, but Alabama’s offense lives and dies by the perimeter and Missouri has done a good job at defending the perimeter as of late. That was made apparent against Tennessee, taking away their looks at the rim from deep and forcing them into low quality looks.
While I am tempering my expectations of Missouri pulling off that same feat against a much better offensive unit, they are at least capable of shifting towards Alabama’s open men at the perimeter. They hold opposing offenses to 35% from deep, forcing Alabama to connect at a consistent rate with a league average coverage rank. Missouri’s ability to limit the three is a key reason why I think the under will cash in my Missouri Vs. Alabama prediction.
It’s not settling taking an under that involves Missouri and Alabama’s offense, but both defenses are poised to slow each other down and cash our under ticket at the window.