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Saturday’s are ripe for upsets and there could be one brewing big time in Lexington this afternoon.. #25 Alabama hits the road for a rematch with the #4 Kentucky Wildcats in an effort to exact some revenge from a home loss just two weeks ago. Kentucky is a 7-point favorite.
We won’t rehash much of what has happened to Alabama this season just know, if you didn’t already, they are a weird team to handicap. However, since their super frustrating loss to Kentucky, they’ve tallied three straight wins (Ole Miss, Arkansas, Mississippi State). More importantly, they’ve seen their offense come back to them some. You’d hope so to because against Kentucky, the Tide shot 3-of-30 from beyond the arc. Since they have made 27-threes. One of those games was 14-made three night against Ole Miss. Still they are only shooting 33.3% in those three games.
Kentucky is good but health has always been the key for them. Sometimes it was Sahvir Wheeler, sometimes it was TyTy Washington and today it could be more. John Calipari has already said they might be without a couple of players today. One of those is almost certainly TyTy. He tried to give it a go against Tennessee in a game where his stats were terrible and his game wasn’t there and Calipari regretting letting him play. Wheeler could be another player he was referring to, he’s had some issues with injuries already this season and against the Vols was holding his right wrist (non-shooting) later in that game. If there is a sniff it’s both of these two players, I can’t imagine the spread being this high.
Alabama is no small potato even though they may seem small compared to Oscar Tshiebwe (+165 to win Wooden). Alabama also did a pretty decent job of keeping Tshiebwe in check. While he did have a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, you have to put into context some of the massive numbers he’s had this season and the fact that Alabama missed TWENTY-SEVEN THREES! Lots of rebounding opportunities given. Also, Alabama’s Charles Bediako gave him some fits when he was in the game. Nate Oats really like how he’s playing right now. I do too. Tshiebwe has struggled with opponents’ physicality and size and Alabama will bring that. Tennessee blocked five of his shots on Tuesday.
I think Alabama has got to be better shooting the long-ball today. There’s no way they can compete in Rupp Arena just making three long ones. However, if they make six or seven or heaven forbid get a little warm to double digits, Kentucky is ripe for the plucking today. Alabama is shooting 26.6% from three at home but 35.7% on the road. If Kentucky is missing just TyTy and no one else, it’s still a huge hit. He stirs that offense and he plays so much better at home than on the road. Alabama has all the ingredients to win this game, it’s just a matter of giving that offense a few made threes early to get them humming. I don’t think they’ll explode, but they can. I like them today to cover the 7. Alabama +7 is my pick.