Alabama to Let Down, Making Winthrop the NCAA Basketball Pick

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 7:34 PM GMT

Alabama comes off of four straight wins vs. good competition with the last two coming on the road, but with Oregon up next, this home date with Winthrop is a very treacherous spot.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Winthrop +9.5 (-105)
Best Line Offered at: at 5Dimes

 

A horrific scheduling spot could cool off the home team from the SEC, giving value to the underrated small conference opponent Wednesday night when the Winthrop Eagles (6-2, 0-1 ATS) of the Big South Conference pay a visit to the hot Alabama Crimson Tide (6-2, 4-3 ATS) at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, AL at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on the SEC Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Winthrop as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +9½ with NCAA Basketball odds of -106.

 

Tide is Rolling
Alabama spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Florida for the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, and it got destroyed by Xavier 64-45 in the opening round of that tournament to fall to 2-2 on the season while suffering its second blowout loss in three games following an earlier 80-48 defeat at Dayton.

However, the Crimson Tide the won the last two games of that tournament vs. Wichita State and Notre Dame and then made it four straight wins with two impressive road wins, most recently 51-50 at Clemson on Sunday.

Winthrop is 6-2 overall although it has been the losing NCAA Basketball pick in its two games vs. Power 5 conference schools. However, it was not as if the Eagles were intimidated in those games as they actually gave fine accounts of themselves, losing by eight points to NC State of the ACC and most recently by 10 points to Georgia of the SEC last Tuesday, with both of those games being true road games like this one.

 

Bad Sandwich
As hot as Alabama is right now, this looks like a terrible scheduling spot for the Tide, not only because they are coming off of four tough wins that involved a lot of travelling, but also because they have a date with Oregon in Birmingham coming up next, making this a prime sandwich game vs. a supposedly outclassed opponent. This would not be the first time Winthrop snuck up on a major conference school either, including some NCAA Tournament upsets.

Besides, it is not as if Alabama is some juggernaut that just expects to win just by showing up. Yes, the Tide have won four straight but the wins have been by a grand total of nine points, as they won two games by one point, once by three points and once by four points! Alabama defends well enough, ranking 30th in the country in defensive efficiency while yielding an effective field goal percentage of 46.8 percent, but the offense leaves a lot to be desired.

Alabama is just 315th in the country in scoring with its 65.2 points per game, and while some of that is attributable to ranking 208th in tempo rating, bad shooting is just as much to blame with the Crimson Tide shooting just 42.3 percent, and they have remained sloppy with the basketball ranking 311th in offensive turnover percentage at 21.5 percent vs. a national average of 18.7 percent. That seems to make giving this many points dangerous with a possibly unfocused team.

 

Eagles Can Push Pace and Defend
Winthrop on the other hand can score in bunches averaging 83.4 points per game while playing the exact opposite style that Alabaman employs, ranking 26th in the nation in tempo rating. If Alabama comes out a bit complacent here, which seems like a very strong possibility given the scheduling, there is a real possibility of the underdogs from Winthrop running the Tide out of their building early on before Alabama gets its wake-up call.

And the Eagles are actually better than many think defensively despite ranking 311th in points against at 79.1 per game. In this case, the points allowed are a by-product of the phrenetic pace, as the reality is that Winthrop is allowing an effective field goal percentage of 46.7 percent, which is actually a tick lower than what Alabama is allowing! Therefore, the Eagles have a realistic chance at an outright upset if they can quicken the pace of this game enough throughout.

 

Hanging with the Big Boys
Finally, Winthrop is not on the betting board very often coming out of the Big South, but when it is it is usually against major conference schools. And the Eagles have for the most past relished those challenges, in fact going 7-0 ATS the last seven times they came off of an ATS loss!

Keep in mind that Winthrop did not play poorly despite failing to cover in that 10-point loss at Georgia, so look for that trend to continue here in a prime sandwich spot for Alabama, making taking the points with the Eagles our recommendation for Wednesday.