No. 25 Alabama, BYU Feature in College Basketball Picks Tuesday

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 1:06 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 1:06 PM UTC

Our top college basketball picks of the day features a newly minted Alabama attempting to justify its top-25 ranking versus a stout Texas-Arlington team, and BYU hosting a road-weary Niagara squad. Click here for predictions and previews.

Texas-Arlington vs No. 25 Alabama

No. 25 Alabama is ranked for the first time in nearly six years. It topped Memphis 82-70 on a neutral court in the season opener, while routing Lipscomb (86-64) and Alabama A&M (104-67) in follow-up efforts. The Crimson Tide average 90.7 points on an impressive 56.2 percent shooting. Freshman guard Jon Petty made a school record 10 3-pointers versus the Bulldogs and is one of three scorers posting double digits with 18.3 points per game (Collin Sexton, 23.5; Dazon Ingram, 14.3). Petty, and fellow frosh guard Sexton, are former 5-star recruits and future NBA lottery picks.  Check out the duo flash their stuff in the big win over the Tigers:

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ICYMI...we had a fun opening night in Annapolis! Check out the highlights from our 82-70 win over Memphis! #RollTide #BuckleUp

— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) November 11, 2017

UT-Arlington is an upset king the last few seasons. It won at BYU 89-75 as an 8-point underdog last time out, shooting 54.1 percent and draining 12 of 20 3-pointers. Since 2014, the Mavericks are 15-12 SU and 19-8 ATS when catching points. The better-than-.500 record is impressively topping an 8.3 average line. The team went 27-9 SU last season under 11-year head coach Scott Cross, but fell in the Sun Belt Conference championship. A trip to the NIT was cut short in the second round.

Analysts believe this bunch can reach the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history (2008) this season. Cross starts five seniors and fields a pair of 7-footers: Virginia Tech transfer Johnny Hamilton and Link Kabayundi. The team can score a ton of points. Its one-two punch of forward Kevin Hervey and guard Erick Neal is one of the best in the country. Nevertheless, Cross is emphasizing defense this year to get over the hump and win the one-bid Sun Belt conference.

Alabama head coach Avery Johnson has been rebuilding the Crimson Tide into his likeness for three years and finally has it where he hoped. Strong in all areas, it has quality depth and experience. More importantly, its built to run an up-tempo well-spaced attack missing in Tuscaloosa for decades—well, if one rules out the football team.

Defense is still the Crimson Tide’s core, however, and has been since Johnson took over; it ranks 14th in efficiency according to KenPom. The Mavericks are going to make it fast and Alabama will likely accept the challenge. Nevertheless, these two are shooting an unsustainable 50 percent or better from the floor to begin the year. Neither will hit the mark here. In 16 contests as home favorites against non-conference opponents under Johnson, the combined score in Tuscaloosa surpassed 150 points twice. Go against the early line movement and pick ‘under’ 153 points. Oddsmakers opened the contest at 151.5, adjustments pushing the number to its current offering.

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 153Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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 Niagara vs BYU (-12)

Niagara has not won more than 10 games in a season since 2012. Poor defense is the primary reason why, allowing 76.2 points per game in this span. In 2017, the Purple Eagles rank 262nd in efficiency, yielding a whopping 94.3 points on 51.2 percent shooting. They have played one of the tougher schedules in the country at St. Bonaventure, No. 14 Minnesota, and UMass. A long trek out to Provo, Utah versus an equally stout BYU team Tuesday night could see Niagara let another opponent hit the century mark.

BYU is coming off an 89-75 home loss as 8.5-point chalk to its new nemesis Texas-Arlington. The Mavericks are responsible for the Cougars’ last two defeats after sending them home in the first round of the NIT in March. BYU has yet to see its offense fire, shooting just 43.3 percent in two games against D-1 opponents (Princeton). Expect that to change tonight. Under head coach Dave Rose, the Cougars average 83.7 points per game against unranked, non-conference opponents. For those fancying another shocking upset, don’t bet on it. BYU is 61-3 SU and 39-24-1 ATS (61.9 percent) in this spot. Lay the points on the Cougars and look for the combined score to soar over a 156.5 total. 

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 156Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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