Road Dog Tennessee Is Our NCAA Basketball Pick When Visiting Alabama

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 7:39 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 7:39 PM UTC

Tennessee has one of the best offenses in the SEC and they could hold underdog value for our NCAA basketball picks for tonight when visiting slumping Alabama.


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NCAA Basketball Pick: Tennessee +3½
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


The underdogs appear to have value in a battle of SEC first-year coaches Tuesday night when Coach Rick Barnes and his Tennessee Volunteers (10-9, 10-7-1 ATS) pay a visit to the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-8, 9-7 ATS), now coached by Avery Johnson, 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 Tennessee as a modest road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3½ on the NCAA basketball odds board at odds of -110.


SEC on the Rise?
There was some thought before this season that all of the coaching changes in the SEC could improve the conference, although we are not so sure that is true of the conference as a whole. Still, at least Tennessee seems to be trending in the right direction despite the modest 10-9 overall record, as the former Texas Longhorns Coach Barnes has guided them to two wins in the last three games most recently handing South Carolina (17-2) just its second loss on Saturday.

Conversely, the 10-8 Crimson Tide had a promising non-conference season under the former NBA coach Johnson at 9-3, but they have been the winning NCAA basketball picks just once in six SEC games and are in a three-way tie for last place in the conference standings at 1-5 along with Mississippi State and Missouri.


Volunteers Can Score
One thing that sets Tennessee apart from other SEC teams is offense, as the Volunteers are averaging 79.3 points per game and rank 34th in the country in offensive efficiency, the third highest such ranking in the SEC behind only Kentucky (29th) and Texas A&M (32nd).

The Vols are very experienced as they start four seniors and one junior, and that experience has shown in Tennessee protecting the ball well, ranking 31st in the country in offensive turnover percentage at just 15.6 percent vs. a national average of 18.4 percent. The defense grades out just 170th in efficiency, but there are positives on that end too with Tennessee ranking a respectable 89th in two-point defense while allowing an effective field goal percentage of 48.1 percent.

But perhaps the biggest key to this contest could be second chance opportunities as the Volunteers are above average in offensive rebounding percentage at 31.7 percent vs. a national average of 30.1 percent while Alabama is weak on the defensive glass, ranking a dismal 297th in defensive rebounding percentage. In fact the Crimson Tide are a weak rebounding team all the way around as they are just 258th on the offensive glass.


Sloppy Ball-Handling
It is rather interesting that these are the two teams to beat South Carolina this year, except that it was more of an aberration in the case of Alabama as that upset of the Gamecocks still marks its only win since opening up conference play at Mississippi. Most recently the Tide were nipped here at home 72-70 by LSU on Saturday in a game they lost by at the foul line, going just 12-for-19, 63.2 percent from the charity stripe in the two-point loss.

Thus it would be easy to assume that Alabama really should have won that game, except that free throw shooting has been a problem for the Crimson Tide all season and that the low shooting percentage for that game was not far off of their poor percentage from the line for the entire season of 64.4 percent, which ranks 316th in the land.

Another stark contrast between these teams is that while Tennessee has been excellent at ball protection, Alabama has been sloppy ranking 297th nationally in offensive turnover percentage at 20.5 percent. Yes the Crimson Tide are the better defensive team ranking 32nd in defensive efficiency, but that appears to be more than offset here by the edges that Tennessee should enjoy in both second-chance points and transition points.


No Problems on the Road
Finally, Tennessee has not minded travelling much, in fact being a cash cow while going 13-4 ATS in its last 17 road games. Furthermore the Volunteers are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 road games vs. teams with a home winning percentage of greater than .600, while Alabama is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games following an ATS win.

We simply feel that Tennessee is the better team getting points here, a belief validated by the Volunteers being slightly higher ranked on the Pomeroy Ratings (81st vs. 89th), so take the points as the Vols pay a visit to Alabama on Tuesday's matchup.

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