Alabama and Florida playing for the SEC title is nothing new … in football. But in basketball, well, this is a new thing. However, the overall regular-season crown is likely on the line tonight in Gainesville when the Tide visit as college basketball’s regular season wraps up this week.
How the Teams Enter
No. 14 Florida (22-6, 11-3) looks like the class of the SEC. However, the Gators saw their six-game losing streak end on Saturday at Kentucky – but there’s no shame there considering UK has won 33 straight at home. Kenny Boynton played big for Florida with 21 points and went 5-for-9 from three-point range. The rest of the team went 3-for-10.
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Alabama (19-11, 11-3) had its four-game winning streak snapped on Saturday at Ole Miss, 68-63. The Tide held the Rebels to 39.7 percent shooting and had an 11-point lead but couldn’t hang against what was clearly a more desperate team.
Alabama at Florida Betting Storylines
The Tide have already wrapped up the SEC West and, thus, will get one of two No. 1 seeds for next week’s conference tournament. Florida has clinched the other No. 1 seed, but doesn’t yet have the SEC East title outright. Vanderbilt is two games back of UF and the Commodores host the Gators on Saturday. UF hasn’t won the SEC regular-season overall title since 2007, the year of its second straight national title. Alabama hasn’t won the regular-season title in nine years. The SEC uses head-to-head matchups to determine seeds for the league tournament, but awards regular-season co-championships when two or more teams have the best league mark. There have not been co-champions since Florida and Kentucky in 2001.
You would have to say this game is much more important for Alabama, because the Tide didn’t look good in nonconference play for the most part, suffering bad losses to teams like Seton Hall, Iowa, St. Peter’s and Providence. Tonight could be the Tide’s final shot at a ranked team before Selection Sunday – Alabama is 1-2 vs. ranked foes so far, the lone win coming at home vs. Kentucky (which can’t win on the road). So even though Alabama is an SEC division champion, it is squarely on the NCAA at-large bubble.
Tonight will be a homecoming for Tide coach Anthony Grant, a Florida assistant under Billy Donovan from 1996 through 2006. He has his team playing stellar defense, ranking No. 1 in the SEC in scoring defense (No. 5 in the nation) and opponent shooting percentage. In the Tide’s last 17 games, in which they are 14-3, only six opponents have scored more than 60 points in regulation. UF is second in the league in scoring defense and is 19-1 when holding opponents to 70 points or less this season.
Florida is a lock for an NCAA bid, but tonight is the Gators’ final home game and Senior Night so there will be plenty of emotion. UF is 5-0 this season after a loss. If the Gators can win out, including the SEC Tournament, it’s possible they could get a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but a No. 3 is the likely result. Alabama hasn't beaten Florida since the 2008 SEC Tournament and has not won in Gainesville since 1995 (before Donovan got there).
Alabama’s star is junior JaMychal Green (16.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game), but he will be hounded by UF’s Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus. The Gators should have a huge advantage in the backcourt in Erving Walker (14.6 ppg) and Kenny Boynton (13.5 ppg).
Alabama at Florida Betting Odds and Trends
Florida is a six-point favorite, according to NCAA basketball odds, with the total at just 125. UF is 13-3 at home and 4-9 ATS. Bama is 4-5 on the road and 4-5 ATS.
Alabama is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. a team with a winning record.
UF has covered just four of its past 17 games as a favorite.
The ‘over’ is 9-3-1 in Alabama’s past 13 as a dog.
The ‘over’ is 5-1 ATS in UF’s past six overall.
The underdog is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings.
College Basketball Picks: Alabama at Florida Predictions
With both teams being so good defensively, those ‘over’ trends are a bit surprising – but take the ‘over’ here as 125 is awfully low. With this being the final home game of the year, I think Florida comes out with high intensity and wins this game going away. So take UF and give the six.
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