Alabama has been the most successful college football program in history, but the basketball team has never won the NCAA Tournament (no school from the state has). Might that change early next month from Houston? The Tide are +800 second favorites to cut down the nets on the NCAAB odds.
Is Alabama Winning Pick For The 2023 NCAA Championship?
The Crimson Tide are one of three schools (Houston and Purdue) to rank in the top 20 in both defense adjusted efficiency (No. 5) and in offense adjusted efficiency (No. 19) according to KenPom. For the most part, national champions have been in the top 20 in both categories in recent years. Bama won at Houston earlier this season.
It’s not often a legitimate national title contender as a freshman as its best player, but that’s the case for Coach Nate Oats’ team in Brandon Miller. He was named SEC Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and first-team All-SEC. Miller became the first player since Kentucky’s Anthony Davis (2012) to win SEC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season.
It’s the seventh consecutive season a Tide rookie earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team, joining JD Davidson (2022), Joshua Primo (2021), Jaden Shackelford (2020), Kira Lewis Jr. (2019), Collin Sexton (2018), and Braxton Key (2017).
Miller was the fourth player in the last 50 years to lead the SEC in scoring as a freshman (19.6 ppg) joining Tennessee’s Bernard King (1975) and LSU’s Chris Jackson (1989) and Cameron Thomas (2021) and the only player in Division I to score 605 points, record 245 rebounds and make 90 three-pointers this season. His 92 three-pointers rank fourth most in UA history in a single season and 11 away from the program record (Eric Washington, 1995-96). Miller also was named a finalist for the 2023 Julius Erving Award finalist, which goes to the nation’s top small forward.
Meanwhile, Mark Sears earned All-SEC Second-Team honors, Charles Bediako was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team and Jaden Bradley and Noah Clowney were both named to the All-Freshman team. The Tide’s six players earning nine awards in total is the most ever in program history.
The Tide won the SEC regular-season title by a game over Texas A&M despite losing to the Aggies in the regular-season finale. Bama should get a top seed in the NCAA Tournament probably regardless of what happens in the SEC Tournament. The Tide take on No. 9 Mississippi State on Friday in the quarterfinals from Nashville.
Alabama played Mississippi State twice in the regular season and won both times. Alabama has won all of its repeat matchups this season, sweeping the home-and-home series against the Bulldogs, Vanderbilt, Auburn and Arkansas. Alabama has played a team three times in a season just 75 times in 110 seasons of basketball. The Crimson Tide have won all three of those matchups just 25 times in program history.
The Bulldogs advanced with a 69-68 OT win over Florida on Thursday. Tolu Smith had the game-winning basket on a layup with 4.1 seconds left and had 28 points to lead all scorers. The Gators, who trailed by seven with less than two minutes to go in the extra period, had a great look at a potential game-winner, but fifth-year senior guard Myreon Jones, who hit a pair of 3s late in regulation to force OT, was just a hair long on an open 3-ball as the horn sounded.
MSU won despite shooting just 39 percent overall and scoring just 21 points in the second period. That’s because the Bulldogs smashed the Gators 46-35 on the glass, including 18-9 on the offensive ends on the way to 14 second-chance points.
Under first-year head coach Chris Jans, the Bulldogs are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament and fighting for a birth. The win over Florida was a step in the right direction, but a win over Alabama would lock up Mississippi State a spot in the tournament.
Alabama has won the SEC Tournament seven times. That’s the second-most in the league after Kentucky, who has won it 32 times since its introduction in 1933. The Crimson Tide won the tournament in 1934, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991 and most recently in 2021.
Alabama Expert Pick
+200 to reach Final Four but no national title
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Men's College Basketball Playoffs Betting Predictions and Analysis:
Friday, March 24 | Sweet 16
|No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 San Diego State||6:30 p.m.||TBS|
|No. 1 Houston vs. No. 5 Miami||7:15 p.m.||CBS|
|No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 15 Princeton||9 p.m.||TBS|
|No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Xavier||9:45 p.m.||CBS|
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