Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST.
Semi Finals of Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament - Barclays Center - Brooklyn, New York
1:00 PM EST. We have to wonder how many sleepy-eyed gamblers will be eager to grab a coffee or a beer and head to the window to back the Crimson Tide today. If you read the reports, Alabama is "lucky" to be here after a coast-to-coast buzzer beater in the opening round of this SEC tournament propelled them past favored Texas A&M. While one could write off that first victory as a fluke, surely yesterday's 81-63 drubbing of rival Auburn would be enough to prove their worth, but no, the Tigers "quit" in the second half and didn't really care about the contest with their ticket to The Big Dance already in the mail. We call B.S. on all of it. Expectations were high for the Tide, as some predicted they had top-three talent in the SEC after returning their three leading scorers from last season while adding top-10 prospect Collin Sexton who has been every bit as good as advertised after averaging 18.6 points per game this season. However, the biggest criticism of this year's 'Bama squad has been its inconsistency, but it has played the 14th toughest schedule in the nation according to KenPom, and the SEC has become a meat grinder like the ACC or Big 12 despite being overshadowed by its gridiron brothers. Momentum is a funny thing. All seemed lost after a disappointing five-game losing skid ended their regular season, but the Crimson Tide have now got a couple of wins under their belt and have a real shot of making their first trip to the NCAA's since 2012.
Despite a revolving door of freshman recruits that come and go every season, Kentucky always seems to find itself in the top-25 and in contention for an NCAA National Championship. This year's edition of the Wildcats is no different, as UK came into the season with no juniors or seniors on the squad. A four-game losing streak at the beginning of February had Kentucky's stock at its lowest in years, but since a 76-66 loss at Auburn, the Wildcats are rolling again with wins in five of their last six games. Included in that was last night's 62-49 smothering of Georgia as just a 4½-point favorite. While a double-digit victory was great for their backers, the Wildcats benefited from an atrocious 28% night shooting from the Bulldogs. They aren't likely to meet another team that cold the rest of the year. It's been written today that Kentucky is rounding into form at the right time of year, but when the Wildcats are in the national spotlight, you are going to pay a premium to back them as they are one of college hoops' true blue bloods. These two teams played in Lexington in mid-February which was the game that started the Tide's slide to end the year. UK was spotting 4-points at home that night, and now it is being asked to do the same here in a neutral site game. That's not right. With Kentucky's stock at its highest this season, playing them here would not be the prudent move.
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#523 Alabama +4 -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)