Alabama vs. Memphis NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

Jahvon Quinerly #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide drives down the court against the UCLA Bruins. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

These are the best of times for Alabama and the worst of times for Memphis, and we’re combing through the numbers to come up with a winning NCAAB pick for Tuesday’s matchup between the Crimson Tide and Tigers.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Memphis Tigers

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at FedExForum

Given the time of the season, it seems appropriate to quote a little Charles Dickens. It’s very appropriate given the state of affairs for the two hoops teams belonging to Alabama and Memphis. Whether or not this is the high point of the 2021-22 season for the Crimson Tide or the low point for the Tigers, perhaps Tuesday’s tussle will help answer that question.

This big-time clash between top clubs from the SEC and AAC is getting prime-time treatment from ESPN. Most of the top sportsbooks are selling Alabama as 5-point chalk, with a few offering the Crimson Tide at -4½. The scoreboard target is available in the 155-156 range.

Tide No. 7 in Country Scoring With 86 PPG

Expectations were high for Alabama before the season began, and the college basketball futures reflected that with the Crimson Tide in the second tier of teams on the national championship front while being picked to run neck-&-neck with Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference. Nate Oats’ club spent the past 10 days proving those projections were not overly optimistic in wins over a pair of ranked clubs.

Alabama first traveled to Seattle a couple of Saturdays ago for a clash with Gonzaga, the preseason No. 1 team. Technically a neutral site affair, it was a very pro-Gonzaga crowd that watched the Crimson Tide breakaway midway through the first half and go on to a decisive 91-82 triumph.

The Bulldogs were giving up 10 but couldn’t stop Alabama guard Jaden Shackleford who poured in a game-high 28 and converted six of his eight tries from 3-point range. A victory like that could’ve led to a letdown this past Saturday when Alabama hosted Houston in a game that was tight the who way through before ending with some controversy.

The Crimson Tide got a late dunk from JD Davison in the 83-82 win, Shackleford again with the hot hand on the outside by shooting 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson was upset in the final sequence when he thought the Crimson Tide got away with a goaltending call.

Tigers 0-2 Vs. SEC with ‘Bama and Tennessee on Deck

Everything started to go south for Penny Hardaway and the Tigers over the Thanksgiving weekend in Brooklyn. That’s where Memphis was manhandled by what has turned out to be a pretty good Iowa State team in the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship, 78-59. The Tigers really looked lethargic in the second half and were favored by 11½ points at Bet365.

That one loss snowballed into a 4-game skid, Memphis favored by double-digits in each of those contests. The road losses at Georgia and Mississippi were close games, and Hardaway spoke of a fractured locker room following the defeat at the hands of the Rebels.

It looked as if the Tigers were turning things around last Friday at home against Murray State. Favored by 10, Memphis closed the first half strong to go into halftime with a 40-26 lead.

The Racers had other ideas and came out of the break pouring in one 3-pointer after another to leave FedExForum with a 74-72 upset. Despite a very talented frontcourt, Memphis hasn’t dominated on the glass as expected.

Teams Meeting for First Time in Four Years

Tuesday’s tilt will be the ninth meeting between the two programs, and Memphis has a 5-3 edge over Alabama.

The Tigers won the first four meetings way back in the day, long before hoops was a true part of the Tuscaloosa scene and each of those contests taking place in Memphis.

Alabama has since won three of the last four encounters, the most recent taking place at the 2017 Veterans Classic in Annapolis. It was the season opener for both sides, and the Crimson Tide cashed as 4-point favorites on the NCAA basketball odds in the 82-70 final. That one got past the total with 15½-points to spare.

The Pick

A combination of bad luck and poor performance is behind the skid Memphis is on right now. And trying to pull out of the dive against Alabama with a game against Tennessee coming up this weekend almost isn’t fair.

A wise old man once told me to never try to outsmart a streak in sports, and that’s behind my play in this one.

NCAAB Pick: Alabama -5 (-106) at FanDuel