The #6 Alabama Crimson Tide (22-6, 16-2 SEC) take on the Tennessee Volunteers (18-7, 10-7 SEC) in the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals. Alabama won their lone meeting this season, a 71-63 victory at Tennessee in early January. The winner of the semifinal matchup will play the winner of LSU vs. Arkansas on Sunday in the championship. Saturday’s tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Alabama is a 4-point favorite over the Volunteers, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama wrapped up their regular season with three-straight victories and throttled Mississippi State, 85-48, in the quarterfinal matchup yesterday. The Crimson Tide are the top seed in the SEC Tournament after winning the regular-season title by 2.5 games. Currently, Alabama is a 2-seed in most NCAA Tournament prediction models.
Offensively, the Crimson Tide average 79.8 points per game while shooting 43.3% from the field and 35.5% from beyond the arc. Alabama surrenders 69.5 points per game on defense, holding teams to 40.4% shooting from the floor and 28.2% shooting from three.
Fifteen players saw action in Thursday’s blowout over the Bulldogs, a good sign for the Crimson Tide as they possibly play three games in three days. Sophomore guard Jahvon Quinerly paced Alabama’s offense with 14 points off the bench. Alabama shot 48.5% (32-of-66) and hoisted 36 three-point field goal attempts. MSU was held to only 29% (18-of-62) shooting and committed 18 turnovers.
What to Know – Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee reached the semifinals with their second-consecutive victory over the Florida Gators in quarterfinal play. The Volunteers wrapped up their regular-season slate with a home victory over Florida and took down the Gators again on Friday, 78-66. Tennessee is a likely 5-seed in the Big Dance when the brackets are revealed Sunday night.
The Volunteers score 72.7 points per game behind a 44.4% shooting effort from the floor and 33.7% effort from the arc. Tennessee’s defense holds opponents to 62.8 points per game and 40% shooting from the field, and 32.2% from deep.
Five Vols players scored in double figures in Friday’s win over the Gators. Sophomore guard Santiago Vescovi led all Vols players with 14 points, knocking down four 3-point field goals. Tennessee shot 46.7% (28-of-60) from the field and held Florida to 34.5% (20-of-58) shooting. The Vols won both the rebounding and turnover battle to advance to the weekend for the third time in three years.
The Pick is In
Alabama did what it does best, held the Volunteers to just 19% (4-of-21) shooting from the beyond the arc in their matchup earlier this season. While the Volunteers might not shoot that poorly again from three, it should be noted that the Crimson Tide are one of the top teams in the nation defending the three-ball. Tennessee is well-coached and has punched their ticket to the championship in the last two tournaments. Alabama’s starters didn’t see the floor too long in Friday’s game, and that extra rest will play a role in Saturday’s victory for Alabama.
The Pick: Alabama Crimson Tide -4