After winning the SEC regular-season and tournament titles last season, Alabama has its sights set on a repeat this season. The Crimson Tide opened SEC play with a big win last week and will aim to make it a 2-0 start in Gainesville as they visit the Florida Gators.
In a matchup of top-20 teams last Wednesday, a late three-pointer by Keon Ellis propelled Alabama to a win over Tennessee. Now the Tide hit the road for their toughest true road game of the season to date, looking to add another Quadrant 1 win to their resume.
After having last week’s SEC opener at Ole Miss postponed due to COVID issues within their program, the Gators are ready and able to belatedly begin conference action against the visiting Tide. Florida is currently in the March Madness field, but a win over Alabama would only boost their standing.
Alabama vs Florida Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: #15 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-3, 1-0 SEC) vs Florida Gators (9-3, 0-0 SEC)
- Venue & Location: Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center (Gainesville, Florida)
- Date: Wednesday, January 5, 2022
- Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Spread: Alabama +1.5 (-110), Florida -1.5 (-110)
- Total: OVER 149.5 (-110), UNDER 149.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Alabama +105, Florida -125
Odds are from BetMGM.
Alabama vs Florida Betting Outlook
Deep Tide Seek 2-0 Start in SEC Play
Alabama has played only one true road game this season to date, a 92-78 loss at Memphis on December 14. But the Crimson Tide have cut their teeth against one of the toughest schedules in the country. That includes a win over Gonzaga in Seattle and home wins over Houston and Tennessee.
Against the Vols, the Tide trailed for much of the game and were down by six with six minutes left. But they hung in there, and Ellis delivered the big blow in a wild stretch in which the lead changed hands three times in less than 20 seconds.
Ellis (12.2 PPG) is one of three Alabama players averaging double figures in scoring, with Jaden Shackleford leading the way at 16.5 PPG and Jahvon Quinerly second at 14.9 PPG. Overall, the Tide average 82.2 PPG, which ranks in the top 20 in the country. They do it with depth that few have, with eight players averaging at least 6.8 points per game.
Alabama loves the three more than most, and how far they go this season will be down to if that approach bears results more often than not. They average almost 30 three-point attempts per game, and 46.4 percent of their field-goal attempts are threes, which ranks 27th in the country. But they are shooting only 32.8 percent from outside, which ranks 205th. Against Tennessee, the Tide made only seven threes in 31 attempts (22.6 percent).
Gators Gear Up for SEC Action After Disappointing December
Florida had an impressive start to the season, winning their first six games. That included a win over rival Florida State and a neutral site win over Ohio State, who is ranked 13th in this week’s AP poll.
But things didn’t go as swimmingly in December, as they won three of six games. Their losses to Oklahoma and Maryland aren’t bad losses, though the Terps aren’t a projected tournament team at the moment. But they inexplicably lost by 15 at home to Texas Southern, which is firmly in the bad loss category no matter how well the Tigers do in the SWAC this season.
Like Alabama, Florida has three players averaging double figures in scoring. Leading the way is big man Colin Castleton, who is having a career year after testing the NBA Draft waters. Castleton is averaging 14.8 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 2.5 blocks per game.
If Florida is to win, they will need to exploit the advantage they have with Castleton. Seven-footer Charles Bediako is a potential future star for Alabama, but he is still just a freshman and hasn’t played more than 22 minutes in any of their past nine games.
Alabama vs Florida Prediction and Best Bets
Alabama 84, Florida 73 (Alabama +1.5 and OVER 149.5)
Florida has allowed 70 or more points only twice this season, in their losses to Oklahoma and Maryland. The Gators would much prefer the game stay in the 60s, as that would be their best chance to win.
To do that, they will need to slow the game down at both ends of the court. That would be true to form on the defensive end but not on the offensive end. Florida ranks 37th in average offensive possession length (as per KenPom’s rankings), while Alabama ranks 13th.
Alabama has done a great job this season of sticking to their style against–and sticking their style to–most opponents. Only twice have they been held under 70 points, and they put 83 points on Houston, one of the best defensive teams in college basketball.
Make or miss, you know Alabama will keep firing away from outside. Both teams defend the three relatively well, ranking in the top 50 in the country in that category. But Alabama hits such a high percentage of their two-point shots–59 percent, which is third-best in college basketball–and puts up so many shots that when the shots finally do start falling, the rest of the SEC will be in even more trouble.
Florida hasn’t played since December 22, and that rust will play directly into Alabama’s hands in this matchup. The Gators will have to score to keep up, and they won’t be able to do that well enough to take down the Tide.