What a great event the ACC- Big 10 Challenge turned out to be this year! The challenge was tied at four games apiece going into last night’s slate of games, and when all the smoke cleared, we ended up with a 7-7 tie! Both of these leagues are going to be really good this year, and we saw just how closely they are matched as, just as the night before, all but one of these games was decided by ten points or fewer.
I brought you all the betting preview action last night, and we went 5-1 on the night! We picked up wins backing Rutgers and Syracuse, who both won outright as underdogs. And we covered the spreads with Virginia, Purdue, and Georgia Tech as well. The lone loss on the night came in the Michigan, and North Carolina game and all I can say about that is wow, this Michigan team is really, really good. All in all, it was a fantastic event from a fan perspective, and we were able to have a great betting night as well. For today’s pick, we will focus on the game between the Knights of UCF and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will head to Central Florida Thursday for a non-conference matchup with the Knights. Both of these teams are hoping to hear their names called on Selection Sunday and have gotten off to decent starts. Alabama is 5-1 on the year and has nice wins over Wichita State and Murray State. Their lone loss was a bad one though as they lost to a bad Northeastern team.
UCF has a similar resume as they picked up a solid win over Western Kentucky and sit at 5-1. Their loss is a bad one as well as they lost to Florida Atlantic. The Knights are -5.5-point home court favorites. The game total is 134.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from UCF Arena in Orlando.
The game that a lot of sports fans want to see on the gridiron is happening tonight on the hardwood. While these schools are certainly known more for their football programs, both of them have budding basketball programs as well. Alabama exploded onto the national scene last year with a solid campaign that saw them make a run to the NCAA tournament.
But they lost that team’s superstar in Colin Sexton to the NBA, and this year’s team has a lot of question marks. The Tide has an elite defensive unit and lots of size, especially on the perimeter, but scoring has been a struggle this year. Freshman Kira Lewis has provided the spark on offense for Alabama as the youngster is averaging fourteen points a game to lead Alabama, and has scored twenty or more points three times already this season.
For UCF, the Knights are scheduled super soft in the non-conference, with this being the biggest challenge until they hit league play. The Knights have some real talent this year and should contend to win the AAC title this season. They have similar problems though as Alabama, in that they really struggle to score the ball.
The Knights are shooting an abysmal 55% from the free throw line this season, that’s 349th in the country. It is going to be hard to win close games if they can’t make their free throws. The Knights are led by senior guard BJ Taylor who is scoring fifteen points a game. They also feature a bunch of size down low as Tacko Fall, the 7-6 310-pound giant patrols the paint. Fall is going for eleven points, eight rebounds, and two and a half blocks a game on the year.
Both of these teams have a similar style. They play great defense, they are long and athletic, and they struggle to score the ball. This could end up being a really ugly game to watch tonight where there are long scoring droughts from both teams. The logical idea would be to jump on the under right? But when I look at the total, it is really low at just 134.5 points. If either team gets hot for any period of time, this game will go over.
So, while I expect a low scoring game, I don’t think a play on the total is the right move. What I do like though, is a play on Alabama. While the Tide doesn’t have the same star power they had last year, they might have a better overall team. The SEC is going to be brutal this year, but if they can finish with a .500 or better record in conference play, that should be enough to get them into the tournament again this year.
Avery Johnson has done a great job recruiting high-level talent at Alabama, and I think this team just might surprise some people this season. In an ugly game where points are going to be hard to come by, I will snatch up the five and a half points and expect a tight contest. Don’t be shocked if the Knights struggles at the line are the difference in this one. Give me the Alabama Crimson Tide plus five and a half pints tonight in Orlando, as the Knights are going to be on upset alert!