It’s not exactly Maui, but the Maui Invitational will proceed regardless of the tournament unable to take place in Hawaii. The 2020 Maui Invitational is in Asheville, North Carolina as a result of Covid. Put up some palm trees and lay down some sand and it’s just like Hawaii, right? No, not quite, but it’s better than no tournament at all. And from a player’s perspective, there are going to be far less distractions playing in Asheville than in Hawaii.
It’s unfortunate that the teams had to miss out on a paid trip to Maui, though. With vaccines nearing mass production, it’s likely that we will have a normal start to the college basketball season in November of 2021. The Stanford Cardinal and Alabama Crimson Tide headline a must-watch matchup in the late night hours. Alabama are off to a 1-0 start, while Stanford will open their season tonight against the Crimson Tide in Asheville.
Alabama dispatched Jacksonville State by a score of 81-57 in their opener on November 25. That was to be expected for the Crimson Tide. Struggling to put away Jacksonville State would have been an early season red flag for Alabama. Jaden Shackleford and Jahvon Quinerly each scored 18 points, while John Petty put back 14 points for a very productive day for the guards. Herb Jones also netted 12 points to put all four guards in double-digit scoring versus Jacksonville State.
The Crimson Tide were unable to go dancing last year. They finished with a cumulative record of 16-15 and 8-10 in-conference. That put them behind eight teams in the SEC. Injuries piled up high for Alabama to sink their battleship pretty early in the season. They were regarded as a top-25 team healthy, but the injuries were far too much to overcome.
Much of their core, including Herb Jones is back in the lineup this year. However, there is one big missing piece not on the court in 2020-21. Kira Lewis left for the NBA, so Alabama are without a major contributor from last year. They weren’t the same team without their field general on the floor. For Stanford, they bring in a hyped up 5-star recruit expected to do a lot of damage for the Cardinal. Stanford lured Ziaire Williams away from top schools. He is the must-watch player of the evening in Asheville. Head below for our free Stanford vs. Alabama pick for November 30, 2020.
Stanford Cardinal vs. Alabama Crimson Tide NCAAM Betting Odds:
Stanford vs. Alabama Prediction:
Kira Lewis did a lot of things well for Alabama last season. The 19-year-old was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the 13th overall pick in the draft. Not a bad pick by the Pelicans. Look at the difference for Alabama when he was on the floor versus when he wasn’t. The Crimson Tide averaged 1.05 points per possession when Lewis was on the floor.
Conversely, when Lewis wasn’t on the floor, the Crimson Tide scored just 0.79 points per game. That’s not to say that Alabama lacks talent now. Their guard play is going to be rock solid, but Lewis off the roster doesn’t help things, certainly. He could have been the best player in this game. However, that honor likely belongs to Stanford’s Ziaire Williams.
Williams was recruited hard by Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Wisconsin, USC, and Oregon among many others. The talented small forward was ranked No. 6 overall in the country. Stanford didn’t really have a go-to player on their roster a season ago. That said, the Cardinal still played well to finish with a record of 20-12.
They finished badly with three straight losses, though didn’t have to worry about the tournament in March because of the cancellation. With the addition of Williams, the Cardinal finally have a go-to player that they can operate their offense around. Stanford likes to set up offensively and move the ball around.
Fundamentally they are rock solid, but lacked a spark offensively. If Williams pans out currently, that should be able to put them over the top and get into March Madness in 2021. He goes to a conference in the Pac-12 that provides him an opportunity to dominate this competition. As far as tonight is concerned, does Alabama have anybody to match up with him? They’re a guard heavy lineup that probably won’t. I’m backing the small underdog in this matchup.