Here’s something you don’t generally hear in Tuscaloosa after the national championship football game: At least there’s basketball.
While Crimson Tide gridiron fans are Kirby Smarting over Georgia’s back-to-back titles, there’s plenty to be happy about at ‘Bama. The hoops team is 13-2, 3-0 in the SEC, ranked No. 4 in the nation, and coming off a 78-52 mauling of the Kentucky Wildcats.
It didn’t start out so great for head coach Nate Oats, who kicked off his Alabama career by paying for Penn to come into Coleman Coliseum and shocking the Crimson Tide, 81-80. That first year, following the 18-16, 8-10 campaign of former coach Avery Johnson, finished 16-15, 8-10, but the season ended by losing eight of the final 12 games, and included a 25-point defeat at Ole Miss.
But Oats was putting his high-powered, fast-paced offense in place and the following year Alabama went 26-7, 16-2, and made it to the Sweet 16 before losing in overtime to UCLA. In 2021, the defense was one of the best in the nation.
Missing 2021 senior starters Herbert Jones and John Petty, last season was a step back (19-14, 9-9) and a first-round Big Dance exit to Notre Dame.
This year, however, Oats has gone young, starting three freshmen, including 6-9 stud Brandon Miller, and the Tide really is rolling. Their tempo is still among the fastest in the country and they feature a Top 20 offense and Top 10 defense, and their only losses are to No. 6 Connecticut and No. 8 Gonzaga.
Wednesday the Crimson Tide face No. 15 Arkansas in Fayetteville, which is coming off a 72-59 loss at No. 21 Auburn. The SEC also features No. 21 Tennessee. It’s loaded.
Future for Sports Betting Unclear
Alabama sports betting remains illegal, so all this basketball success can’t translate into wagering success unless one is willing to drive to neighboring Tennessee or Mississippi. And with the Alabama state legislature not even meeting again until March, legal sports betting by the fall is, at best, iffy. BetAlabama.com projects 2024 as a better start date bet.
Whenever it launches, you know Alabama college sports will be the main events for wagering.
If you feel like driving to place a bet, however, Alabama has covered in its last two games and is 8-6-1 against the spread. They’re 8-7 over/under, but the last two games have been under 148.5.
Odds of ‘Bama winning the National Basketball Championship have dropped from +2,800 at the start of the season to +1,500 now. If you’re an Auburn fan in Alabama, you can get +10,000 on the Tigers at FanDuel.
There’s no line yet on Alabama at Arkansas, but based on Ken Pomeroy’s computer, the line should be close to a pick ‘em. Maybe Bama giving 1 or 2. As was the case with Alabama’s last two games, the over/under should be around 148.5. Arkansas also pushes the pace, but also has a Top 10 defense.