#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs #1 Colroado Buffaloes
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 9:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Pick
Current Line: Alabama -2 1/2
Opening Total: 141
Current Total: 143 1/2
Money Line: Alabama -145 / Colorado +125
As these two teams were both number one seeds in the NIT along with Boston College and Virginia Tech, it is very likely that Virginia Commonwealth took one of their spots in the NCAA Tournament. Everyone knows about VCU’s Cinderella run to the Final Four. Some Alabama and Colorado fans might be asking themselves what could have been and imagine it could be their teams in the Final Four becuase they feel Alabama and Colorado are better than VCU. Coincidentally, Alabama coach Anthony Grant left VCU to take over the Tide two seasons ago. We don’t know what would have happened had either of these teams made the NCAA tournament. However, that is history and right now they will have to console themselves with a chance to win the NIT. Alabama is 24-11 overall and won the SEC Western Division with a 12-4 record. A tissue soft non-conference schedule doomed them to the NIT. Thus far in the tournament, Alabama destroyed Coastal Carolina 68-44 in the first round, beat New Mexico 74-67 in the second round, and beat Miami-(FL) 79-64 in the quarterfinals. All games were in Tuscaloosa. Colorado meanwhile is 24-13 overall and finished 5th in the Big 12 with an 8-8 record. The Buffaloes beat Texas Southern 88-74 in the first round, California 89-72 in the second round, and Kent St 81-74 in the quarterfinals. All games were in Boulder.
Colorado and Alabama have never played each other in basketball. Both teams have reached the NIT semifinals numerous times but have never won it or even played for the Championship. Colorado last made the semifinals in 1991 and Alabama did so in 2001. Alabama is 14-4 ATS as a favorite this year. including 11-4 against teams with winning records. Colorado is 4-13 ATS after a non-conference game the last two seasons.
Alabama guard Kendall Durant is out indefinitely with a foot injury. He has been out since December 11. Alabama guard Andrew Steele is out with a concussion. Forward Jason Carter is also questionable for an undisclosed reason and missed the alst game for the Tide. He plays only 6 minutes a game anyway. None of them scores that many points for the Tide, so the losses aren’t that important. Forward Tony Mitchell averages 15.5 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.6 steals to lead the team, and 1.2 blocks a game. Alabama is led by forward JaMychal Green. He is averaging 15.4 points , 7.7 rebounds to lead the team, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.1 blocks a game to lead the team. Guard Trevor Releford averages 11.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists to lead the team, and 1.5 steals a game. Guard Charvez Davis averages 8.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists a game. Alabama is outscoring opponents 67-59 on the season, The Tide are shooting 45.1% from the field and 30.3% from 3-point range. Alabama holds opponents to 38.3% shooting from the field. The Crimson Tide make 70.9% from the free throw line. Alabama grabs 36.5 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +3.1. The Tide averages 12.3 assists and 14.1 turnovers a game. They force 15.6 turnovers a game on defense. The Tide averages 9.4 steals and 5.3 blocks a game.
Colorado guard Nate Tomlinson is doubtful for this game with a shoulder injury. He only scores around 3 points a game. The Buffaloes have four players averaging double digit scoring led by Guard Alec Burks. Burks is averaging 20.5 points to lead the team, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists to also lead the team, and 1.1 steal a game. Guard Cory Higgins averages 16.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1 steal a game. Levi Knutson averages 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1 assist a game. The top 3 scorers all shoot at least 82% from the free throw line. Forward Marcus Relphorde averages 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1 steal a game. Guard Andre Roberson leads the team in rebounds with 7.9, steals with 1.3 a game, and blocks with 1.1 a game. Colorado is outscoring opponents 80-74 on the season. The Buffs are shooting 47.5% from the field and 37.4% from 3 point range. Colorado opponents are shooting 44.6% from the field. The Buffaloes make 77.6% of their free throws. Colorado averages 36.1 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +2.9. The Buffs average 13.8 assists and 11.6 turnovers a game. They force 13.6 turnovers a game on defense. Colorado averages 6.8 steals and 2.9 blocks a game.
This is a true contrast in styles. Alabama has the 8th best scoring defense in the country allowing only 59 points a game while Colorado is #11 in scoring offense with 80 points a game. Traditionally, good defense trumps good offense, but Alabama can’t get into a shootout with Colroado. Whichever team can control the tempo will have a very good shot at winning. I don’t think Colorado matches-up well with the Tide in the halfcourt and will have to get most of their points in transistion. I think Alabama’s suffocating defense will be too much for the Buffaloes but it will be a close game that comes down to the wire.
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