#6 Alabama vs #20 Arkansas Road to March Madness

#6 Alabama vs #20 Arkansas Road to March Madness | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on February 23, 2021

No. 6 Alabama can clinch no worse than a share of the SEC regular-season title with a win at No. 20 Arkansas on Wednesday, but the Hogs are also playing terrific basketball. The Tide should be a very slight favorite on the NCAAB odds. To win a national title, Bama is +2200 and Arkansas +8000.

How to Bet Alabama at Arkansas NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

On Jan. 16 in Tuscaloosa, the Tide destroyed the Razorbacks 90-59. John Petty Jr. had 17 points and became the school’s all-time three-point leader. Jaden Shackelford added 16 points and Herbert Jones had 13 for Alabama. Six players scored off the bench for the Tide, led by Juwan Gary’s nine points. Freshman Moses Moody scored a career-best 28 points and had nine rebounds to lead Arkansas. Moody scored 14 of the Razorbacks’ 19 points in first half. It was the lowest scoring output for Arkansas since an 18-point first half against Vanderbilt on Feb. 7, 2017. The Razorbacks shot 6 of 26 (23%) from the floor and had 12 of their 18 turnovers in the half.

Why Bet on Alabama? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Bama won its third in a row Saturday, 82-78 over Vanderbilt. The Commodores held a two-point lead late before Alabama scored seven quick points to regain control 70-65 with 4:21 to play. About a minute later, Scotty Pippen Jr. sank 2 of 3 free throws to cut the score to 71-68.

Jahvon Quinerly’s 3 with 2:09 remaining gave the Crimson Tide some breathing room at 76-70. Maxwell Evans Vandy alive with a triple that made it 77-73 with 41 seconds to play. A Pippen steal then gave Vanderbilt a chance to get even closer – but a Pippen 3 was no good and Alabama made its free throws down the stretch to survive.

The win improved the Crimson Tide to 18-5 overall and 13-1 in Southeastern Conference and put UA’s magic number to clinch at least a share of its first SEC regular season championship at one game. Bama hasn’t won even a share of the SEC title in 19 years. The last time UA was ranked inside the AP Top-10 in the month of February came in 2002. That year, UA was ranked as high as No. 5 in the month of February on its way to claiming the SEC regular season title.

The Crimson Tide were led by guard Jaden Shackelford’s season-best 27 points in the contest. Guard Jahvon Quinerly remained hot with 15 points and three assists, while forward Alex Reese added 10 points and a team-leading plus/minus of +23 in the victory.

Shackelford and Quinerly combined to score 43 of the Tide’s season high 57 points off the bench, outscoring the Commodores by 47 in the statistic (57-10).

The Tide own a record of 13-1 this season when knocking down at least 10 three-pointers in a game, with the lone loss coming at then-No. 24 Oklahoma (went 10-of-28 in the 66-61 loss). Bama boasts a perfect 12-0 record when it attempts at least 30 threes in a contest

Why Bet on Arkansas? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Hogs (17-5) won their fourth in a row last Tuesday, 75-64 over visiting Florida. The Gators rallied from 15 points down in the second half to take the lead with more than four minutes to go. However, freshman guard Devonte Davis scored a game-high 18 points for the Razorbacks, including a steal and run-out, lead-retaking layup with 3:25 to go and the home team finished things off from there by forcing the Gators to miss their last six shots, mixed with a trio of turnovers.

“The big key was when that thing was 61-62, we did a really good job of locking in defensively, being a little bit more disciplined,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “Florida can really, really score the basketball.”

Davis led all scorers with those 18 points while Justin Smith continued to excel since returning from an injury. The graduate senior had 15 points (7-of-9 shooting) with six rebounds, two blocked shots, a career-high five steals and a career-high (tied) four assists.

The key to the game was Arkansas’ 3-point defense. After allowing 27 triples in the last two games combined, the Razorbacks held the SEC’s league leader in 3-point percentage to just 19% (4-of-21) from long range. (Florida was shooting 37.5% from distance entering the game to rank 41st in the NCAA.)

The seven-game SEC win streak is the best by Arkansas since Feb. 2015. Arkansas also won seven straight to close the 1994-95 season. (The program’s best SEC win streak is 11 games to close the 1993-94 season.)

Arkansas’ win as the 24th-ranked team in the nation versus Florida was the Razorbacks’ first as a ranked team since the then #21 Hogs beat Wofford (Mar. 19) in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. In 7-of-the-last-8 games, Arkansas shot over 43 percent from the field each time and has combined to shoot 47.8% (210-439) in those seven contests.

Arkansas was supposed to play Saturday at Texas A&M but it was postponed.

Expert Prediction

  • Arkansas 78, Alabama 77

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