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ANTHONY GRANT’S ALABAMA TEAM IS 3RD IN THE NATION IN FG PCT. DEFENSE (38.3%).
Wed, 27 Apr 2011 02:34 PM EDT

#1 seed ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (24-11)

vs. #1 seed COLORADO BUFFALOES (24-13)

NIT – Semifinals
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. EDT – New York, NY
Line: Alabama -2, Total: 142.5

Should we really be surprised to find Alabama and Colorado in the NIT semifinals? On Selection Sunday it was the consensus of “experts” everywhere that Colorado was more than deserving of being in the big dance, many of those same “experts” believed that Alabama should have certainly been in the field ahead of the teams that were chosen for the NCAA play-in games (especially that team from that school, what’s the name? VC…Virginia Common…oh whatever they were called). Anyways, as opposed to that other tournament and its field of 68, here in the NIT, No. 1 seeds do what they’re supposed to do. In the proud tradition of Charlie Sheen, Alabama and Colorado are still WINNING, and that explains why they are in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. In a sense by extending their respective seasons this long, they’re proving the people who doubted them AND the people who believed in them that they were two teams deserving of NCAA consideration. Basketball scores.

For the Crimson Tide, the biggest adjustment they’ll have to get used to is playing an NIT game someplace besides Coleman Coliseum, where they won all three previous games to advance to the semifinals. Alabama advanced by giving its three opponents a heavy dose of what it does best: play defense. In defeating Coastal Carolina, New Mexico and Miami, the Tide gave up an average of 58.3 PPG, and won the games by an average margin of victory of 15.3 points. The team allowed Coastal Carolina to shoot 33.3%, held New Mexico to 37.9%, and Miami to 40.4%. Those numbers are not far off from the 38.3% they allow opponents to shoot this year, ranking them third-best in FG Pct. defense in Division I. Playing shutdown defense is very important for an Alabama team that only averages 67.3 PPG (215th-best in Division I). Fortunately the Tide are averaging 73.7 PPG in NIT play, taking some of the pressure off their defense to be “shutdown” defense every night. The Tide needs to get one of their top scorers, JaMychal Green, going again. Green (15.4 PPG) is only averaging 9.7 PPG in NIT play, and has not taken more than eight shots in any of those games. Fortunately guard Trevor Releford (11.0 PPG) has picked up the slack, scoring a team-high 22 in the win over Miami, and adding 20 in the victory over New Mexico. Also helping to pick up the slack against New Mexico is Tony Mitchell (15.5 PPG) who had a team-high 23 versus the Lobos and is averaging 17.0 PPG on 56% FG (18-of-32) in the NIT. Basketball odds.

Colorado has been doing exactly what it was doing during the regular season and then some, running, gunning, scoring, and winning. The Buffaloes average 80.1 PPG (11th-best in Division I) for the season, which has been helped by 86.0 PPG in defeating Texas Southern, California, and Kent State by an average of 12.7 PPG in the NIT. Like Alabama, Colorado has played all three of its tournament games at home in Boulder. Top scorer Alec Burks (20.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG) has taken it to another level in the tournament, posting 27 points and seven boards against Texas Southern, 25 and six against California, and 25 with 10 boards in the victory over Kent State. Cory Higgins (16.1 PPG) hasn’t been a slouch either, posting 25 against Texas Southern and 22 over California. Burks and Higgins lead a Buffaloes attack that has four players scoring in double figures, as Levi Knutson averages 11.6 PPG and Marcus Relphorde scores 11.4 PPG. Meanwhile on the defensive end, top rebounder Andre Roberson (7.9 RPG) has to settle for getting his touches by cleaning the glass. In the victory over Kent State, he had 13 points and 12 boards, his fifth double-double of the season.

Although Alabama is just 1-4 (SU and ATS) on a neutral court, it is 12-3 ATS (80%) on 3+ days of rest and 12-4 ATS (75%) after an ATS win this season. Colorado is just 6-10 ATS (38%) away from home this year and 6-12 ATS (33%) with 3+ days of rest. With Alabama’s defensive prowess against Colorado’s offensive juggernaut, this game sets up as a classic matchup of contrasting styles. Because defense, as opposed to offense, almost always travels well, we like Alabama to cover the spread in this contest. The following four FoxSheets trends support this conclusion.

ALABAMA is 11-1 ATS (91.7%, +9.9 Units) when playing only its 2nd game in 8 days this season. The average score was ALABAMA 72.2, OPPONENT 57.9 – (Rating = 4*).

ALABAMA is 11-1 ATS (91.7%, +9.9 Units) after one or more consecutive overs this season. The average score was ALABAMA 69.3, OPPONENT 55.3 – (Rating = 4*).

COLORADO is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) in road games after playing a game as a home favorite this season. The average score was COLORADO 71.7, OPPONENT 84.0 – (Rating = 2*). Basketball spreads.

ALABAMA is 14-4 ATS (77.8%, +9.6 Units) versus poor pressure defensive teams – forcing <=14 turnovers/game this season. The average score was ALABAMA 69.1, OPPONENT 60.6 – (Rating = 2*).


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