Two weeks ago, the Kentucky Wildcats beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Even though it was one of Alabama Basketball’s all-time worst shooting performances, the Cats only won by 11 points, 66-55.
The quick repeat game in Lexington is one in which no algorithm, and no college basketball pundit, predict the Crimson Tide will win.
The analytics and the sharp minds are ‘probably’ correct. One reason Kentucky should win is the Cats are coming off a blowout loss to their hated rival, Tennessee. It is hard to remember a Kentucky team that was as physically dominated by an SEC opponent. So the Tide catches the Cats at a bad time.
There are potential counterbalancing factors. Those factors are numerous enough to predict the Crimson Tide will pull off an upset victory.
Six reasons Alabama Basketball beats Kentucky
- Kentucky is not as good without TyTy Washington. Washington’s status for Saturday has not been disclosed. Instead, the cagey, John Calipari said his Cats could be down “two or three” players. A hunch is Calipari will not again risk an aggravated injury to Washington. The other two Cats, Sahvir Wheeler and Jacob Toppin should play. Without Washington, the Cats may not be able to score more than the low 70s.
- Alabama will score at least in the low to mid-70s because it will not again shoot 28.2% overall and 10% outside the arc. The Cats defense is good, but not good enough to hold down the Tide again.
- Among individual Tide shooters, Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackelford will not be a combined 4-for-22, including 0-for-10 on threes., as they were in Tuscaloosa.
- An improving Charles Bediako (if he stays out of foul trouble) will again cause problems for Oscar Tshiebwe. The Cats inside force got 15 rebounds in Coleman, but only scored 10 points.
- The Crimson Tide outrebounded the Cats 47-44 in Tuscaloosa. The Tide missed so many threes, it had added opportunities for offensive rebounds and it got 16, compared to the Cats only pulling down 10 off the offensive glass. The final rebound numbers will likely be close in Lexington but the Cats will not gain a big advantage.
- Over the last couple of weeks, Nate Oats has talked about better shot selection outside the arc. In the Nate Oats’ system, Alabama will never be shy about shooting threes, but maybe behind Oats’ message has come some reining in of a couple of players. Against the Cats, Juwan Gary and James Rojas were a combined 0-for-6. That is too many wasted possessions for a tight game.
A counter fact against a Tide upset is the Crimson Tide has never won back-to-back games in Lexington and the Tide won 85-65 in Rupp last season.