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Most fans might associate the “Iron Bowl” more with Alabama and Auburn’s college football rivalry, but make no mistake: the basketball rivalry between these two teams is substantial, too.
The two top-25 rivals face off in a battle for bragging rights and positioning atop the conference standings. This game could be a huge variable in which team wins the SEC regular season title, considering the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers are currently in first and third place, respectively!
This iteration of the rivalry will take place at Neville Arena (formerly Auburn Arena) and will almost certainly catapult the winner into, or just outside of, the top ten in the A.P. Poll. Find our Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers prediction, betting odds, and best betting picks below!
Despite losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide by four points on the road earlier this season, the Auburn Tigers enter this rivalry game as 5.5-point favorites. The point total for this matchup has crept up to 163.5 points, with the Over and Under both holding odds of -110. Moneyline odds were not available on BetMGM for Auburn or Alabama when this article was written, so stay tuned for when those drops, likely sometime on Wednesday morning or afternoon.
|Alabama Crimson Tide
|Over 163.5 (-110)
|Under 163.5 (-110)
Odds from BetMGM Sportsbook. Use our BetMGM promo code WSNMGM - bet $5, get $158 in bonus bets.
Round one of this historic in-state rivalry went to the Alabama Crimson Tide and their high-octane offense. The Tide secured a narrow four-point home win despite a Johni Broome masterclass; he finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds in just over 25 minutes of play.
Alabama got off to a hot start, leading by 14 points at the half due to Mark Sears and Rylan Griffen’s hot start offensively, but it narrowly lost its double-digit lead when the Tigers stormed back in the second half. The Crimson Tide have certainly been known this season for fast-paced play (17th in adjusted tempo), and with that can come many momentum swings throughout the game.
Even though Alabama lost a massive amount of talent from last year’s team, including Brandon Miller (second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft), Noah Clowney (first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft), Jahvon Quinerly (transferred to Memphis), Charles Bediako (NBA), and Jaden Bradley (transferred to Arizona), head coach Nate Oats found a way to build around his returners and create an offense that would be exceptionally challenging to stop.
Oats brought back Mark Sears and Rylan Griffen, two shifty guards who are elite shooting talents, and then signed 6-foot-11 unicorn forward Grant Nelson (North Dakota State), sharpshooting guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. (Cal State Fullerton), and fifth-year senior guard Aaron Estrada (Hofstra) in the transfer portal. These five players make up one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, as every player can shoot, dribble, and create for one another.
Alabama sits at seventh in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin behind the second-most efficient offense in the country. The Crimson Tide have shot 38.2% from deep (16th nationally) and 79.1% from the free-throw line (fourth nationally), and they have the third-highest effective field goal percentage this season. Further, they are an excellent rebounding team (28th in total rebounding rate) despite oftentimes deploying smaller guard lineups. Defense, turnovers, and fouls are the biggest weaknesses for this squad.
In the preseason, the media wasn’t too high on the Auburn Tigers; it projected that they would finish sixth in the SEC, yet they are the No. 12 team in the nation and hang in fifth in KenPom’s adjEM. The Tigers are led by the forward duo of Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams, while Dylan Cardwell, K.D. Johnson, and Tre Donaldson are all key returners from last season’s squad. Head coach Bruce Pearl also snagged some solid portal talent, including Denver Jones (FIU) and Chad Baker-Mazara (San Diego State), and he also signed a five-star freshman point guard in Aden Holloway. Pearl has found a perfect balance between returners, newcomers, youth, and experience.
Auburn’s offensive attack is strong, but its defense is special. As mentioned above, the Tigers are fifth in adjusted defensive efficiency but also rank second in opponent effective field goal percentage (behind only Houston) and 18th in opponent 3P%. Further, Auburn forces 15 turnovers per game on its home floor!
Still, Auburn has stumbled a bit in its past few games, going 2-2 with road losses to Mississippi State and Alabama. The Tigers will face an Alabama team that has won ten of their past 11 games, with the only blip coming against the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers on the road. Can the Tigers even the season series at 1-1 with a home win here? Take a look below!
The Alabama Crimson Tide present a few red flags as a team on the road. First, Alabama shoots nine percent worse (33.2%) on the road than they do at home and scores 11 fewer points. While shooting efficiency and overall scoring are expected to dip in enemy territory, these are concerning differentials.
A recent example of Alabama’s shooting woes from deep on the road was in its game against Tennessee, a similarly stout defense (to Auburn.). The Crimson Tide finished shooting just 4-for-19 from behind the arc, failing to generate any real semblance of offensive momentum on their way to just 71 points, which is not a lot given their style of play. Even in their last matchup against Auburn, they shot just 38% from the floor at home, and we can expect them to struggle even more on the road. No more clean threes or free dunks!
Additionally, Johni Broome has a major matchup advantage against Alabama. Sure, Rylan Griffen knocked down five of his ten three-point attempts, and Mark Sears had a massive 22/8/5 line, but Broome was completely unstoppable, posting 25 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks. He should have no problem utilizing his skill set and footwork to slip through and around this defense for buckets.
Lastly, this is a revenge game. Auburn is a more well-rounded team and has been utterly dominant on its own floor this year, winning all 11 of its home games. Expect a close game, but the Tigers should pull away in the end.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers pick: Auburn Tigers -5.5 at BetMGM.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 7 @ 4:00/7:00 p.m. PT/ET
Where: Neville Arena, Auburn, AL
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Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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