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Alabama (-7) vs UCLA
The nervousness of grabbing a team at +2200 to make the Final Four then watch them get two games away really can get to you. No, I am not talking about UCLA, but Alabama. Back in November, I grabbed Alabama at +2200 to make the Final Four, the day the season started, and here we are.
You best believe I have the Crimson Tide winning this matchup and not just for the hope of my ticket cashing, but this is a favorable game for Alabama. I think there are two routes in playing this. The first, a player prop that catches my interest and the second, live betting the Tide as value on the live ML or spread.
So, Alabama leads the country with a 79% rim-and-3 rate, per ShotQuality. That means they shoot the ball inside the paint or a three-pointer nearly eight of every 10 shots. That leads to the player prop I like that stays around the rim constantly for the Tide.
Alabama's Herbert Jones has been a stud all season and once March began, his scoring has increased. Jones averaged 11.8 points on the season, but in the last three, he has averaged 13.0 and in the previous five, 13.4 points per game.
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His field goal attempts have increased as well, reaching 15, 16 and 18 field goal attempts in three of the last four. In the lone game he did not reach double-digit field goal attempts was versus Maryland.
Jones only recorded six points on 2-of-4 (50%) shooting in 21 minutes versus Maryland, but that was due to a blowout. In the other three games, Jones scored 13, 20 and 20 points versus LSU, Iona and Tennessee.
On a neutral court, Jones averages 13.2 points in 28.8 minutes. In his last three-of-four on a neutral court, he has played 34 or more minutes. In his eight games playing 34 or more minutes, Jones averages 14.2 points per game this season.
When he surpasses 30 minutes, which was 16 games, Jones averages 13.7 points per outing. Jones is projected to score 14.4 points in this matchup per NBC's player prop projections. Well over his 11.5 point total today.
UCLA should be able to stick around and make this competitive. NBC's model likes UCLA on the spread, but I question whether they can slow Alabama down. Bama has the third-fastest offensive average possession length in the nation (14.2) and it showed with 96 points versus Maryland.
The Crimson Tide scored 80 or more points in 19 games this season, going undefeated in those 19. Bama has recorded 80 or more points in four of eight games during its winning streak. In the last three games, there is certainly a difference between the two teams.
The Pac-12 is 9-1 SU and ATS in the tournament and UCLA is 3-0 SU and ATS after wins versus Michigan State, BYU and Abilene Christian. However, UCLA's three opponents went 13-of-54 (24%) from three. The Bruins have made either eight or nine triples on 18 attempts in three-straight games themselves.
In the Bruins' last two wins, they turned the ball over 12 times, while forcing 19 turnovers. Alabama has committed 24 turnovers and forced 23 in the previous two games. Based on the turnover game, I think UCLA can keep this close, but the Bruins have to convert on those turnovers.
So here is the bottom line: Alabama has the talent and I think they can roll UCLA today, but that does not mean they will. Alabama has the ability and offensive firepower to dig themselves out of holes and extend leads.
As you can see below, in three of the five games (Maryland, LSU, Tennessee), Alabama would have had great value to live bet. Of course, they came back and won all five as they are currently on an eight-game winning streak.
Last five games in SEC and NCAA Tournament trailing
Maryland led 14-7 at 14:44 in the first-half.
Iona led 11-8 at 15:23 in the first-half.
LSU led 60-56 at 10:11 in the second-half.
Tennessee led 48-33 at 16:56 in the second-half.
Mississippi State led 4-3 at 7:23 in the first-half.
I will live bet Alabama as soon as odds come down to +100 to -130 odds on the Money Line. I think that is the best value in this game and you could even get a discount on the spread if Bama trails at halftime.
Baylor was +105 on the Money Line at half yesterday at halftime and you could have grabbed -2.5 for +180 or better on most outlets. Arkansas also presented tremendous live value almost the entire game of its comeback versus Oral Roberts.
I parlayed Baylor and Alabama ML in yesterday's article and will get that live value on Bama again today. I would not play Alabama past -5.
The Crimson Tide have won by five or more in seven of the last eight games, but every game will have built up pressure. I will throw a small wager on Herbert Jones for half-a-unit and wait for the Alabama live value to pop up in the first-half.
Game Pick: Live Bet Alabama ML or spread up to -5, Herbert Jones Over 11.5 Points (0.5u)
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