A top-15 matchup in college basketball will close out the night of ranked teams in action on Saturday when the Houston Cougars and Alabama Crimson Tide tangle in Tuscaloosa. Both of these teams have just one loss on the year, and will look to keep it that way in a game that could really raise the ranking of the winner. But both teams will have to overcome some interesting scheduling for this contest, which could impact the way that both sides come out here.
Despite this game being played in Alabama, it has a 10:00 PM Eastern start time, which is 9:00 PM local time in Tuscaloosa. That is a late start for a game of this magnitude, and the impact that has on each side could be palpable. But more important than the start time will be how each team copes with their opposition in this game, as both of these teams have strengths that could take them deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Houston Cougars – Getting It Done On Defense
The Houston Cougars are 8-1 this season, with their lone loss coming against the Wisconsin Badgers in comeback fashion. Since then, the Cougars have won four straight games, all of which have come by 29 points or more. During that run, Houston beat Oregon by 29 points, beat Bryant 111-44, and has looked every bit like the team that made it to last year’s Final Four during the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
While the big offensive numbers against teams like Bryant are what stands out to most, it is the defense of the Cougars that has been the most impressive this season. They are allowing under 60 points per game for the season, even after playing some high-level programs like Wisconsin and Oregon. If they can lock down Alabama on defense here, the Cougars could get a win that would help vault them back into the top-10 in the nation.
Expected Line-Up: Kyler Edwards, Marcus Sasser, Jamal Shead, Fabian White Jr., Reggie Chaney
with best odds
Alabama Crimson Tide – A High-Powered Offense
Alabama is coming into this game against Houston after a full week off, with their last game coming last Saturday. That game was a blowout win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs, in one of the shocking results of the early portion of the college basketball season. Alabama is in the top-10 after that win, as they will look to extend their winning streak to four consecutive games if they can get the better of the Houston Cougars in this late tip off.
Offensive firepower has been the name of the game for Alabama, as the Crimson Tide has averaged over 86 points per game on the season. That firepower was what set them apart from Gonzaga, as Alabama caught fire from the perimeter to build an insurmountable lead there. But offense may not come as easy in this Houston Cougars vs. Alabama Crimson Tide matchup, as the Tide will know going into this game that they are facing an extremely formidable defensive squad.
Expected Line-Up: Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis, Charles Bediako, Juwan Gary
Expert Pick #1 – Alabama -2 @ -105
Our first bet for this non-conference gem is Alabama -2 at -105 odds. The Crimson Tide were not overvalued by the market after last weekend’s win over Gonzaga, which is a huge surprise, and this is an attackable point spread figure in their favor. The Tide should be able to use their superior offensive firepower to blow by the Cougars at home, with a hostile home crowd guiding them across the finish line.
Expert Pick #2 – Alabama to Win @ -125
The next bet to place here is the Alabama moneyline at -125 odds. If this does end up being a close game, it could be worth splitting the stake on Alabama between their moneyline price and the point spread. That way a one-point win for Alabama isn’t chalked up as a total loss when laying the two points.
Expert Pick #3 – Over 146 @ -110
Finally, the over 146 at -110 odds is a bet worth putting in for this intriguing contest. Alabama plays with a lot of pace, and should be able to get a lot of possessions out of the Houston Cougars. As we saw against Gonzaga, the Tide can really light it up from long range, and they should be able to help get this game over the total set by the books as long as there isn’t a disastrous shooting game by either team.
This has the potential to be the game of the weekend in college basketball. Alabama should come out of it with a win, as they are at home and riding a wave of momentum. Take the Crimson Tide and the over here as the best bets on Saturday night.