Alabama vs Missouri Game Preview: Known mostly for its football program, Alabama, has been one of the best stories in college basketball this season, emerging as the frontrunners to win what is now a competitive Southeastern Conference (SEC).
On Saturday, the Tide could all but lock up the SEC regular season title with a road win against 18th ranked Missouri.
Two teams that began the season outside the AP top 25, Missouri and Bama both sit atop the conference standings, with the Tide being the lone unbeaten at 10-0.
As for Mizzou (12-3, 5-3), they are coming off a 5 point home win to Kentucky, 75-70, and have been one of the better surprises in college hoops this season.
Although both teams are ‘locks’ to make the NCAA tournament, Saturday’s game will go a long way in establishing both better seeding, and increased momentum for the postseason.
Head coach Nate Oats is in only his second season with Alabama, and has already left his imprint on this program, as the Tide have become a defensive powerhouse ever since he came to Tuscaloosa. Now with the offense to boot, this is a team that could find themselves making a deep run into late March and early April.
After coming off a pedestrian 16-15 season in 2020, Oats has quickly turned this thing around, due in large part to stupendous guard play from John Petty Jr. and Jaden Shackelford. The two are both averaging over 13 points per game, and have served as a buoy for this Bama offense.
Senior forward Herbert Jones has been a key contributor for Oats as well, further exemplifying the balance this team has on both sides of the ball.
The Tide were winners of 10 straight before seeing their streak snapped last Saturday to a pesky Oklahoma ball club, 66-61. However, it was nice to see the team bounce back just a few days later, comfortably knocking off LSU 78-60.
Looking to keep their conference record undefeated, expect a backyard brawl against defensive-minded Missouri this Saturday.
Missouri Looks for the Upset
As previously mentioned, Mizzou has been one of the surprise stories in college basketball this season, as many saw them as a potential bottom feeder in what was supposed to be a meager SEC conference.
The Tigers put those stories to bed quite quickly, recording early signature wins over Oregon, Wichita State, and Illinois back in December. These were huge resume builders for fourth year head coach Cuonzo Martin’s team, as they served as vital building blocks for their conference season.
Now second in the SEC, Mizzou finds themselves ranked in the top 20 as we head down the stretch of the regular season.
The keys to victory for this Missouri team is simple — slow the game down and get to the foul line — something they have cut their teeth doing all season long. They are top 15 in both free throw attempts and makes, which helps cover some of their blemishes offensively.
Forward Jeremiah Tilmon and guards Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith must pave the way on offense, as all three average over 13 points per game, with Pinson leading the team at 15.1.
Smith has been their lone sharp shooter from 3 point range, averaging an admirable 40% from deep, while Tilmon has been the main low post threat — shooting 65% from the field to go along with a team-high 7.9 rebounds.
This game will surely serve as an important barometer for this Missouri bunch, as this contest may decide who’s the team to beat in the SEC.
Alabama vs Missouri Game Preview: The Prediction
The Tide will face arguably their biggest road test of the season on Saturday in Columbia, and I believe they will get the best of the Tigers this time around, as John Petty Jr. will score a game-high 22 points to defeat Missouri, 72-66.
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