College Basketball Game of the Week: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
This Saturday, the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to Norman to take on the No. 24 Oklahoma Sooners in this year's installment of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Tipoff is set for noon as these two schools, usually noted for their football prowess, will face each other on the court for the first time since 2011.
This will be the fifth matchup between the two teams since they first met back in 1976. In those four games, they’ve split the series 2-2. The last time they faced each other, the Tide beat the Sooners 69-52.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma came away with a close but impressive win over No. 5 Texas. The Sooners, which started out slow, turned it on in the second half. Senior guard Austin Reaves was the key piece, leading the way with 23 points. Texas did mount a comeback at the end, but Reaves’ clutch free throws put the game on ice, and the Sooners won 80-79.
The Sooners are looking to elevate themselves from their average past couple seasons to a top team in the nation when the tournament starts. Two top-10 wins in the same week would say a lot about this Oklahoma team, which has been mediocre since its last Final Four appearance back in 2016.
As for Alabama, this will be the Tide’s biggest test of the season to date. Their only ranked win of the year came against then-No. 7 Tennessee, a game Alabama won 71-63. Perhaps the hottest teams in college basketball, the Crimson Tide have not lost since Dec. 19. Since that loss, they have won 10 in a row and have done so in convincing fashion nearly every game.
Alabama, whose No. 9 ranking is its highest since 2006, definitely has something to prove in this game. As a program, Alabama has been ranked just twice in the past ten 10, reaching the tournament twice as well. This season could be a turning point for this Alabama team, which has been nearly irrelevant in the SEC for the past decade.
The matchup on Saturday is shaping up to be one of the best games of the regular season. Two of the hottest teams in college basketball will face off in a late-season out-of-conference game—games which have become rarer in this age of the pandemic.
It should certainly be a close battle and may come down to which team can simply out-shoot the other, as these are two-high powered offenses.
Vegas likes Oklahoma (-1.5) in this one, and the oddsmakers are right to do so. The Sooners will come out on top, but Alabama and John Petty Jr. will put up a good fight.
Prediction: Oklahoma 74, Alabama 71
Charlie Murray is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email email@example.com.
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