‘Bama looks like a live ‘dog tonight at Ole Miss

Published on Tuesday, 3/5/13, at 10:16 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

My 10-0 college hoops run came to an end last night with Cincinnati failing to cover the number as a 10.5-point underdog in a 67-51 loss at Louisville. The Bearcats, who trailed 35-31 at halftime after U of L’s Peyton Siva buried a deep buzzer-beating trey, were ahead of the number for the first 30 minutes and change.

However, a vintage Cincy scoring drought, one that entailed just two dunks and three free throws during a 10:38 stretch after the game was tied at the second half’s under-16 TV timeout, led to another loss.

I also had the ‘under’ (the 118 combined points fell below 122), which was a fortunate winner thanks to zero points in the last 2:21 of the game. The ‘under’ improved to an NCAA-best 19-4 overall in Cincy games.

Moving forward to tonight’s card, I think Alabama (19-10 straight up, 11-14 against the spread) looks like a live underdog in a critical SEC showdown against Ole Miss at The Tad Pad in Oxford. As of early this morning, most books had the Rebels installed as 4.5-point home favorites.

Both schools are on the bubble and in dire need of a victory. Anthony Grant’s squad has faced nine opponents who (like Ole Miss) are ranked between 50-100 in the RPI. The Crimson Tide is 7-2 straight up in those contests with the lone defeats coming at LSU in triple overtime and by one point at Tennessee.

Andy Kennedy’s team appears to be in the midst of another late-season collapse following Saturday’s inconceivable 73-67 loss at Mississippi St. The Bulldogs won outright as 12-point underdogs and hooked up money-line backers with a sick +650 payout (paid $650 on $100 wagers).

Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson had an abysmal shooting night at The Hump in Starkville, making only 4-of-19 shots from the field. In the Rebels’ last four games, Henderson has knocked down only 22-of-68 attempts (32%) from the field.

With physical and athletic guards, I think Alabama’s defense is going to force Henderson into difficult shots tonight. The fear you have with the Tide is if it can find enough offense.

Like Cincinnati, ‘Bama plays terrific defense but often struggles to get buckets. This is evident by the 18-5 overall record for the ‘under’ in the Tide’s games.

The main factor driving this play on Alabama is how it looked for 35 minutes Saturday at Florida. The Gators were at home and back at full strength health-wise, yet the Tide had an excellent shot at pulling the upset.

Ole Miss, the loser of six of its last 10 games, just isn’t playing quality basketball right now. I’m all over the Tide and I’ll call for the outright upset, too.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

Click here for my other picks on tonight’s card.

–Boise St. owns a 6-2 spread record in eight games as an underdog this year. The Broncos are 7.5-point ‘dogs tonight against UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas. BSU has covered the number at a 7-1 ATS clip in its last eight outings.

–Baylor is done after last night’s loss at Texas. Hello, NIT.

–Missouri fans will be pumped at home tonight vs. Arkansas. There’s the revenge factor from losing in Fayetteville (and not getting the benefit of some key calls down the stretch) two weeks ago, but it’s also the return of former coach Mike Anderson to Columbia for the first time. The Razorbacks can climb into the bubble picture with a road win as double-digit ‘dogs.

–What bubble team needs a win the most tonight? Too tough to call out of Akron, Iowa, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Alabama, Boise St., Southern Miss and Memphis. The Hawkeyes are four-point home favorites versus Illinois.

–Georgia will put its scalding hot 10-1 ATS run on the line Thursday night when it hosts Kentucky at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens. I’m hoping the ‘Cats will be favored because I think UGA is going to win this one outright.

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