Alabama vs. Georgia Expert Pick and Prediction – January 31, 2024
ALABAMA VS. GEORGIA EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 31, 2024 — Mention Alabama vs. Georgia in December, and you’ve got visions of two of the best teams on the gridiron. On the hardwood, however, it’s been only one side showing up.
Alabama has done its part under Nate Oats, becoming one of the powers of the SEC. The Crimson Tide aren’t to the level that Nick Saban reached, but they haven’t been worse than a No. 6 seed under Oats. With just one bad loss on the resume (and it’s not even that bad, a neutral-floor loss to Ohio State), there’s little doubt Alabama will be a factor in March again.
Georgia, however, has long been an afterthought. The Bulldogs have more football national championships (two) than official NCAA tournament wins (one) in the past 30 years, and they haven’t even sniffed the NIT since 2017. And yet, Georgia is starting to make progress toward becoming a solid basketball team.
The Dawgs have taken three SEC losses, but none have been bad, as they’ve lost at Florida and Kentucky and fell at home to Tennessee. Otherwise, they’ve played solidly, earning a 14-6 mark that has them in the conversation. They don’t have a signature win on the profile yet, which is why most brackets have the Dawgs on the wrong side of the cut line.
But unlike some of its bubble rivals, Georgia will have opportunities. As long as Georgia doesn’t lose to either Vanderbilt or Arkansas, it will finish the season without a bad loss on its resume. That means a win over a team like Alabama could be the boost the Dawgs need to end the drought — and there’s no better chance to get it than at home.
(14-6 SU, 11-8-1 ATS)
(14-6 SU, 10-9-1 ATS)
When: Wednesday, January 31 at 6:30 p.m. EST
Where: Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.
TV: SEC Network
Public Bets: 80% on Georgia
Public Money: 64% on Alabama
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 30th, 2024.
Alabama vs. Georgia In-Season Trends
Georgia’s ATS numbers don’t show it, but the Bulldogs have become experts at covers in SEC play. They started the season unable to cover against lesser squads, but as the axis has shifted to them getting points, they’ve been an excellent bet. The Dawgs are 6-1 ATS in SEC play, with the only failed cover being a two-point escape against LSU.
Alabama’s defense hasn’t traveled well at all. The Tide’s best defensive showing in a true road game was giving up 74 to Mississippi State. Besides Mississippi State, Vanderbilt’s the only other team to host the Tide and put fewer than 80 on the board. Yet the opposite is true for Georgia: the Dawgs usually don’t let their guests get near that number. In 12 games at Stegeman Coliseum, only Tennessee and Mount St. Mary’s have hit the 80-point mark.
Someone needs to give Mark Sears some help. The last time the Crimson Tide went on the road, their shooting disappeared outside of Sears, who ended up doing most of the work. Alabama shot 4-for-21 from behind the arc, leaving only Sears, who doesn’t shoot a lot of 3’s, to pick up the slack. As you might expect given that situation, the Tide lost by 20 at Tennessee. Given that Georgia’s 3-point defense is one of its biggest strengths, Alabama has to do a better job finding and hitting shots.
RJ Melendez proved instrumental in Georgia almost overcoming a 21-point deficit against Florida, scoring 35 points to fuel the comeback. But he’s usually only scoring around 10 to 12 points per game, and that lack of consistency isn’t helping Georgia’s efforts. The Dawgs need a stronger start to this game, and getting a more consistent effort from Melendez would help.
This line looks to be right on the cusp of whether or not it’s got value. Given that Georgia excels at covering spreads in SEC play and Alabama has struggled on the road, I really don’t feel comfortable laying points with the Tide. However, I don’t love the number where it is, and I’d rather get on the other side of three possessions.
Instead, my top play will be the total. Alabama tends not to shoot well away from Tuscaloosa, and Georgia’s defense has played well in Athens. The pace will be frenetic, but 166.5 is tough to reach even when things are going well for the offenses. I’m taking the Dawgs to stick around and slow down the Tide’s shooters.