College Basketball Preview: No. 13 LSU (+4) at Alabama

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2022 SEC Men's Basketball: LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jan 19, 2022, 12:16 PM

Once the calendar hits mid-January, online sportsbook veterans know the SEC drama has shifted from Saturday afternoons to Wednesday evenings.

There’s lots of focus this week on the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, as well as the NFL betting opportunities that are downstream of that. The first game – Bengals (+3.5) at Titans – kicks off Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. EST. 

Alas, I can’t make the clocks tick any faster. All I can do is get my football bets in, then look for other opportunities elsewhere.

Fortunately, I’m tracking some interesting line movement in the world of college basketball betting.

College Basketball Betting Preview: No. 13 LSU (+4) at Alabama

In case you’re a late arrival to this year’s college basketball betting slate, let’s get you caught up on the pretext of Wednesday evening’s game. LSU and Alabama are two squads whose paths have gone in completely opposite directions this year.

Alabama entered the 2021-22 season fresh off a Sweet 16 appearance, replete with a No. 14 ranking in the preseason AP Poll.

LSU, by contrast, received 7 total votes in the poll – the same number as Belmont.

But once the games started playing out, it was the Tigers that looked like an SEC contender. Alabama struggled in early outings against teams with NET rankings outside the top 100 like Drake and South Alabama. 

The Tide (11-6) ultimately suffered non-conference losses to Iona, Memphis and Davidson.

On the other hand, LSU (15-2) reached its Dec. 29 SEC conference opener at Auburn with an unblemished 12-0 record, covering 10 of the 12. 

Now three weeks into conference play, the roles for each team have fully swapped. LSU is considered a top-15 team in the mix for a high seed in March, while Alabama has been relegated to the middle of the pack in a highly competitive conference. 

With LSU coming off a home loss to Arkansas, Wednesday night’s game in Tuscaloosa looks – on paper, at least – to be a prime buy-low spot to back the Tigers. Alabama has lost three of its last four games and is struggling to keep pace in an SEC that has uncharacteristically strong depth this season.

 

College Basketball Odds: How to Bet LSU (+4) at Alabama

Despite how good LSU looks at a glance, there is a big warning sign for those experienced in online sports betting. If you take a deeper look at tonight’s college basketball odds, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

Unranked Alabama opened as a 2.5-point favorite over LSU, spurring a queue of heavy public action on the Tigers as an underdog. Nearly 80 percent of point spread bettors are backing LSU.

The problem is that the Crimson Tide’s favorite status has edged up from Alabama -2.5 to Alabama -4, in spite of the heavy public action. Reverse line movement like this – especially when favoring an unpopular favorite – is a clear sign of sharp play.

The splits are even more dramatic in the money line market, where 74 percent of tickets are on LSU +145, but 63 percent of the overall handle is on Alabama -175. 

Alabama hasn’t done much to earn the confidence of college basketball bettors, but the RLM and ticket/handle splits here are pretty clear. LSU is a square public dog in Wednesday night’s game. The right side is probably Alabama -4. 

Lean: Alabama -4

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.