Three predictions for Vanderbilt-Alabama

Rylan Griffen
Guard Rylan Griffen (Photo: Stuart McNair, 247Sports)

Three predictions for fourth-seeded Alabama (18-3, 8-0 in SEC) in his matchup with Vanderbilt (10-11, 3-5) Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. CT/SEC Network) at the Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama will not concede a double-double to a post

Primary post options for the two opponents the Crimson Tide faced last week combined averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

First it was Tolu Smith of Mississippi, who scored 15 points and seven boards in the Bulldogs’ 66-63 loss in Tuscaloosa last Tuesday. It was followed by Oklahoma’s tanning groveswho went for 14 and 12 in the Sooners’ 93-69 shellacking against UA on Saturday.

Like UA and Vanderbilt’s first clash this season, the Crimson Tide could see nothing Liam Robbin (Ankle), the 7-foot center of the Commodores, tomorrow night. Robbins, who leads Vandy in points (13.2) and rebounds (5.9), has missed the last four contests.

The Commodores have lost three games during Robbin’s recent absence, a stretch that began with UA’s 78-66 win at Memorial Gymnasium two Tuesdays ago. With Robbins outside, his running mate on the block, 6-foot-10 Quentin Millora Brownscored just two points and two rebounds while fouling in 15 minutes of action.

Robbins scored 16 points in his first encounter with Alabama a season ago before being eliminated in a matchup against the Crimson Tide in the SEC tournament.

The Crimson Tide will make more than 30 percent of its 3s

It was a tough stretch from the deep for UA. In the last four games, the Crimson Tide has made 29 of their 115 3-point attempts (25 percent). A bright spot during the stretch was the freshman shooting guard’s play Rylan Griffenwho put down nine of 20 shots from behind the arc in games against Vanderbilt, Missouri, Mississippi State and Oklahoma.

Despite its collective struggles from the periphery, Alabama managed to win three of those contests. In fact, the loss at OU marked the first time this season that UA dropped a game in which it didn’t shoot 30 percent or better from 3. Even in last Saturday’s loss, the bigger problem for the Crimson Tide had to do with an imperfect storm of disinterest on the defensive side and an off-field stoker for an Oklahoma team that was in a deep freeze on the offensive side.

Last season, UA went 6-6 in games against SEC opponents where it stayed close to 30 percent in 3s. Keep this stat in mind the next time the “Alabama lost because it didn’t make its 3s” tale rolls off the tongue, without considering the possibility that a team’s makeup can change significantly from year to year.

They’re telling me that 3’s make the team better – any Team – Odds of Winning? I wish I had thought of that sooner. Jokes aside, the narration for This Team might as well be that if they’re defending, rebounding and getting (and converting) the line at the level they’re capable of, 3’s efficiency isn’t that important. There’s also an earth-shattering analysis, isn’t it?

It will be interesting to see how UA adapts to the way opponents play the Crimson Tide’s high-ball screen action. As much as Nate Hafer don’t like the mid-range game if teams want to essentially give them up, more 12-15 footers of people as required could be Markus Sears, Jaden Bradley and Jahvon Quinerly down the track.

UA will not be seven or more points down at halftime

But after seeing it outperform both Mississippi State and OU at the break, the Crimson Tide may have dropped by six.

Seriously, you don’t need to get overly analytical about what happened in Norman. Perhaps KenPom has a stat for engagement and energy at the defensive end of the floor. If so, it probably didn’t bode well for UA after being torched for 93 points by a team that ended up at the bottom of the Big 12 stats in scoring. Also credit the Sooners for making just about everything they looked at, even when Alabama had a defender in position.

The questions at the start of this game are as follows: How much energy and commitment will the Crimson Tide muster from opening tip against an opponent who is playing for their lives post-season? Looking at the two “Its”, could Oats shake things up a bit in terms of rotation?

No drama yet for a team undefeated in the SEC game. But with the worst performance of the season in the immediate wake and season-defining games on the not-too-distant horizon, certainly more in the intrigue sense.

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Contact Travis Reier via personal message or on Twitter (@travisreier).