The Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans will hook up on Thanksgiving Day as part of Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, OR.
The two top-25 teams are scheduled to tip-off at 10:30 PM EST at Moda Center at the Rose Garden and will be broadcast on ESPN. Alabama is a (-4) favorite in this matchup, with the total set at 145 points.
The Crimson Tide enter the game with a perfect 4-0 record on the season and most recently demolished Jacksonville State by 42 points in a 104-62 blowout in Tuscaloosa. While the margin of victory is certainly notable, the biggest story of the game is that starting point guard Jahvon Quinerly was able to play significant minutes.
Quinerly, a senior, averaged roughly 14 points and four assists last season but tore his ACL during last season’s NCAA Tournament. He was originally scheduled to return around the beginning of conference play but has appeared in the Tide’s last two contests.
The Spartans of Michigan State have been arguably the biggest surprise of the season thus far. Tom Izzo’s group entered the season unranked in the preseason AP Top 25, but after narrowly losing to Gonzaga and then defeating Kentucky and Villanova, the Spartans find themselves back in the week three rankings.
Oddly enough, this will be the first meeting between the two powerhouse programs since 1998 and only the third meeting in their history. The programs have split the series 1-1, with the Spartans winning the most recent matchup 75-58 behind future NBA plates Morris Peterson, Mateen Cleaves, and Charlie Bell.
Alabama Crimson Tide Overview
Despite heavy losses from last season’s team, the Crimson Tide once again have high expectations on the season. Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis, and JD Davison are all no longer with the program, but under Nate Oats, Alabama doesn’t rebuild; they reload.
Oats brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the entire nation for the 2022-23 season, along with some other players, and the dividends have paid immediately. Brandon Miller, the 11th-ranked player in the 2022 class, is averaging over 20 points per game thus far, while fell freshmen Ryan Griffen, Jaden Bradley, and Noah Clowney are combining for roughly 26 points, 18 rebounds, and three steals per game. Clowney also leads the team with 1.8 blocks per game.
Nimari Burnett, a one time five star recruit headed to Texas Tech, also returns for the Tide. Burnett missed all of last season with an injury but is back and averaging 9.3 points per game while shooting 37.5 from deep. Mark Sears, a transfer from Ohio that averaged nearly 20 points per game last season, has joined the program and is second on the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game.
Through four games, Alabama is second in the SEC with a 3-1 record against the spread. They lead the conference in margin of victory at +27.3 points per game as well as performance against the spread. The Tide are covering the number by an incredible +13.1 points per game on the young season but have gone over the total in just two of their four games.
Michigan State Spartans Overview
Tom Izzo entered the season outside of the preseason top 25 for the second season in a row and, for the second season in a row, quickly showed that it was a mistake.
The Spartans took a top-five Gonzaga team to the brink before falling by a single point before defeating Kentucky in double overtime. They followed that up with a victory over Villanova and currently boast a 3-1 record on the season despite having played three teams with in the top 35 of Kenpom.
The Spartans are led by Joey Hauser (14.0 ppg), Tyson Walker (13.5 ppg), and Malik Hall (12.0 ppg) and supported by a large cast of role players.
While this Michigan State team is not driven by a ton of star power, they boast a roster of players that play well together and know their roles. Izzo currently has four other players on the roster averaging between 6.0 and 9.8 points per game.
As a team, Michigan State is shooting 36.8% from behind the arc. That number is not exactly out of this world, but when you factor in that the Spartans hold opponents to just 26.5%, it looks a whole lot better.
The Spartans are just 2-2 against the number on the season while boasting a margin of victory of +7.0 points per game. They have also split the over/under at two games apiece.
Alabama vs. Michigan State Prediction
This is a tough game, as Alabama has the talent while Michigan State has the experience. Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches to ever haunt a college basketball sideline, while Nate Oats is arguably the best coach under 50 in the nation.
In situations such as this, go with experience. Tyson Walker has been playing fantastic basketball over the last three games, and Mady Sissoko seems to play even better with every passing game.
Sissoko has already squared up with some of the best big men in the nation in Oscar Tshiebwe, Drew Timme, and Eric Dixon, this season and more than held his own.