Where: Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri
Game time: 1 p.m. EST on March 10, 2018
TV Channel: ESPN
Tickets: Tickets for the SEC Tournament are on sale at Ticketmaster.com.
Odds: UK opened as a 5-point favorite. KenPom projects UK to be 3.5-point favorites.
Prediction: ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is giving the Wildcats a 63.5% chance of victory. KenPom gives UK a 62-percent chance of winning and projects a 73-70 win for the Cats.
The Wildcats and the Tide will face off in St. Louis tomorrow at noon, with the winner advancing to the SEC Tournament game.
The Wildcats are fresh off a 62-49 win over the Georgia Bulldogs Friday afternoon, in which Kentucky was able to pull away in the second half on an impressive defensive effort. Alabama may have the most momentum of any team left in the field right now, after a buzzer-beater win over Texas A&M on Thursday and an 81-63 victory over the top-seeded Auburn Tigers on Friday, a game in which the Tide outscored the Tigers 50-22 in the second half after going into the break trailing by 10.
Saturday’s game will be a rematch of the game that took place at Rupp Arena back on Feb. 17 in which Kentucky won 81-71. Kentucky held Alabama star PG Collin Sexton in check during that game, as Sexton was only 4-11 from the field for 12 points and only had 2 assists.
Kentucky will need to have a similar defensive effort against Sexton this time around, but that task seems a lot taller as Sexton has already had 27 points against Texas A&M and then 31 against Auburn and looked nearly unguardable against the Tigers.
If his three-point shots are falling like they were against the Aggies and Tigers (3-6 against A&M, 6-8 against Auburn), Kentucky could be in for a long day.
On the other side, Kentucky will need a similar offensive effort to the one they had in Lexington less than a month ago in which the Wildcats had five players in double figures and had 20 offensive rebounds.
That production on the boards will be very difficult to match without Jarred Vanderbilt in the fold, but Kentucky will need contributions from multiple guys and a strong performance on the boards to clinch their spot in the finals on Sunday.
Alabama will be on their third game in three days, and that could presumably be a factor, especially since the Tide aren’t particularly deep and Sexton has played 33 and 34 minutes so far in the tournament, but momentum is also crucial in tournament situations like these and Alabama has a lot of it.
Kentucky will need to slow that momentum train down on Saturday to pick up a win.