Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Alabama

Lineup notes

Alabama:

(KenPom)

  • As noted earlier, they’ve had four different starting lineups in the last four games, so who knows. The most recent one was Shackleford, Primo, Ellis, Jones, Bruner.
  • It’s likely that nine players will get serious time in this one, though Oats has shown a willingness to expand his rotation to 11 on certain nights.
  • A key in this one: can Tennessee get Herbert Jones into foul trouble? He committed 4+ fouls in 17 games last season.

Tennessee:

(KenPom)

  • Vescovi, Bailey, James, Pons, Fulkerson maybe for a while.
  • As I was typing this, I realized that I never did the lineup data for the Missouri game. What a huge error! They really should ban New Year’s Eve while they’re at it.
  • Considering Alabama has no true rim protector, I’m very curious to see how often Barnes goes with the Anosike/Fulkerson lineup in this one. Theoretically, it could create a massive rebounding advantage, but it could also allow Oats to go small and free up new driving lanes.

Key matchups

Jahvon Quinerly vs. Santiago Vescovi. This is huge because Vescovi’s clearly improved a lot as a defender, but he hasn’t had to defend a ton of guards who want to get to the rim at all costs. Quinerly’s a tough draw, and it’ll be similar to working against Kira Lewis last year.

Herbert Jones vs. Yves Pons. My favorite matchup in this game. Both are athletic freaks, but of different varieties. Pons is a walking highlight reel; Jones will bowl you over if you’re in his way. I greatly enjoy watching both play.

John Petty vs. Josiah-Jordan James. Kind of simple to me: force Petty to take guarded, off-balance threes while avoiding taking your own on the offensive end.

Jaden Shackleford vs. Victor Bailey, Jr. I like this matchup a lot, too. Bailey hasn’t played many 2-guards who take threes at the rate Shackleford does, and if you leave him open, it’s a very dangerous game. That said, Shackleford is the least-effective defender by some margin in Alabama’s starting lineup. Bailey should have plenty of opportunities to score, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he posted his third game of 16+ points this season.

Three predictions

  1. Alabama attempts 30+ threes;
  2. Tennessee enjoys a sizable rebounding advantage;
  3. Tennessee, 77-66.

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