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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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SEC Tournament Semifinals Alabama Crimson Tide vs Florida Gators

The Quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament takes place today and we will see the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Florida Gators. The game is scheduled for a 1:00 pm (Eastern) start time and will be televised on ABC. Currently the Odds for the game have Florida favored by 13 points while the total sits at 116.

Analysis: Top-seeded Florida had little trouble in its quarterfinal matchup with Louisiana State on Friday. The Gators got a career highs in points (27) and rebounds (12) from Erik Murphy on Friday and overwhelmed the Tigers on the defensive end. The Gators have no reason to worry about a bid to the NCAA Tournament but would like to sweep through the SEC to ensure themselves of the highest possible seed when the field is announced Sunday. Florida came out with that purpose in mind Friday and dominated LSU, pushing the lead to 35 points in the second half before settling for an 80-58 victory. Murphy and Scottie Wilbekin combined to go 9-for-12 from 3-point range and Michael Frazier added a pair of 3-pointers off the bench as the Gators cruised. Florida led the SEC and ranked among the leaders nationally in scoring and field goal percentage defense, and proved it could turn that on with a 15-0 run in the first meeting with Alabama that erased the eight-point second half deficit. The Gators ended up holding the Crimson Tide to one field goal in the final 9:53 in that contest. Florida has not won the SEC tournament since taking the last of three straight in 2007.

The Crimson Tide improved their NCAA Tournament resume by taking out Tennessee in the quarterfinals but could put themselves in a much more secure position by beating Florida. Alabama showed that it would have no trouble playing a rugged defensive contest in its victory over Tennessee and will have more on the line as it attempts to reach the SEC finals and attract the attention of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Trevor Releford and Levi Randolph hit all the big shots when called upon Friday and should keep Florida busy guarding the perimeter.  The Crimson Tide do not have the size to match the likes of Murphy and Patric Young on Florida’s interior but will spread the floor and penetrate the lane with a series of quick guards. Sophomore forward Nick Jacobs came off the bench Friday to pull down 12 rebounds and could be counted on again Saturday to provide an interior presence. Alabama had an eight-point lead on the Gators at one point in the regular season meeting but fell off down the stretch. Releford led the Crimson Tide with 12 points but went 0-of-3 from 3-point range and got little help from Randolph (three points) and Rodney Cooper (five). Alabama has not beaten a ranked team and dropped three of five to end the regular season. A win over the Gators could help the NCAA Tournament selection committee overlook losses to Dayton, Mercer and Tulane in the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Pick: Just 1 of the last 10 meetings between these teams have been decided by more than 12 points, including both games this year. This really should be a low scoring game as both teams play excellent defense and that should mean a close game. The Bama defense is tough this year as they come in allowing just 59.3 ppg on 40.9% shooting for the year and they are off a game, in which they held a Tennessee squad that had been scoring a bunch, to just 48 points. Florida is off a huge 22 point over LSU, but the Tiger defense is not even close to that of the Tides, plus we note that Florida has not played well away from home of late losing their last 3 games SU & ATS when out on the road. Alabama is clearly on the bubble for a bit in the NCAA Tourney and that should give them plenty of motivation to at least keep this one. Im not sure Alabama can win outright, but behind their staunch defense and heavy motivation they should have enough to keep this one close.  

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