Alabama hopes to prevail in the battle for fifth place in the Maui Invitational, coming to you from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Tide will take the court against the Providence Friars Wednesday night. Providence escaped with a 63-62 win over Davidson in their losers’ bracket matchup Tuesday night. Alabama knocked off UNLV 86-74 in their losers’ bracket contest Tuesday night. The Crimson Tide own a 4-3 edge in the all-time series between the programs, though the Friars claimed an 82-70 triumph in the most recent matchup on December 11, 2010.

Providence Notes

Providence struggled on the offensive end for the second straight time in this tournament but managed to do just enough on that end of the floor to get the victory over Davidson. The Friars hope that they can ramp up their offense a bit and make it two straight wins here. Providence was all over Davidson early, leading 15-2 just over six minutes into the game and took their biggest lead at 27-8 with 8:27 to play in the first half. Things slowly went downhill from there for the Friars as their lead was cut to just four at the half. Providence saw the lead trimmed to one on several occasions in the second half but never surrendered the advantage, doing just enough to get the victory. The Friars shot 44.6 percent from the field, including just two of 16 from three-point range, and connected on 11 of 15 free throws. Providence turned the ball over just four times in the victory. Nate Watson had 22 points to lead the Friars in the victory.

The Friars are putting up an average of 72.7 points per contest this season. Providence is collecting an average of 36.3 rebounds per contest while they dish out 12.7 assists a night on the year. The Friars give up an average of 65.7 points per game in the early going this year. Nate Watson leads the team with 19 points plus six rebounds a night this season. David Duke kicks in 14.3 points plus 4.7 rebounds a night while A.J. Reeves adds nine points a contest. Noah Horchler, Ed Croswell, Jared Bynum (nine points, 4.7 assists) and Greg Gantt are all looked at to contribute on both ends for the Friars. Providence is shooting 44.1 percent from the field as a team on the season. The Friars knock down an average of four three-pointers a night while shooting a brutal 24.5 percent from beyond the arc this season. Providence is struggling at the charity stripe as they convert 70.4 percent of their attempts from the line

Alabama Hoping To Finish 2-1 in Asheville

Alabama bounced back from a poor offensive showing as they were trounced by Stanford in their quarterfinal matchup by taking advantage of a defensively deficient UNLV squad in the losers’ bracket. The Crimson Tide now looks to finish the tournament strong and leave town with back to back wins. Alabama led early, holding an 11-3 edge just two and a half minutes into the game. They then gave up a 12-0 run in just over two minutes to trail 15-11 with more than 15 minutes to go in the opening half. Alabama trailed most of the rest of the half, tying the game at 38 in the final seconds before intermission. In the second half, with the game tied at 53 with just under 14 minutes to play, Alabama went on an 8-0 run to go up 61-53. The Crimson Tide didn’t see their lead drop below six after that en route to the victory. The Crimson Tide shot 48.3 percent from the field, including knocking down 15 of 40 three-point attempts and went 13 of 19 at the line. John Petty Jr. led Alabama with 22 points plus six assists, hitting six threes in the win.

For the year, Alabama is averaging 77 points per game this season. The Crimson Tide collects an average of 40.7 rebounds per game while they dish out an average of 14 assists a night. Alabama is surrendering an average of 71 points a night this season. Jahvon Quinerly leads the team with 17 points per game on the season. Jayden Shackleford kicks in 13.7 points plus 6.7 boards a contest, John Petty Jr. chips in 14.3 points plus 5.3 boards a game and Herbert Jones adds 12 points plus 6.7 boards a night. Jordan Bruner, James Rojas, Joshua Primo, Alex Reese and Keon Ellis are among those who have to step up offensively for coach Nate Oats. The Crimson Tide is struggling to shoot the ball as they are hitting only 40.7 percent from the field as a team on the year. Alabama knocks down an average of 9.7 three-pointers a night while sinking only 29 percent from beyond the arc. The Crimson Tide is sputtering at the charity stripe as they convert just 66.7 percent of their chances at the line.

 Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Providence has looked nothing like the team that piled up 97 points on Fairfield in their season opener. In their two games here in Asheville, the Friars have totaled 121 points. While they did bounce back after getting pasted by Indiana, they also nearly let a 19-point lead slip away and their inability to hit late game free throws gave Davidson two chances to beat them in the final seconds. Alabama struggled against Stanford in the quarterfinals but they got back to normal against UNLV and their weak defense. Petty Jr. came to life as he knocked down six triples after having just three on the year coming in. The Crimson Tide has good size inside and are good on the glass. I’m still not sold on the Friars after their near meltdown Tuesday. Give Alabama the nod here.

Prediction: Alabama Crimson Tide 86-81

Full-Game Total Pick

It’s hard to know what to expect from a scoring standpoint in this contest. Both teams were brutal offensively in their quarterfinal losses. Providence still struggled in their win over Davidson as they couldn’t hit a perimeter jumper if their lives depended on it. Alabama, on the other hand, came back to life offensively, in part due to hitting 15 three-pointers and in part because UNLV plays only slightly better defense than air itself. Providence was lit up by Indiana in the quarterfinals and Alabama has a pretty solid rotation. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Crimson Tide hit a bunch of threes to help this one over the number, especially if Providence can find a way to get their own offense in gear.

Prediction: Over 144.5

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