Charleston vs. Alabama Prediction, Odds and Key Players for NCAA Tournament First Round (Crimson Tide Cruises)

College basketball betting preview, prediction and best bet for Charleston-Alabama. 

Mar 15, 2024; Nashville, TN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) celebrates after drawing a foul against Florida.
Mar 15, 2024; Nashville, TN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) celebrates after drawing a foul against Florida. / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Charleston faces No. 4 Alabama in what is projected to be the highest-scoring first-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament. Charleston, a March Madness participant for the second-straight year, is looking for its first NCAA Tournament win since a 1997 upset of No. 12 Maryland. 

Can the Cougars advance as a double-digit underdog?

Charleston has a nice 10-day break since wrapping up the CAA Tournament title in an overtime win over Stony Brook March 12. Alabama, one of the best offenses in the nation, is licking its wounds after giving up over 100 points in a loss to Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

Here’s the betting preview of the first-round tilt with a best bet. 

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Charleston vs. Alabama Odds, Spread and Total

Charleston vs. Alabama Betting Trends

  • Charleston is 16-16-1 ATS this season
  • Alabama is 17-15 ATS this season
  • Charleston is 3-2 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Alabama is 15-9 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 18-15 in Charleston games this season
  • The OVER is 24-8 in Alabama games this season

Charleston vs. Alabama How to Watch

  • Date: Friday, March 22 
  • Game time: 7:35 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Spokane Arena
  • How to watch (TV): truTV
  • Charleston record: 27-7
  • Alabama record: 21-11

Charleston vs. Alabama Key Players to Watch


Reyne Smith: Smith is the Cougars’ leading scorer at 12.8 points per game and top perimeter weapon with over 100 three-pointers on the year. Smith shot just 12-of-30 from the field in the CAA Tournament, but his 23 points (six 3-pointers) in the championship game was enough to lead Charleston past Stonybrook for an NCAA Tournament berth. 


Mark Sears: Speaking of great perimeter shooters, Sears is hitting from downtown at a 43.1% clip and over 50% from the field this season as a top-15 scorer in the nation (21.1 points per game). Sears came up empty from beyond the arc (0-for-4) in Alabama’s one-and-done trip in the SEC Tournament. He’s scored 20-plus points in six consecutive games, though. 

Charleston vs. Alabama Prediction and Pick 

Fans of high-flying basketball should turn into this first-round matchup on Friday between two of the fastest teams in the nation. Both play at a top-60 pace (Alabama No. 9; Charleston No. 59) and have great shooting metrics.

Give the Crimson Tide the edge, though, with the revenge factor after failing to win a game in the SEC Tournament. Alabama’s offense, No. 11 in KenPom in effective field goal percentage and No. 10 in 2-point shooting, faces a middle-of-the-road Charleston defense that doesn’t force turnovers and was in the bottom-half of the CAA against 3 - and 2-point shots. Charleston played the 214th-hardest schedule of opposing offenses and a step up in class is bad news when they meet Alabama in Washington. 

Alabama’s defense might be last in the SEC in scoring, but the Crimson Tide faced the nation’s toughest schedule of opposing offenses. Charleston can score with anybody, but if there’s one area where Alabama’s defense can capitalize, it’s on the perimeter.

The Crimson Tide are the No. 63 defense from downtown this season and will face a Charleston offense that lets it fly at the 16th-highest rate (47.1%) in the country. 

Alabama’s defense gets enough stops and its offense continues to pour in points to pull away. Lay it with the Crimson Tide. 

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Game odds update periodically and are subject to change.