NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: Get To Know University Of Alabama Crimson Tide
All-American freshman Brandon Miller is Alabama’s killer top scorer.
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Let’s get to know the Aztecs’ No. 1 seed Sweet Sixteen opponents.
Louisville, KY – What began as Madness has become Sweetness.
The University of Alabama Crimson Tide (31-5) are the No. 1 seed in the South Regional. They take on the 5-seed San Diego State Aztecs (29-6) in the South Regional Sweet Sixteen at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, March 24th at 3:30 p.m. PST, on TBS.
The Southeast Conference (SEC) is the most dominant of the NCAA Power conferences, and they are on a different level than feisty Cougars and plucky Paladins. The Crimson Tide are formidable, and the team recently made its commitment to winning as clear as bulletproof glass.
Before getting into the meat and potatoes of the Crimson Tide roster, we need to address the elephant in the room. We’re not referring to Alabama mascot Big Al either. We’re talking about All-American freshman and top NBA prospect forward Brandon Miller.
Drama unfolded Monday on television as Alabama football coach / living legend Nick Saban spoke his mind about Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats’ ongoing enablement of the freshman star Miller.
Coach Oats excused Miller’s presence at a shooting on Jan. 14, that killed a young woman. Miller allegedly delivered a gun to a former player who allegedly used it to kill the woman. Had Miller made other choices the woman would not be dead, and a former player might not be facing capital murder charges.
Oats and his bosses note that Miller was not charged with a crime, but there’s moral accountability being ignored by the University.
Saban is the first person at Alabama to declare that there are things far more important than NCAA Tournament wins, big bonuses and trophies. Doing the right thing could help a young athlete understand that elite skills don’t excuse him from jeopardy and terrible choices.
“There’s no such thing as the wrong place at the wrong time,” Saban said.
Miller remains in rotation, and he will be a major factor on Friday.
Miller and Alabama got hot against Maryland, hammering them 73-51 thanks to a stellar second half on Saturday at Legacy Arena in Birmingham. That win advanced the Crimson Tide to their second Sweet 16 in the past three tournaments- and their ninth overall.
Alabama and Brandon Miller got off to a slow start but the All-American freshman and NBA prospect eventually produced 19 points and seven boards after going scoreless in the first-round game.
6’9″ forward Miller leads the Crimson Tide in scoring (19.6), field goal percentage (45.1%), free throw percentage (85.6%), rebounds per game (8.3) and three-point percentage (40.1%). Not bad for a freshman…
It’s notable that Miller is likely still nursing a groin injury and actually missed his first nine shots of the NCAA Tournament.
Despite low output against Maryland, 6’1″ junior guard Mark Sears is the number two scorer (12.3), second in field goal percent (40.4%) third in free throw percent (83.5%) and grabs 3.8 boards a game.
6’10” freshman forward Noah Clowney averages just shy of a double-double per game, averaging 10.1 points, while grabbing 8.0 boards per game. He only puts in 64.4% of his free throws, however.
6’1″ senior guard Jahvon Quinerly had a stellar night against the Terrapins, going 9 of 14 and scoring 22 points on the anniversary of his left knee injury in a second-round loss to Notre Dame. He sank 4 of 6 three’s from beyond the arc. Quinerly averages 8.1 points per game, 3.8 assists, 1.8 boards, and is 39.1% from the field. He is 36% from beyond the arc.
Some prognosticators suggest Quinerly may be the most important player in this game, because of his breakout potential so he will need to be guarded Aztec style.
7’0″ sophomore center Charles Bediako had his fifth double-double of the season, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Bediako averages 6.1 points per game, 5.8 boards and 1.8 blocks. He makes only 36.6% of his free throws.
6’9″ freshman forward Nick Pringle is a key factor despite his statistics not highlighting the fact. He was the #1 JUCO prospect when Nate Oats picked him up, and he’s a fierce defender. He does things that don’t show up on stat sheets. Pringle is described as “an energy guy” with breakout potential and the Crimson Tide expect big things from him in the future.
The Crimson Tide handily dispatched the Terrapins on Saturday, but the Aztecs will be tougher. Seven different Aztecs can take over a game; the Aztecs are 10 deep, and the Aztecs are more physical than Maryland. Also: SDSU’s defense is truly elite.
There is one notable advantage SDSU holds over Alabama. The Aztecs are a much more mature team, whose starting lineup consists of four seniors and a junior, where the Crimson Tide’s starting lineup is mostly freshmen and sophomores.
We’ve seen #1 seeds Purdue and Kansas exit the Tournament early. Will Alabama play as expected- or are they be the next #1 to be upset?
Alabama will be prepared to face the Aztecs. If SDSU manages the pace of this game and fiercely guard the Crimson Tide, an upset could be waged.