(8) Creighton vs. (9) Alabama Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(8) Creighton Bluejays
It’s no secret that the Blue Jays, who are looking for their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2002, are looking to outscore their opponents. They led the nation in field goal percentage during the regular season at 50 percent. Their 42 percent shooting from beyond the arc was second only to Northern Colorado. They get a lot of quality looks as a result of good ball movement and unselfishness. In sophomore forward Doug McDermott, they have one of the most underappreciated players in the country. He scored 23 points a game in ridiculously-efficient fashion. Defense is this team’s Achilles heel. They’re one of the worst defensive teams in the field, surrendering 69 points a night on 44 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent shooting from deep. That’s while playing a strength of schedule that was ranked 101 in the nation. They did manage to go 3-1 against teams in the RPI Top 50. It will be interesting to see how far they can go with their offense-centric approach.
(9) Alabama Crimson Tide
Defense is the calling card of this Crimson Tide team, who are making their first tournament appearance in six years. They’re extremely active and aggressive defensively, sometimes to a fault as evidenced by their foul trouble throughout the year. There has also been some trouble off of the floor. Tony Mitchell, the team’s second-leading scorer, was suspended indefinitely in early February. The thought was that he would eventually be reinstated, but he’s done for the year. That puts a heavy load on senior forward JaMychal Green’s shoulders. He’ll have to be a leader and extremely productive for the Crimson Tide to advance. Freshmen Levi Randolph, Trevor Lacey and Rodney Cooper are also going to have to step up in Mitchell’s absence. Offensively, the Crimson Tide is prone to go through serious droughts. They sorely lack shooters, making just four threes on average. They should be prepared to see plenty of zone defenses. Only five of their 20 wins in the regular season came against teams with an RPI in the Top 75.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Creighton. The Blue Jays got the match up they wanted against a mediocre offensive team, which should help them advance.
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