It’s become rare these days for top-tier programs in college basketball to schedule “home and home” matchups these days. We have challenges and special events that give us potentially top-10 matchups in the non-conference such as the Champions Classic. Thanks to an agreement between Gonzaga and Alabama, we’ll have a pair of marquee games to look forward to this and next year.
The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are scheduled to play a pair of “neutral site” games for the next two seasons, although one is in Seattle, Washington close to Spokane, while the other will be in Birmingham, just miles away from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. So technically, it’s not a true road game but expect a pro-Gonzaga crowd on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (7-1) started out as the preseason No. 1 team in the country but fell to 3 after losing to Duke last Friday, 84-81. It was a great game all-around and Gonzaga has the chance to move back up to No. 1 if Purdue falls to Iowa this weekend.
But they’ll need to beat Alabama (6-1) first beforehand, who is ranked No. 16 overall after losing to Iona in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. The Gaels, coached by Rick Pitino, are one of the better mid-major programs this season so it wasn’t a bad loss. But it did expose some potential weaknesses, as did with the Blue Devils defeating Gonzaga.
This is a game of unique styles and roster setups that gives both teams a potential advantage. But who has the ultimate edge? Here are some key storylines to watch for this matchup.