Busting Brackets

Alabama basketball: 3 keys to beating UNC Tar Heels in Sweet 16 matchup

Grand Canyon v Alabama
Grand Canyon v Alabama / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
1 of 4

For the second year in a row, Alabama has found itself in the Sweet 16. The Tide was the top seed in last year's tournament. This year Alabama is trying to pull off the upset and keep its season alive. The Sweet 16 isn't unfamiliar territory for the Crimson Tide under Head Coach Nate Oats. In just his fifth season at the helm, Oats has reached the round of 16 three times but has never been able to get the Tide past this round.

Alabama has been one of the best offenses all season, and that hasn’t changed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tide dropped 109 points in the opening round against a tough Charleston team, winning by 13 points. The second round wasn’t nearly as high-scoring. Alabama took down upset-minded Grand Canyon 72-61.

Mark Sears has been great for the Tide, averaging 28 points per game during the tournament. A couple of other Alabama players have pitched in, but the offense has been placed directly on the back of Sears.

Alabama's opponent in the Sweet 16 is North Carolina. UNC completely missed the NCAA Tournament last season, but is only two seasons removed from advancing to the championship game. The Tar Heels are one of the true blue bloods in college basketball and expect to be playing for the title year in and year out.

To make it this far in the NCAA Tournament, UNC has taken down Wagner and Michigan State. Neither game was particularly close, with the Tar Heels winning both games by an average of 22 points. North Carolina has been strong all year, taking down some of the top teams in the tournament earning the 1-seed.

North Carolina has been led by RJ Davis all season, and he continues to do so in the NCAA Tournament. He is averaging 22 points through the first two rounds. Armando Bacot has done his best to help lead UNC to a title and is averaging a double-double in the tournament with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

It will take a complete team performance to take down North Carolina, but luckily for Alabama, this will be the Tar Heels' first real test of the tournament. The Tide have a great chance of taking down UNC but will need to play a nearly flawless game. Here are three keys to an Alabama win and its first Regional Final appearance in 20 years.