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
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2) Limit scoring opportunities with the clock stopped

Fouls and free throws can swing almost any basketball game. That should hold true for this matchup.

Alabama commits a ton of fouls per game. Earlier this season in a game against Auburn, the Tide ended the game with over 30 fouls. And with how bad Alabama’s defense has been, giving up any free points is something the Tide can’t afford to do. This season, Alabama has committed just over 20 fouls per game. Not only does this stop the clock, but it ultimately turns into scoring opportunities with the clock stopped.

On the season, Alabama is giving up nearly 19 points per game with the clock stopped. For most of its opponents, this hasn’t made that big of an impact because most offenses can’t keep up with the Tide. North Carolina’s offense can.

North Carolina gets to the free throw line nearly 23 times a game, making just over 17. That 17 points per game with the clock stopped. Alabama allows over 25 free throw attempts per game, playing right into one of the Tar Heels’ strengths.

The magic number for the Tide is 20. If Alabama can limit its fouls to under 20, I like its chances to win this game. On the season, the Tide have only lost once when committing fewer than 20 fouls. In games in which Alabama has committed more than 20 fouls, it has gone 4-10.

Limiting its fouls should limit the number of free throws being shot, which can only benefit Alabama and its defense.