Busting Brackets

Clemson vs Alabama: 2023-24 NCAA Tournament game preview, TV schedule

Nov 28, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) looses control of
Nov 28, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) looses control of / Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson and Alabama meet with a trip to the Final Four on the line; will it be the Tigers or Crimson Tide prevailing in this football rivalry and making some basketball history?

TV schedule: Saturday, March 30, 8:49 pm ET. TBS
Arena: crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California

A surreal run in recent weeks has Clemson (24-11) in the Elite Eight for the first time in 44 years. The Tigers weren’t in great shape as the season ended, losing by 21 points to a rough Boston College team in the ACC Tournament just over two weeks ago. Clemson still earned a 6-seed and proceeding to wallop New Mexico before upsetting great Baylor and Arizona squads.

The big name at Clemson is PJ Hall (18.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg), though this talented veteran forward is far from the only weapon for the Tigers. Syracuse transfer Joseph Girard (15.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg) has certainly found his shooting stroke with the Tigers while Chase Hunter (12.7 ppg, 3.1 apg) had 18 points and 7 rebounds in that upset over Arizona on Thursday. Another player to keep an eye on is Ian Schieffelin (9.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg), a junior forward who has played well in recent weeks.

Clemson is now 19th in the KenPom ratings, with both offense and defense sitting in decent shape in most metrics. This Tigers defense has been exceeding expectations during this run to the Elite Eight and is a major reason they’re still playing games. Opponents are shooting less than 20% from long-range against the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament while their own offense has gotten the job done three games in a row.

On the other side, Alabama (24-11) keeps their incredible season going; a season that’s been defined by their dynamic offense. The Crimson Tide have topped 100 points several times this season, including four times in SEC Play and in their opening game against Charleston. They also beat Grand Canyon and upset 1-seed North Carolina to get to the Elite Eight, now on the doorstep of their own kind of history.

The big face for Alabama basketball has been Mark Sears (21.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.2 apg), an Ohio transfer who’s the heart and soul of this talented Crimson Tide offense. Thursday saw a dynamic performance from Grant Nelson (11.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), the North Dakota State transfer who scored 24 points against the Tar Heels in that upset. Former Hofstra star Aaron Estrada (13.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.7 apg) is a veteran playmaker in the backcourt who had 19 points on Thursday, the same total as sophomore guard Rylan Griffen (11.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg), another rising star for the Crimson Tide.

At the moment, Alabama sits 14th in the KenPom ratings and are 4th in the nation in offensive efficiency. This team plays explosive offense, as evident by some of these scores and their recent performances. They went toe-to-toe with a great North Carolina squad for 40 minutes and came out on top. The only concern is how their defense holds up, especially during stretches when the shots aren’t falling.

These two teams matched up back in November in Tuscaloosa and Clemson came away with an 85-77 road win. Obviously, more than four months have passed and these two teams are different and both playing inspired basketball. It took upsets and hard work to get here, and there’s no doubt talent on both of these rosters.

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Can Clemson keep up with Alabama’s offense in this rematch? The Crimson Tide look more cohesive than in November and have gotten some fantastic play from their starting five. It’s the defense where Clemson can take advantage and that might be where this game is decided. We’re expecting another classic between these two schools with a slight lean towards an Alabama squad with a bit more talent and experience. Don’t sleep on the Tigers; they can absolutely win this game; after all they’ve already beaten two teams seeded higher.

Prediction: Alabama 85, Clemson 83