Busting Brackets

North Carolina Basketball: 3 keys for an Elite 8 berth over Alabama

With 16 teams left in the NCAA Tournament, UNC looks to secure a spot in the Elite 8.

RJ Davis looks to continue his successful season with a win over Alabama in the Sweet 16.
RJ Davis looks to continue his successful season with a win over Alabama in the Sweet 16. / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

In what's expected to be an up-and-down battle between UNC and Alabama on Thursday night in Los Angeles, there are going to be many factors in play that Coach Davis and his squad need to check off to come out victorious.

But what are they? Stick around to find out.

1. Do not leave Mark Sears alone

Yes, of course, it's obvious. He's their best player!

Although it does not hurt to emphasize that there's no better way to stop Alabama entirely than to keep their best player away from the basketball or from taking any shots, a matter of fact. Sears is averaging 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game.

In the first two rounds of this NCAA Tournament, he dropped 30 against College of Charleston and then followed that up with 26 against Grand Canyon.

It's going to be very key for UNC to do everything by any means possible to stop Alabama's leading scorer from attempting any shots. The Crimson Tide must be forced to have others put the ball on the deck or let it rip from three.

Sears' ability to get in the lane for a finish around the cup and create his own shot makes him a tough player to guard.

However, it should be the likes of Seth Trimble off the bench who gets assigned the task of defending No. 1 for Coach Nate Oats who is more than capable of locking down around the perimeter.

2. Protect the Three-Point line

After Alabama's last three games, they are averaging 26 three-point attempts. At the same time, have also averaged 9 made threes in that same stint. The point being is that this team likes to make it rain from deep.

The Crimson Tide possesses three different players who shoot above 40 percent from behind the arc.

North Carolina must gameplan to focus their defensive attention toward the three-point mark before things get out of hand in a hurry. It's extremely hard to get out of a funk when the other team is hitting shots to widen the scoring margin.

3. Rebound the Basketball

Only six spots down from North Carolina, Alabama grabs about 40 rebounds this season, snatching 40 in their last three outings.

As a Carolina staple, the Heels must secure the boards as they don't want Alabama to gain another chance at hoisting a three up in the air.

Next. Ranking each Sweet 16 matchup. Ranking each Sweet 16 matchup. dark

On the other end of the court, UNC must stop their 11 offensive rebounds per game. Second-chance points are crucial, especially in the NCAA Tournament. It employs a whole new dynamic that could make or break a team's shot at coming out on top.