Alabama Basketball: Which team to root for Wednesday night


The NCAA Basketball Tournament begins tonight, but for Alabama Basketball fans, the first important game is Wednesday. That is when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish play the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for the opportunity to face the Crimson Tide Friday afternoon.

Maybe some Alabama fans cannot tolerate pulling for Notre Dame in anything. Nothing similar would impede Tide fans from preferring Rutgers to win.

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The practical among us might pick as a Wednesday night favorite, the team the Crimson Tide would find easier to beat. Let’s consider which team is the less challenging opponent for the Crimson Tide.

Potential Alabama Basketball Opponent – Notre Dame

  • Notre Dame is 22-10 on the season, including being 15-5 in ACC play.
  • The Irish are 8-3 since the beginning of February but only one of the wins came against an NCAA Tournament team. They beat Miami 68-64 on February 2.
  • During the season, Notre Dame had only two wins over the ACC’s NCAA Tournament teams (Miami and North Carolina, in early January).
  • In games against SEC teams, Notre Dame lost to Texas A&M and beat Kentucky. The four-point win over the Cats was on Dec. 11 when John Calipari’s team shot 10.5% from outside the arc.
  • Offensively Notre Dame is patient in tempo and one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Irish have four players making threes in a range of 38.7% to 46%.
  • The Irish are less efficient in scoring than the Crimson Tide, a weakness greatly affected by being one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in Division One.
  • Their most productive outside shooter is 6’6″ guard Dane Goodwin who shoots 44.8% outside the arc.
  • They have some size with two 6’10” players in the regular rotation. One of them, Nate Laszewski is their most accurate three-point shooter, making 46% on the season.

Potential Alabama Basketball Opponent – Rutgers

  • Rutgers is 18-13 on the season, including being 12-8 in Big Ten play.
  • The Scarlet Knights had some bad losses early in the season, to DePaul, Lafayette and U Mass. Since early February, their only losses have come against Big Ten NCAA Tournament teams; Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Rutgers beat Michigan and Iowa earlier in the season and also have wins against Michigan State, Ohio State and Illinois, plus a February win over Wisconsin.
  • Though ranked No. 77 by the NCAA NET (highest ever for the Big Dance), Rutgers has six Quad 1 wins and three Quad 2 wins.
  • Rutgers is average among Division One teams in almost every offensive stat. What sustains them is consistently tough defense. The Scarlet Knights hold opponents to 41.4% field goal shooting.
  • The greatest offensive weakness for the Scarlet Knights is free-throw shooting, particularly late in games.
  • Rutgers is not a good three-point shooting team, except for 6’6″ senior guard, Ron Harper who is at 39% from outside the arc for the season.
  • Coupled with solid defense, Rutgers operates at a pace that reduces opponent possessions. As a result, the Scarlet Knights average allowing opponents, less than 66 points per game.

Note: Team and player stats from and

If the Crimson Tide plays a solid game, neither the Irish nor the Scarlet Knights should win. If the Crimson Tide cannot impose its faster tempo and does not control turnovers, either game can be close.

Next. Crimson Tide NCAA Tournament History. dark

Just a guess, but while the Irish may be the better team, Rutgers may be the harder team for the Tide to beat.