Alabama Basketball: Keys to beating San Diego State

Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa NewsNcaa Basketball March Madness Alabama Vs Maryland
Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa NewsNcaa Basketball March Madness Alabama Vs Maryland /

What should happen Friday night in Louisville is for the better team to win a Sweet 16 game. Alabama Basketball is the better team. But basketball game outcomes are sometimes more complex.

In Louisville, there will be two teams that are almost equally good at one thing. That one thing is playing defense. Less known is that Alabama and San Diego State (SDSU) are similar in another way. Statistically, both are ‘feast or famine’ three-point shooting teams. For the season, the Crimson Tide’s 3PT percentage is 34.1%. For the Aztecs, the number is 34.9%.

The percentages might be misleading. San Diego State has won 12 of its last 13 games. In four of the wins, the Aztecs were from 40.9% to 47.1% from outside the arc. But in their last five games, the 3PT-make numbers were 26.3%, 37.5%,10.5%, 25% and 30%. It is possible SDSU could get hot on the perimeter against the Crimson Tide, but it is unlikely they can be hot enough to pull off an upset.

Much has been written that San Diego State is not a high-scoring team. One reason why is their chosen tempo. In Ken Pomeroy’s calculation of adjusted tempo, SDSU is No. 263 among Division One teams. Alabama Basketball is No. 5. The Aztecs will try to slow down the Crimson Tide and make the contest a half-court game. Alabama, conversely, will try to speed up SDSU to an uncomfortable (for them) pace of play.

San Diego State has a roster filled with veteran players. In a battle of will, the added experience should give the Aztecs an advantage. As much as anything, the dynamic of the game’s tempo contest is which team can impose its will on the opponent.

At least two of three results must take place for SDSU to pull off an upset. The Aztecs must not be cold from outside the arc, or if they are, Alabama must be equally cold or worse. SDSU must slow the game, limiting Alabama possessions, and thereby holding the Crimson Tide’s offensive production to somewhere in the low 60s. As good as San Diego State is defensively, they will need help to keep the Crimson Tide below 65 points. Meaning SDSU will need the Crimson Tide to be careless with the ball, thereby nullifying its own possessions.

Note: Team stats provided by Sports Reference

Next. Previewing the San Diego State roster. dark

Considering what SDSU might accomplish, does not mean they are likely to do so. Given their level of competition throughout the season, their stats may be inflated. An Alabama Basketball team, playing not one of its best games, but one of its better games should win by double-digits.