Alabama Basketball: What you should know about College of Charleston

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Practice Day - Spokane
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Practice Day - Spokane / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Alabama Basketball’s first round matchup against College of Charleston won’t be easy, and the Tide will have to bring its best stuff against the upset-minded Cougars.

Lefty guard Reyne Smith is Charleston’s top weapon, posting 12.8 points per game. Smith, a product of Australia, is a three-year starter who gets most of his production from the three-point line. This season, he is connecting on a career-high 39.5 percent from downtown while also attempting a career-high 8.1 attempts per contest.

Smith is a high-volume shooter that can get hot; he hit nine three-pointers against St. Joseph’s and hit 10 triples against Campbell in two 30-point performances this season. Bama will have to put some length on Reyne Smith and run him off the three-point line today. 

Croatian big Ante Brzovic averages 12.3 points per game and leads the Cougars with 6.2 boards per outing. Brzovic is also a skilled passer, ranking second on the team with 81 assists. He is an effective player, but the athleticism and perimeter-oriented nature of Alabama’s Grant Nelson could give him problems. Additionally, the Tide will benefit from the physical presence of Nick Pringle down low. 

Veteran wings Ben Burnham (11.7 PPG, 37% from three) and Frankie Policelli (9.4 PPG, 34% from three) are both solid contributors who have started every game for the Cougars. They are similar players who can stretch the floor on offense and rebound well. 

Point guard CJ Fulton rounds out the starting lineup. Fulton is a floor general who averages 4.2 points and a team-best 4.2 assists per game. Fulton is a respectable three-point shooter at 35%, but rarely looks for his own offense. He could be tasked with guarding second-team All-American Mark Sears, which could prove to be one of the most important matchups in this game. 

Guards Kobe Rodgers (9.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG) and Bryce Butler (8.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG) are significant contributors off the bench for Charleston. Both shoot the three well (44% and 46% respectively), but prefer to attack the basket and provide the Cougars with a change of pace offensively. Both are also bigger guards that could match up better with Bama’s big guards like Aaron Estrada and Rylan Griffen.

The Crimson Tide will have to defend the three-point line better than it has for much of this season. It will need Pringle, Nelson, and Mo Wague to be effective in the paint and prevent Brzovic from having a major impact. I expect Alabama to play well offensively in its own right and ultimately advance to the second round.