Alabama Crimson Tide pulling out all stops in Final Four preparation

The Connecticut Huskies are a great team. Against them, the Alabama Crimson Tide will be focused, determined and loose.

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

An Alabama Crimson Tide team that is both focused and loose is in Phoenix. The Crimson Tide left Tuscaloosa Tuesday afternoon with a chorus of appreciative fans wishing them well.

The Alabama basketball fans who believe the Crimson Tide can upset UConn differ from everyone outside the Crimson Nation. Alabama players no doubt know the Huskies are a big favorite. What they probably did not know until Tuesday could work in Alabama's favor.

UConn opened as an 11.5-point favorite. Thanks to Ben Fawkes, Crimson Tide players know more than the spread.

The college basketball betting world might as well be saying the Alabama Crimson Tide has no chance. A response from Nate Oats expresses the attitude of the entire team and staff. "Nobody’s gonna pick us to win. We’re kind of playing with house money a little bit, if you will. We weren’t supposed to beat Clemson. We weren’t supposed to beat North Carolina. A lot of people were picking against us against Grand Canyon."

In big games, the favorite often feels the most pressure. Nate Oats' team is expected to be focused, but loose and prepared to take the fight to the Huskies throughout. Will it be enough? The Crimson Tide cannot afford any lulls in offensive production. Alabama must also get enough defensive stops to attack UConn with tempo. According to Ken Pomeroy, the Huskies are No. 315 in Division One in Adjusted Tempo. Alabama is No. 9.

If the Crimson Tide cannot take a first-half lead, the longer it can keep the Huskies no more than 4-6 points ahead, the pressure will build on UConn. They will be one game away from a chance at a repeat championship, and coming up short as a heavy favorite would be a stunning disappointment. In a close game late, pressure will weigh heavily on the Huskies.

Alabama Crimson Tide cannot let Clingan dominate

Alabama can win, but the Crimson Tide cannot allow UConn center, 7'2", 280 lbs., Donovan Clingan to dominate the game as he did against Illinois in the Elite Eight. Clingan was credited with five blocks against the Illini. The count could have been double the official number.

How good is Clingan? Check out this stat provided by the Hartford Courant. "Illinois shot 3-for-25 from inside the arc (12%) in Clingan’s 22 minutes on the floor, going 0-for-19 when challenging him directly." Clingan's 7'7" wingspan comes close to top-tier NBA centers.

In the vein of pulling out all the stops, Alabama is having former Tide player Erwin Dudley fill a Clingan role in practices. Dudley was an All-SEC center at 6'8" and 240 lbs. and was the SEC Player-of-the-Year in the 2001-2002 season. At age 42, and four inches shorter than Clingan, Dudley has neither the UConn player's wingspan nor jumping ability. What Dudley has, is successful playing experience against centers who had a height advantage. Hopefully, that knowledge and experience will boost the Crimson Tide.

Next. Belief in Sears and Stevenson propelled Alabama Basketball into the Final Four. Belief in Sears and Stevenson propelled Alabama Basketball into the Final Four. dark