Can Alabama Basketball adjust to a very different second round opponent?

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

After advancing to the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament with a comfortable win over College of Charleston, Alabama will face a very different opponent on Sunday evening.

Charleston entered the tourney as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see that the Cougars were not a good matchup for Alabama. They played a similar style to the Tide, but were much smaller and far less athletic. Charleston would’ve had to shoot the lights out to stay competitive against Alabama. While they ultimately hit 10 three-pointers, most of them came too late to make a significant impact on the game. 

The approach of 13-seed Grand Canyon will be starkly different from that of the Cougars. The Antelopes were visibly much more athletic than Saint Mary’s in their first round win, and can physically match up with Alabama at almost every position. 

They aren’t huge, with 6’10” Arizona State transfer Duke Brennan and 6’8”, 260-pound Louisville transfer Sydney Curry logging most of the minutes down low this season. Curry did not even play in the first round, making the Antelopes’ lineup relatively small. 

However, a trio of big, athletic forwards helped GCU to overwhelm Saint Mary’s in the second half.

Tyon Grant-Foster and Grant McGlothan are two-way wings that are likely Grand Canyon’s best players on both ends of the floor. In addition, 6’8” Lok Wur came off the bench and made a huge impact with six points and four blocks. Collectively, these three forwards logged nine blocks for the Antelopes.

Obviously, Grand Canyon will bring an element of length and bounce that College of Charleston did not have. Alabama has athleticism of its own in the frontcourt led by Grant Nelson and Nick Pringle, but will have to adjust to a new style of opponent in this two-day turnaround. 

Can Bama Hoops make it two wins this weekend? If it can beat two teams with such contrasting approaches, it will advance to the Sweet 16 with plenty of confidence.