Can Alabama Basketball avoid a first round exit?

Florida v Alabama
Florida v Alabama / Brandon Sumrall/GettyImages

Alabama is slated to take on Pat Kelsey’s College of Charleston Cougars in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are a dangerous opponent that is not to be taken lightly, so how will Nate Oats prepare his team?

College of Charleston is a vintage mid-major heading into this year’s tournament. The CAA champs went 27-7 to earn the 13-seed in the West region, and are a unit that is accustomed to winning.

Charleston returns several key pieces from a team that went 31-4 last season, giving them a 58-11 record over the last two seasons. 

This is a slightly undersized but veteran group that shoots the three-ball very well and very often. Kelsey will trot out four shooters that connect on over 37 percent of their triples, and two more that hit on over 34 percent on high volume. 

This style of play is very similar to that of Alabama, so the Tide will have to defend the three-point line much better than it has recently. 

On the other side of the coin, College of Charleston has not played a team like Alabama all season. The Cougars played a handful of fellow quality mid-majors in the non-conference, including Florida Atlantic, but didn’t play a single high-major opponent. The Tide will present a lot of athleticism in the frontcourt with forwards like Grant Nelson, Nick Pringle, and Mo Wague, all of whom could give the Cougars problems. 

Obviously, as the 4-seed and coming out of the powerful Southeastern Conference, Alabama is the better team on paper. Still, Bama Hoops has not looked good so far in March. The Tide is trending down, having lost four of its last six, while Charleston has won 12 straight and appears to be peaking. 

Nate Oats will have to find a way to tap into the psychology of his team and shake off the stench of three weeks of subpar basketball. The good thing about the NCAA Tournament is that everything behind you no longer matters. A Bama squad that has previously proven it can be one of the nation’s best may be getting a fresh start at the perfect time.