Why Alabama Basketball could lose to Charleston, but won't

First-round upsets by No. 13 seeds have happened 32 times. Why Alabama Basketball is vulnerable against Charleston and why the Tide will not lose.

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
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There are two ways to look at the Alabama Basketball opening round game of the NCAA Tournament. One way is that the Alabama Crimson Tide has enough roster weaknesses that it is vulnerable against any team. A more realistic outlook is while Charleston might win, there are more reasons why the Cougars will lose to the Crimson Tide.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Charleston History

Some background is needed first. The Charleston Cougars are the College of Charleston team. The Crimson Tide and the Cougars have met once before. It was a humbling experience for Alabama. The Cougars won 82-60 back in 1993. It was the Tide's worst loss of the 1993-94 season. Alabama also lost to Kentucky in Lexington that season and to the later National Champion, Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville. Neither loss was as bad as what the Cougars did to the Crimson Tide.

The history might be interesting, but it means nothing to what will happen in Spokane on Friday.

The only reason Charleston can upset the Crimson Tide is because Alabama can play poorly enough to open the door to almost any team. Otherwise, the Cougars are in a mismatch. Charleston is not a bad team and the Cougars are more than good enough that Alabama must take them seriously. According to Ken Pomeroy's algorithm, there are 16 of the 68, NCAA Tournament teams that are not as good as Charleston. One of the 16 is UAB and the Blazers have won 23 games this season. Another is Morehead State, who has 26 wins but lost early to the Crimson Tide by 32 points.

According to Pomeroy, Charleston is No. 98 in Division One. The Crimson Tide's recent losses pushed Alabama down to No. 13 in Pomeroy's Ratings.

Using the same ratings to compare, the worst team the Crimson Tide has lost to this season is No. 47 Ohio State. Seven of Alabama's 11 losses have come against Top 20 teams, and five of those were Top 10 teams.

Fans of the Cougars are predicting an upset because their team has won 12 straight games. Any double-digit win streak deserves notice. A deeper look shows the level of Charleston's opponents is not a bit impressive. The best team the Cougars beat in the run is Hofstra, ranked No. 114 by KenPom. Drexel is next at No. 124. Two Charleston wins came against No. 147 Towson and two more against No. 319 William and Mary. The other wins in the streak are North Carolina A&T (No. 346), Campbell (No. 311), Northeastern (No. 252), Monmouth (No. 196), Stony Brook (No. 171) and Delaware (No. 169).

For an upset to happen on Friday, Alabama will have to play its far worst game of the season and Charleston will have to play by far its best.

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