Saturday, April 20, 2024

Key Stats As Alabama Takes On North Carolina In NCAA Tournament

Alabama knocks off Grand Canyon; advances to face North Carolina in L.A.

Alabama will face North Carolina on Thursday as it looks to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004.

Here’s everything you need to know before the Crimson Tide’s upcoming clash with the Tar Heels, including key statistics and matchups to watch.

By the numbers

North Carolina has one of the most experienced teams in the country, led by three seniors and a junior in the starting lineup. The Tar Heels’ starting lineup has an average age of 22.2, only four months lower than the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

North Carolina’s experience translates to reliable offense and elite defense. According to KenPom, the Tar Heels are one of seven teams in the nation that rank in the Top 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency (No. 16) and adjusted defensive efficiency (No. 6).

Now, let’s look at where Alabama and North Carolina have advantages over one another.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide ranks No. 23 in the nation in offensive rebound rate (33.3%), compared to the Tar Heels at No. 56 (31.3%). When North Carolina records less than a 30% offensive rebound rate, it has an 8-4 record. However, it is 21-3 when it records higher than a 30% offensive rebound rate, per CBB Analytics.

Alabama also has a 3-point shooting advantage. The Tar Heels only have three consistent shooters in their rotation, ranking outside the Top 100 nationally in 3-pointers made (8.0) and 3-point attempts per game (22.4). On the flip side, the Crimson Tide is third in 3-pointers made (11.0) and fourth in 3-point attempts (30.1) while ranking 52 spots higher in 3-point percentage (36.7%).

North Carolina: Though Alabama is coming off its best defensive performance of the season, the Crimson Tide still ranks outside of the Top 100 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency. Alabama’s defensive struggles partially lie on its foul rate (20.3%), which is the worst of any team to make the tournament. North Carolina can take advantage of this with its foul-drawing ability, as it ranks No. 29 in the nation in free-throw attempts per game (22.9).

The Tar Heels also average more defensive rebounds (29.0), fewer turnovers (12.0) and fewer fouls (20.1).

Key matchups

Mark Sears vs. RJ Davis: This star-studded showdown between two of the nation’s top guards will be must-see TV.

Through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Sears is averaging 28 points, eight assists, and 5.5 assists on 47% shooting from beyond the arc.

For Davis, the 6-foot-0 guard is averaging 21 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on 50% shooting from beyond the arc.

Alabama will heavily rely on Sears, and North Carolina will do the same for Davis. Whoever wins this matchup will significantly impact the game’s outcome.

Alabama’s off-ball defense vs. Cormac Ryan: Alabama fans are more than familiar with the name Cormac Ryan. The 6-foot-5 sharpshooter scored 29 points on 7 of 9 shooting from 3 to upset the Crimson Tide in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

Now, as a senior for the Tar Heels, Ryan has the same reputation as a shooter, even with his drop in efficiency (34.3% from 3).

In tournament play, off-ball shooters often become X-factors. Therefore, Alabama must remain focused on Ryan, sticking close to him around screens to prevent him from establishing an early rhythm.

Alabama’s rim protection vs. Armando Bacot: North Carolina will likely look to feed Bacot and get Alabama’s Grant Nelson, Nick Pringle, and Mohamed Wague in foul trouble early. Bacot, a 6-foot-10 center, ranks in the 99th percentile in paint points per game (9.4), the 96th percentile in fouls drawn (4.4), and the 94th percentile in second-chance points (2.8).

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