Bama Shakes Off Doubts, Rolls into Sweet Sixteen

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, April 4, 2024

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Remember how everyone was counting out Alabama after that rough patch at the end of the season? Well, they clearly didn’t get the memo! The Crimson Tide are back in the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row, and they’re playing some inspired ball. Their offense has been clicking, and senior guard Mark Sears is back to leading the charge. He’s been on fire lately, and it’s showing on the court.

Sure, UConn might be the favorite to win it all again this year but don’t sleep on Alabama. March Madness is all about upsets, and the Tide are playing with a lot of confidence right now. Unlike NHL picks where each game matters more, these college tournament predictions are for the whole run. With Alabama’s overall strength this season, their odds of winning the championship are sitting at a tasty +3500 – not bad for a team nobody expected to be here.

Alabama’s Rollercoaster Ride

Coach Nate Oats’ Alabama team came out of the gates firing on all cylinders this season. Led by their dynamic backcourt of Sears and Estrada, they had one of the most exciting offenses in the country to watch. It was all about spacing the floor, zipping the ball around, and raining down threes – pure fun for any college basketball fan. They bolted out to a great record, 19-7, and looked like they could really make a run at the national title.

Then things hit a rough patch. They lost four out of their last six games, including a tough loss to Florida in the SEC Tournament. Not exactly the way you want to head into March Madness.

The Tide Washes Away the Doubt in Spokane

Alabama came into March Madness with something to prove. Their record (21-11) wasn’t super impressive, and they’d just lost a tough one in the SEC Tournament. On top of that, their first game was against a sneaky-good College of Charleston team. Things weren’t looking easy.

But the Tide turned things around in a big way in Spokane! Mark Sears went OFF, scoring a career-high 30 points. He was hitting tough threes, driving past defenders for crazy layups, and dishing out sweet assists to his teammates. The rest of the team got hot too, especially senior guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. who chipped in 17 points.

Alabama shot lights-out all night, hitting a whopping 60% of their shots! That kind of firepower is tough to stop, and they cruised to a 109-96 victory. Not only did they win, but they also set a new school record for points scored in an NCAA Tournament game – talk about a statement.

Alabama Survives a Scare Against Scrappy Grand Canyon

Alabama’s Sweet Sixteen run wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. Their second-round matchup against the 12th-seeded Grand Canyon Lopes was a real nail-biter. These guys have the stingiest defense in the country, ranked 11th overall, and they came to play! Led by a hustler named Jovan Blacksher Jr., they were all over Alabama’s ball-handlers, clogging lanes and making every shot a fight. They even held the Tide 19 points below their usual scoring average – that’s tough!

The first half was a defensive struggle. Alabama, used to putting up big numbers, just couldn’t find their rhythm. But give it up to Mark Sears – this guy wouldn’t be denied! He fought his way inside for tough layups and drained some clutch threes to keep them in the game. It was a back-and-forth battle, with Grand Canyon even taking the lead late in the second half!

That’s when Sears went into takeover mode. He exploded for a whopping 16 points in the final ten minutes alone! We’re talking a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds – clutch shooting and creating his own offense under pressure. Talk about a star performance!

Alabama’s defense, led by the shot-blocking force of Noah Gurley, also stepped up big time. They shut down Grand Canyon’s outside shooters, holding them to a measly 2 for 20 from three-point land – ouch! In the end, the Tide pulled out a hard-fought 72-61 victory and punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row. Phew, that was close!

The Tide Turns: What’s Fueled Alabama’s Tournament Run?

One of the hottest stories in the NCAA Tournament is the incredible play of Mark Sears for Alabama. This guy can do it all – drain threes, attack the basket with his strength, and dish out dimes to his teammates. But it’s not just his skills that have everyone talking – it’s his leadership on the court too. He’s a vocal leader, calling plays, keeping everyone on the same page, and bringing tons of hustle and heart to every single game.

Sears isn’t a one-man show though. The whole team has stepped up! Forward Noah Clowney has been a rock, consistently putting up points and grabbing rebounds. Veterans like guard Aaron Estrada bring experience and defensive intensity to the table, which is crucial in March Madness. Coach Oats deserves some credit too. He’s tweaked their strategy to find a better balance – playing tough defense without sacrificing their explosive offense. It’s working like a charm!

Alabama’s on a Mission, But Can They Upset the Tar Heels?

Sure, reaching the Sweet Sixteen is a cause for celebration, but for Alabama, it’s just the next stop on their journey. The competition gets tougher from here, with the #1 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels looming large in their upcoming matchup this Thursday in Los Angeles.

Remember that early-season slump and the whispers about them flaming out? Yeah, that narrative’s been flipped on its head. Alabama has transformed into a real threat, a team nobody can overlook. Their ability to bounce back and adapt has been truly impressive. Mark Sears has been leading the charge, and the rest of the team is playing with a newfound confidence. They’re on a mission to prove they belong with the nation’s best, and they’re not afraid of anyone.

Sure, they might not be the favorites against North Carolina, but hey, they’ve already surprised everyone once, right? Can they pull off another upset and make a run all the way to the Final Four? We’ll find out in the coming days, but one thing’s for sure – Alabama’s Sweet Sixteen appearance is a sign of their fighting spirit and a glimpse of what they’re capable of achieving. Buckle up, college basketball fans, this is gonna be a good one!