BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Upsets wrecked brackets throughout America within the NCAA males’s event’s first three days, however in Birmingham, No. 1 seed Alabama took care of its enterprise in environment friendly, zero-doubt style. The Tide began gradual however smothered the Terps with defensive effectivity, a reminder of the multifaceted risk this workforce poses to all remaining opponents within the event.
Despite struggling an uncharacteristically tough night time from the sphere, Alabama dispatched No. 8 seed Maryland 73-51, leaving little question in anyway that they will be the seemingly favorites in nonetheless many video games stay of their season.
Before a closely partisan Birmingham crowd, Maryland leaped out to an early 9-2 lead. The Terps spent the primary half of the sport doing what few different groups have been ready to do that season: irritating Alabama into sloppy offensive playmaking and poor shot choice, sticking the Crimson Tide offense in mud so thick that the general No. 1 seed didn’t even take its first lead till simply 7:30 remained within the first half.
Alabama head coach Nate Oats predicted the first-half tempo on Friday afternoon. “They’d like it to be slower. We’d like it to be faster,” he stated in his pregame information convention. “They’re going to press in a way that slows the game down, and we’re going to try to attack the press in a way that speeds the game up.”
The downside for Maryland is that Alabama is a hydra; shut down the offense and the protection finds a strategy to hold the workforce within the recreation. Alabama held Maryland to 2 separate first-half stretches of seven and 6 minutes with out scoring a subject aim. A flurry of six Maryland factors within the last 90 seconds of the half to tug inside 5 made the 28-23 first-half rating just a little extra palatable, however the sloppiness was infectious; each groups ended the half capturing lower than 40%.
Prior to the sport, Maryland head coach Kevin Willard provided excessive reward for the Alabama roster. “I think [Alabama] is the most talented roster I’ve seen in college basketball since the ’93-’94 Kentucky team,” he stated Friday. “This team reminds me of that team with the length, athleticism, how unselfish they play, very similar point guards.”
Alabama started the second half trying a bit like that ‘93-’94 Kentucky workforce, which misplaced within the spherical of 32, struggling to tug away from a clearly outmatched Maryland. But the Tide inevitably took benefit of Maryland’s stone-cold capturing, and by the point the half hit the 10-minute mark Alabama had a 15-point lead and the sport was just about in hand.
If there is a vivid spot for Maryland, it is that the Terps offered a defensive template for learn how to a minimum of decelerate the Tide: restrict possessions, power Alabama into off-balance midrange jumpers and make the Tide pay for each inside basket. If Maryland might have transformed even a number of extra of its missed layups and open jumpers, this might have been a really totally different end result. Expect the Tide’s upcoming opponents to look at the tape of this recreation on repeat.
Saturday night time’s recreation was a rematch, and repeat, of a 2021 spherical of 32 recreation, the place then-No. 2 seed Alabama blew the doorways off then-No. 10 seed Maryland 96-77. The 2021 mannequin Tide would fall in an upset within the subsequent spherical to Eleventh-seeded UCLA; the 2023 model’s future stays very vivid.
The finest information of the night time for Alabama — other than the apparent survive-and-advance last rating — was the triumphant return of Brandon Miller to the highest of the field rating. One recreation after he failed to attain even a single level as a result of results of a groin damage, Miller discovered his footing and scored 19 factors, second on the workforce to Jahvon Quinerly’s 22. Maryland’s Julian Reese led the Terps with 14 factors however was in foul bother a lot of the recreation.
Miller and your complete Alabama workforce will likely be taking part in this entire event below a cloud because of his and different present and former gamers’ presence at a Jan. 15 killing. The loss of life of Jamea Harris, who was shot and killed on Tuscaloosa’s Strip, close to campus, looms massive over the Tide’s season, at the same time as Alabama makes an attempt to distance itself from the tragic occasions of that night time. The additional the Tide advance, the extra the questions will give attention to their efficiency in March, not their actions in January.
The bracket devastation within the South Region offers Alabama a well-lit path, if not essentially an open freeway, by to the Final Four. The Tide will face fifth-seeded San Diego State subsequent week within the Sweet 16, with No. 3 Baylor but to play its second-round matchup towards Creighton on Sunday.