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No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Iona preview for NCAA Tournament first-round matchup

The No. 2 Alabama and No. 15 Iona face off in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of what and how to watch following Selection Sunday.

Alabama Crimson Tide guard Jaden Shackelford brings the ball up court during the second half against the Oklahoma Sooners on January 30, 2021 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman Oklahoma. Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday, March 18th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. No. 2 seed Alabama will face No. 15 seed Iona in the first round. Game time has yet to be announced but we will update this article with that and game odds as soon as it comes available. For now, we’ve got a preliminary preview of the two teams to get you ready for March Madness!

Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.

Game date: Saturday, March 20
Game time: 4 p.m.
TV channel: TBS
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse

Odds: TBD

No. 2 Alabama

The Alabama Crimson Tide emerged as one of the biggest surprises of the 2020-21 college basketball season. Predicted to finish fifth in the SEC, they quickly separated themselves from the rest of the group to win the regular season conference title. The Crimson Tide program appears to be in very good hands moving forward in just the second season under head coach Nate Oats. Alabama’s biggest strength is on the defensive end of the floor where the Tide rank No. 1 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.

The Crimson Tide don’t wow you on the stat sheet individually, but this is an incredibly well-balanced team heading into the tournament. Sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game, and senior forward Herbert Jones does it all for the Tide, leading the team in rebounding (5.7 per game), assists (3) and steals (1.7) to go along with his 11.7 points per game average.

Record: 23-6, 13-2 SEC
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 36
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 1
Against The Spread: 17-11-1
Over Total: 13-16
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +1300

No. 15 Iona

The Iona Gaels missed a lot of time this season due to COVID-19. However, that didn’t stop them from winning the MAAC title game in Rick Pitino’s first season. Iona finished the season with a record of 12-5 and defeated Fairfield 60-51 in the championship. This will be the school’s 15th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Gaels are averaging 72.2 points per game and only giving up 65.9 points per game.

Isaiah Ross is the team’s best player, averaging 18.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. He is also shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three-point range. For his efforts, Ross was named to the All-MAAC first team along, while his teammate Nelly Junior Joseph was to the All-MAAC All-Rookie team. Junior Joseph is averaging 11.4 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per game.

Record: 12-5, 6-3 MAAC
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 210
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 160
ATS: 11-5-1
Over Total: 9-8
Odds to win NCAA Championship: N/A