A spot in the Elite Eight is on the line Friday when the San Diego State Aztecs and Alabama Crimson Tide battle it out from the KFC Yum! Center in Kentucky. Each team has plenty of defensive similarities but plays at very different tempos.
San Diego State Aztecs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (-7.5, 137)
Entering Friday, Alabama ranks sixth in the nation in total possessions per game while San Diego State ranks 260th. Unlike previous seasons, San Diego State has experience playing at a fast tempo.
Through its first 11 games of the season, San Diego State ranked 62nd in the nation in total possessions per game. This mark was similar to both the Memphis Tigers and Iowa Hawkeyes at the time before going back to a slower brand of basketball, suggesting the Aztecs can play at a high level and the Crimson Tide’s pace.
Both teams excel at guarding the 3-point arc, with Alabama ranking third in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage and San Diego State ranking fourth. The real question is whether or not there should be an asterisk on Alabama’s 3-point shooting defense numbers, however.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) had the worst collective 3-point shooting percentage among power conferences and, six teams that ranked in the bottom 60 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage were part of the conference.
The Crimson Tide’s offense also relies much more on 3-pointers, attempting 47.5% of their shots from 3-point range, good for the 8th-highest percentage in the nation. By comparison, the Aztecs attempt 34.7% of their shots from 3-point range, good for 266th in the nation.
While Alabama has given up fewer points per possession this season, ranking fourth in the nation in points allowed per possession, its turnover total goes a long way in canceling out the edge. In comparison, San Diego State ranks 15th in this category.
In games played on the road, Alabama ranks 249th in turnovers committed per possession and can’t bank on a lot of second-chance opportunities on the glass with San Diego State ranking 27th in rebound rate.
With San Diego State much more equipped to go against an uptempo team coupled with Alabama’s heavy reliance on making 3-point shots, the Aztecs will push the Crimson Tide to the brink and put another one-seed on upset alert.
The Play: San Diego State +7.5
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