March Madness: Alabama takes care of business, dusting off Maryland to advance to the Sweet Sixteen

Brandon Miller (left) and Alabama don’t have much trouble sending Maryland into the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 18, 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Birmingham, Ala. – Annoy braces crashed All over America in the first three days of the NCAA Men’s Tournament, but in Birmingham, no. 1 seed Alabama has taken care of its business in an efficient and unquestionable manner. The ebb and flow started slowly but stifled Trips with defensive efficiency, a reminder of the multifaceted threat this team poses to all remaining opponents in the tournament.

Despite suffering an uncharacteristically rough night from the field, Alabama fielded no. 8th seed Maryland 73-51, leaving absolutely no doubt that she will be the odds-on favorite even though she has many games left in her season.

Before a hyper-partisan crowd in Birmingham, Maryland jumped out to an early 9-2 lead. The Terps spent the first half of the game doing what few other teams have been able to do this season: frustrate Alabama with sloppy spell playmaking and poor shooting selection, and stick the Crimson Tide offense in the mud so thick that the total number. One seed didn’t take the lead until just 7:30 in the first half.

Alabama coach Nate Oates predicted the tempo for the first half on Friday afternoon. “They want it to be slower. We’d like it to be faster,” he said in a pre-game press conference. “They’ll press in a way that slows the game down, and we’ll try to attack the press in a way that speeds up the game.”

Maryland’s problem is that Alabama is Hydra. The offense shuts down and the defense finds a way to keep the team in the game. Alabama held Maryland twice in the first half of seven and six minutes without scoring a field goal. A Maryland six-point flurry in the final 90 seconds of the half to pull within five made the halftime score 28 to 23 more palatable, but the slump was contagious; Both teams finished the half shooting at less than 40%.

Prior to the game, Maryland head coach Kevin Willard highly praised Alabama’s roster. “I suspect [Alabama] is the most talented roster I’ve seen in college basketball since the 93-94 Kentucky team,” he said Friday. “This team reminds me of this team in terms of height, athleticism, how selfless they play, and very similar point guards.”

Alabama started the second half looking somewhat like a 93-94 Kentucky team, which lost in the Round of 32, struggling to pull away from a clearly outperformed Maryland. But the Tide inevitably capitalized on Maryland’s cool shooting, and by the time the half reached the 10-minute mark, Alabama had a 15-point lead and the game was within reach.

If there’s been a bright spot for Maryland, it’s that the Terps provided a defensive model of how to at least slow the tide: limit possessions, force Alabama into lopsided mid-range jumpers and make the tide pay for every inside basket. If Maryland can convert a few missed passes and open jumps, it could be a very different outcome. Expect next Tide opponents to watch this game tape frequently.

Saturday night’s match was a rematch, and repeat, of the 2021 round of 32 matches, as it did not take place. 2 seeded Alabama blew the doors then no. 10 seeds Maryland 96-77. The Tide’s 2021 form would fall in an upset in the next round to 11th-ranked UCLA; The future for the 2023 edition remains very bright.

The best news of the night for Alabama – aside from the obvious end result of survival and progression – was Brandon Miller’s triumphant return to top of the box. after one match Failed to score even a single point due to the effects of a thigh injuryHowever, Miller found his footing and scored 19 points, second on the team Jahvon QuinerlyMaryland’s Julian Reese led the Tripps with 14 points but was on the hook for most of the game.

Miller and the entire Alabama team are going to be playing this entire tournament under a cloud thanks He and other current and former players were released on January 1. 15 kills. Jama Harris dies who was shot and killed in the Tuscaloosa StripClose to campus, it looms large during tide season, even as Alabama tries to distance itself from the tragic events of that night. The higher the Tide, the more questions will focus on their performance in March, rather than their actions in January.

The arc devastation of the Southern District gives Alabama a well-lit, if not necessarily open highway, through to the Final Four. The Tide will face fifth seed San Diego State next week in the Sweet 16, with no. 3 Baylor has yet to play its second round game against Creighton on Sunday.

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