GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY

Who is GCU’s next NCAA Tournament opponent? A look at the Alabama Crimson Tide

Mar 23, 2024, 3:45 PM | Updated: 3:47 pm

Mark Sears #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts against the Charleston Cougars during the first ha...

Mark Sears #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts against the Charleston Cougars during the first half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 22, 2024 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

After defeating Charleston 109-96 on Friday behind 30 points from guard Mark Sears, the Alabama Crimson Tide will now look to Sunday’s matchup with Grand Canyon.

The Crimson Tide (22-11) are a team that is known to score and average a nation’s-best 91.3 points per game. Nate Oats’ team outscores opponents by 9.8 points per game and average 107.4 points per 100 possessions (fourth-most in the nation). Friday was the 10th time Alabama scored at least 100 points in a game this season.

But while Alabama has the highest-scoring offense in the country, they’re also known to give up a lot of points. Their opponents have averaged 93.7 points per game in the past 10 games.

After allowing 34 points in the first half, the Crimson Tide allowed 62 points in the second half on Friday.

“We’ve had this issue with this team all year,” Oats said Friday after the game. “I think they play the scoreboard too much. We built a 31-point lead and I would have to go look and see what the last seven, eight minutes of that game (looked like). We just got up 31 and we quit guarding, which is a little frustrating, but it’s not the time of the year to really kind of jump these guys right after you just scored 109 points in an NCAA tournament game.”

Alabama began the regular season 6-5 before winning 15 of its final 20 games.

But Friday’s win came after Alabama ended the season dropping four of its past six games coming into the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide lost by 14 to Florida in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals and Alabama allowed at least 100 points in three of those losses.

“So to go through a little adversity and still have these guys come together and really play as hard as they did tonight, as hard as they played for each other, as good as they did on the defensive end when we struggled to guard at times, I think that’s the most fulfilling,” Oats said.

Alabama is also a threat from deep. The Crimson Tide average 11.1 three-pointers per game (the second most in the nation).

Sears leads the Tide by averaging 2.4 made 3-pointers per game while shooting at a 43.3% clip.

The senior guard is averaging 21.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 50.9% from the field during the season. Friday marked the fourth time this season he has scored at least 30 points.

“I just wanted to be aggressive early, get by my guy and make something happen for others or if nobody was in front of me, have a layup,” Sears said Friday.

The Crimson Tide are also led by fourth-year guard Aaron Estrada, who finished with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in Friday’s win.

After going 0-for-5 from the field and finishing with zero points in a January win over Auburn, Estrada recorded his 14th consecutive game with at least 10 points on Friday.

The winner of Sunday’s game will advance to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles on Thursday against either No. 1 North Carolina or No. 9 Michigan State.

The Crimson Tide have struggled against better teams all season. The Tide have a 4-10 Quad 1 record, but a 8-1 Quad 2 record, a 7-0 Quad 3 record and a 3-0 Quad 4 record.

Alabama is 5-3 under Oats in the NCAA Tournament and also reached the Sweet 16 last season as a No. 1 seed by falling to San Diego State.

Time and TV channel for Grand Canyon vs. Alabama in NCAA Tournament 2nd round

Grand Canyon’s matchup against Alabama is set for Sunday at 4:10 p.m. MST on TBS. Alabama is a 6.5-point favorite.

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