"Alabama's length and athleticism across the board is something that we really haven't seen this year," Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. "They can disrupt things on the perimeter. (Trevor) Releford is great on the ball. (Levi) Randolph causes a lot of havoc on the ball. And yet they still erase a lot of mistakes because of (JaMychal) Green's ability to block shots and change shots in the paint. So they're different than what we've seen, without question.
Creighton loves to score in a hurry; the Bluejays averaged 80 points per game and scored 90 or more nine times this season. Alabama prefers to play at a relative snail’s pace, limiting its opponents to only 58.1 points per game, fewest in the SEC and ninth-fewest in NCAA Division I. Their contrasting styles will meet in a Midwest Region second-round game at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday. "It’s tough for us to simulate," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "But we’re not going to change anything that we do. We’re going to shoot a bunch of 3s, we’re going to try to jam it inside, we’re going to try to fly it up and down the floor, just like we have played all year. You can’t change anything at this stage of the game."
No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Alabama: Arguably the most intriguing stylistic clash in the entire round of 64, this one puts Creighton's all-offense attack up against one of the nation's most athletic and physical defensive teams. The Bluejays' offense and the Tide's defense both rank among the nation's 10 best per-possession in their respective categories, but the inverse is also true: Creighton's defense (ranked No. 180 in KenPom) and Alabama's offense (ranked No. 112) serve as each team's obvious weaknesses. It's unstoppable force/immovable object stuff, and it should be fascinating to watch.
Alabama can be quite ugly on offense (the Tide is Medusa-like from 3-point range), but the Tide generally plays lockdown defense. Creighton is an excellent offensive team (80.0 ppg, 50.9 FG pct.), but frequently is lax on defense. Creighton’s key guy is F Doug McDermott, who is incredibly efficient on offense (23.2 ppg, 61.0 FG pct., 49.5 3-pt FG pct., 79.9 FT pct.). What will the Tide do to slow him? Look for Alabama to get the ball to JaMychal Green, who should be effective against Creighton’s frontcourt. If Green is stymied, the Tide is in trouble; it shoots an unsightly 28.5 percent from 3-point range.
"Our guys have done a good job of understanding who we are and what we need to do to have the best chance to win,'' Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "So it will be a challenge for us to make sure we're affecting the game in the ways that we affect games.''
After a freshman year that was forsaken, a sophomore year that was forgettable and a junior year that was forlorn, JaMychal Green finally comes to the forefront of college basketball. Forgive him if the NCAA tournament seems like foreign territory. "This is a new experience for me," Alabama's star senior forward said Thursday, a day before the Crimson Tide's first NCAA tournament game since 2006. "I'm trying to have a good time and keep business-minded."
Doug McDermott has seen his fair share of gimmick defenses this season and chances are the Crimson Tide will have something in store for him. "Coach Grant just preaching to us just like our defense intensity is bringing it every day and trying to stop the opponent from scoring," said Alabama’s Trevor Releford. "That’s what we live off of — our defense. That’s what we’re going to try to bring to the game."
University of Alabama head basketball coach Anthony Grant isn't much for outside motivation or bulletin board material, so it has not been a big issue that Creighton coaches and players have fielded far more questions about a potential third-round matchup with North Carolina, even while the Crimson Tide is a 1.5-point favorite in today's matchup with the Bluejays. Still, Alabama fans have noted, especially in some of the stories out of Omaha early in the week. Alabama radio color commentator (and former player) Bryan Passink even commented on Twitter that there were "a lot of Carolina questions" at Creighton's Thursday press conference.
The top-ranked Alabama softball team (22-0, 3-0 SEC) returns home from its cross country trek to host Mississippi (13-9, 2-0 SEC) in a three-game Southeastern Conference series. The two teams will open the series on Friday, March 16 with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, ESPNU will televise the contest at 5 p.m., with Mark Neely and Michele Smith on the call. The series finale is set for Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Heading into its regular-season finale against North Carolina this Friday, the Alabama gymnastics team once again finds itself among the national leaders when it comes to women's collegiate athletics attendance. Alabama, which has averaged 13,742 fans per meet this season, is once again among the top three when it comes to women's attendance, standing alongside Tennessee basketball and Utah gymnastics as the only programs to draw more than 11,000 per event this season.
The search for an elite quarterback is at the center of the Alabama Crimson Tide's 2013 recruiting efforts, and the latest name added to the list of potential targets is Raleigh, North Carolina star Connor Mitch. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback has seen his stock rise quickly in recent weeks with LSU, Tennessee and West Virginia all extending scholarship offers to Mitch. Alabama's Nick Saban became the latest to offer Mitch a scholarship during a phone conversation earlier this week, according to a report from BamaOnline.