Can the Alabama Crimson Tide realistically make a Final Four run?

Despite being the No. 1 overall seed last year, the Alabama Crimson Tide got a sneaky bad draw in the NCAA Tournament as they were eliminated in the Sweet 16 by the eventual national champion runner-up San Diego Aztecs. This year things look a whole lot more appealing for the Tide who won’t have a massive target on their back as the top-ranked team.

Instead, they enter this year’s contest as a four-seed in the West region having already played one of the most difficult schedules in the country. Fortunately, Alabama does not have to play until Friday so they’ll have some time to adjust to the time change of playing in Spokane, WA.

In the Round of 64, Alabama will face Charleston who has won 12 straight games and enters the Tournament as hot as anyone in the country. However, the Cougars are ranked 176th nationally defensively according to KenPom, so the Alabama offense should have their way. It’ll be a busy day from beyond the arc as both teams are stupendous from three and rank top four nationally in attempts per game (Alabama 30.3, Charleston 30.6). Alabama is a 10-5 point favorite per FanDuel, so I think it is safe to predict the Tide survive on Friday.

From there, I think taking on St. Mary’s on the West Coast will be a tough ask, but I think the Tide are a much more talented team. The Gaels went 15-1 in the regular season to be named conference champions as well as taking down Gonzaga to claim the WCC Tournament Championship. If Alabama has another low intensity afternoon on the defensive end they can absolutely bounced, but I think Oats knows the one thing he has yet to do at Alabama is make a deep run in March.

Alabama could potentially face the lowest one-seed, the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Sweet 16 who have already lost seven games this season and enter the Tournament off a loss to unranked in-state rival NC State. The bottom of the bracket is anyone’s guess, but secretly, Alabama is hoping to get a rematch with Arizona in the Elite 8. The Wildcats knocked off Alabama by 13 in Phoenix, AZ back in December, but I think that’s a very winnable matchup for Oats’ squad.

The Crimson Tide struggled a bit to conclude the regular season, so they have some serious soul searching to do, but I believe they are nearly as talented as anyone nationwide. All things considered too, it was a very favorable draw for the Tide and I think this is the year they make the final four run.

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Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire