Who should Clemson be concerned about in Elite 8?

Clemson might face their toughest matchup of the tournament against the fast-paced offensive attack of Alabama.
Nov 28, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
Nov 28, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA / Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson Men’s Basketball has shocked even their own fanbase with three wins in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Elite Eight.

While their next opponent, the Alabama Crimson Tide, isn’t the highest seed they will have faced in the tournament (Arizona is a 2-seed, Alabama is a 3-seed), they are likely to be the toughest matchup thus far because of their style of play.

Alabama has made a mark during this tournament for its fast-paced style of play. Analysts have commented on how they appear chaotic and unorganized on the surface.

The flip side of this observation is that the Crimson Tide’s pace wears other teams out and catches them off guard. This makes getting back on defense crucial for any of Alabama’s opponents.

This approach isn’t new, but the Tide is executing it much better recently than earlier in the season.

This will be a rematch of a contest that was played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in November. The Tigers were victorious on the road 85-77. The Crimson Tide shot 34.3% on field goals and 31.4% on 3-pointers.

In contrast, Alabama shot 47.8% from the floor and 42.3% on 3-pointers on Thursday night against North Carolina. They were even better against the College of Charleston in the first round.

Some prognosticators were down on the Tide going into the Sweet Sixteen because they weren’t particularly efficient against Grand Canyon in the second round, shooting only 25.8% from 3-point range.

Clemson Men's Basketball's defense will be tested by Alabama's fast-paced transition offense

Clemson has been solid defensively in this tournament but they will need their best performance yet, especially guarding the perimeter. Rylen Griffen was particularly effective from 3-point range against UNC.

Mark Sears is the Tide’s leading scorer. He averages 21.4 points per contest. Sears and guard Aaron Estrada do not need to rely on 3-pointers. They scored 18 points and 19 points respectively while only making three 3-pointers combined against the Tar Heels. They score many of their points while in transition.

Senior forward Grant Nelson had his best game of the tournament against North Carolina. After only scoring 3 points in each of Alabama’s first two tournament games, Nelson exploded for 24 points and 12 rebounds.

On the injury front, Latrell Wrightsell missed the UNC game with a head injury that was sustained during Alabama’s win against Grand Canyon. He will be a game-time decision on Saturday.