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Purdue Basketball: Alabama Preview

The Boilermakers and Tide take their talents to the great white north for a basketball showcase. Here’s what to expect from Alabama.

NCAA Basketball: Emerald Coast Classic-Mercer at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Crimson Tide (6-2) - Ken Pom #13

Basic Information

Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Type of School: Public

Mascot: Big Al (the elephant)

Head Coach - Nate Oats

Seasons at Alabama: 5

Career Record: 194 - 87

Regular Season Conference Championships: 4 (Buffalo 2, Alabama 2)

Conference Tournament Championships: 5 (Buffalo 3, Alabama 2)

NCAA Appearances: 6

Final 4 Appearances: 0

Kenpom Style of Play

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Adj. Efficiency: 122.0 (2)

Avg. Poss. Length: 13.8 (3)

Defense

Adj. Efficiency: 99.4

Avg. Poss. Length: 18.6 (342)

Tempo

Adj. Tempo: 73.1 (29)

Kenpom 4 Factors

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Effective FG%: 58.7 (9)

Turnover %: 16.1 (91)

Off. Reb. %: 36.9 (23)

FTA/FGA: 46.9 (14)

Defense

Effective FG%: 49.8 (171)

Turnover %: 17.4 (204)

Off. Reb. %: 27.4 (111)

FTA/FGA: 35.2 (226)

Personnel

Alabama Starters

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Center 2 Grant Nelson Sr. 6'11" 230 N.D. State 27.1 14 6.3 2 0.8 1.6
Power Forward 15 Jarin Stevenson Fr. 6'11" 210 18.3 7.6 3.6 0.4 0.3 0.6
Small Forward 3 Rylan Griffen So. 6'6" 190 23.5 8 2.5 1.4 0.4 0.4
Shooting Guard 1 Mark Sears Sr. 6'1" 185 Ohio 28.5 19.8 4.5 4.4 1.3 0.1
Point Guard 55 Aaron Estrada Sr. 6'3" 190 St. Peter's 27.1 16.4 4.3 3 1.5 0.3

Untitled

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Shooting Guard 12 Latrell Wrightsell Sr. 6'3" 190 Cal State Ful 22.5 6 3 1.4 1.5 0
Power Forward / Center 23 Nick Pringle Sr. 6'10" 230 Wofford 15.7 6 4.4 0.6 0.3 0.7
Forward 24 Sam Walters Fr. 6'10" 200 12.4 5.8 2.3 0.4 0.4 0
Center 11 Mohamed Wague Jr. 6'10" 225 West Virginia 12.4 5.4 3.9 0.9 1.1 1

Playing Style

Note: Some of this comes directly from the Clemson vs Alabama preview .

Offense

Alabama will push the pace, then push the pace, and when they’re done pushing the pace, they push the pace yet again. Their half-court and transition offense are similar; everything goes to the rim. Their guards are quick, and their big men are athletic and can finish. When a guard goes to the basket, he always has a roll man in tow. Sometimes it’s a pick and roll, and sometimes it’s a big simply rolling down from the top of the foul line. Either way, Estrada and Sears are a problem if you let them get in the paint, and teams have a hard time keeping them out of the paint.

Their outside shooting is mainly set up off kick-outs, and their starters are shooting an absurd percentage from deep:

  • Sears: 52%
  • Estrada: 45%
  • Griffen: 38%
  • Stevenson: 39%
  • Nelson: 28%

They average 15 attempts a game as a unit. Then they bring this off the bench:

  • Latrell Wrightsell: 46%
  • Same Walters: 47%

It’s all about stopping the ball for Purdue. Sears and Estrada are going to try and turn the corner on the pick and roll, get two feet in the paint, and decide if they want to continue to the rim or kick-out to a shooter. The Boilermakers need to make them take contested 2’s instead of open 3’s.

They also need to stay tight on picks; otherwise, Sears and Estrada will rise and fire without hesitation. If Edey drops instead of hedging, they’re going to fire away off a high screen all night long. When he does hedge, I expect Sears and Estrada to attack Edey off the bounce. It’s nothing Zach hasn’t seen before, but I’m not sure he’s experienced it against a team with this level of shooters. If you can’t defend your man, Alabama makes you pay.

The key to stopping Alabama is dealing with their initial and secondary break. Ideally, they want to score in transition. If that’s not available, they want to score off their first action. This isn’t a team that’s going to work to get the perfect shot. The first guy that has a decent look at the rim pulls the trigger. The longer Purdue makes the Crimson Tide play offense, the more they’re going to turn the ball over.

In their loss to Clemson, the Tigers held them to 31% shooting from deep. They did that by not overhelping on shooters, even on dribble drives. Sears got his, hitting 4-9 from deep, but Nelson and Estrada went a combined 4-16, and Griffen only hit 1-4. That’s the formula for success for the Boilermakers. One guy can get hot, but you can’t let the other guys feed off that and get hot as well.

One thing to keep an eye on is offensive rebounding. Alabama crashes the glass hard, rebounding 37% of their missed opportunities. They also chase down a ton of long rebounds. Purdue’s guards need to check out and rebound before thinking about heading down the court because you don’t want to give this team easy.

Defense

Alabama wants to score fast and then make you burn the entire shot clock on offense. They jam ball handlers in the backcourt with 40 feet of man pressure when they are so inclined. Oats turns the full-court pressure on and off, depending on his mood. His press isn’t super aggressive; it’s more annoying than anything, but it makes teams burn clock getting the ball up the court. Purdue’s guards have to be strong with the ball because turnovers are death against the Tide. They tend to lead to open run-out 3’s or dunks for the Tide. The Boilermakers have punished pressure teams this season, and I look forward to them punishing Bama on Saturday.

Other than their pressure, this is an average to bad defensive team. Clemson touched them up for 85, and Ohio State dropped a 92 piece on them, including a cool 52 points combined from the Buckeyes’ starting backcourt.

Ball movement against this team leads to open shots. Get them scrambling, and they’ll forget the assignment and leave someone wide open. Edey is going to get his in the paint, but it’s going to come down to guards and wings hitting outside shots.

Luckily for the Boilermakers, I have this nugget of wisdom to pass along:

(I highly recommend following this guy on Twitter)

Purdue hits open shots they win.

Purdue misses open shots they lose.

Sometimes basketball is an easy game. This is one such occasion.

Matchup to Watch

Grant Nelson vs his leg

Nelson, a former star at North Dakota State, is a key piece of their attack. He can draw Edey out of the paint with his ability to shoot the ball. I was also expecting a few Edey vs. Nelson iso’s on the defensive end. Nelson has decent handles and could pose a challenge because Zach has to come out and guard him.

However, Nelson hasn’t practiced all week. As of yesterday, he was going to try and give it a go at practice today and be a “game-time decision” on Saturday. Alabama has aspirations in the SEC, and I don’t see them jeopardizing one of their key players before the start of conference play.

If Nelson can’t go or is significantly limited, Alabama is going to have to hit an absurd number of 3’s to hang with Purdue. Edey’s ability to eat on the glass alone could win the game for Purdue with Nelson out of the game.

Prediction

KenPom

Purdue - 85

Alabama - 80

Confidence: 68%

Drew

Purdue - 102

Alabama - 83

Nelson doesn’t play, Edey puts up 30+ and the Boilermakers put this one away early in the second half.

When teams try to run with Purdue (looking at you, Iowa) and let the game flow, it’s a wrap. It seems like you should be able to run Purdue off the court, but they tend to demolish teams that try. I anticipate Purdue demolishing a dinged-up Alabama. They’ve lost 2 of the 3 games where they failed to hit 90 points. Their win was in a blowout of Arkansas State.

Purdue takes the win, and Zach Edey is named the most physically imposing Canadian since Dino Bravo.

Podcast Preview

Garrett and I talk about this game in our most recent podcast episode. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts or use one of the links below.

Spotify

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