The first major test of the Nate Oats era will take place on Wednesday afternoon in the Bahamas. Alabama (2-2) will take on the #6 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-0) in round 1 of the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis. This tournament as a whole will be a huge opportunity for the Crimson Tide to pick up some key wins. It all starts with UNC, though, and their star PG Cole Anthony. Anthony is one of the best freshman players in the country averaging almost 23 PPG, 8 RPG, and 4.5 APG. The Tar Heels aren’t the only one with a star at that position as Alabama PG Kira Lewis has been getting the attention of scouts all across the country with his play over the first 4 games. He’s averaging almost 22 PPG and has been a very efficient shooter from the field at 51.7%. When you take a deeper look at both teams as a whole, two things separate North Carolina from Alabama. First off, UNC is the best rebounding team in the country with 51.2 RPG according to TeamRankings (TeamRankings.com). Secondly, they’re really good defensively only allowing opponents to score an average of 62.2 PPG. Meanwhile for Alabama, they’re averaging 42.5 RPG and allowing opponents to score an average of 76.5 PPG. UNC has the advantage here in both areas, and this is where the game will be won or lost for the Tide. They’ve got to keep the rebounding differential close and hit open shots against this stingy Tar Heel defense, as well as cut down on the turnovers which have been problematic thus far. If Alabama can’t do this, it could get ugly. The area Alabama does have an advantage is PPG and FG%. Alabama is averaging 79.5 PPG while shooting 43.7% from the field compared to UNC’s 76.5 PPG and 42.6%.
Key Players for UNC:
G Cole Anthony (22.8 PPG, 8 RPG, 4.5 APG)
F Garrison Brooks (12 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3 APG)
F Armando Bacot (10.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG)
Alabama is coming into this game with a 2-2 record after hitting some early bumps along the way. There were a lot of positive signs in the last game against Furman which resulted in a win, but North Carolina and Cole Anthony are a different animal. Alabama is young and still learning a new system and it’s always hard to pick against Roy Williams.