After being awarded the No. 1 overall seed Sunday evening, Alabama was still unsure of their opponent, having to await the winner of Tuesday's play-in game between Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Southeast Missouri State. Not knowing which team would emerge as their first-round opponent, coach Nate Oats spoke briefly about both during his Monday evening "Hey Coach" radio show.
"They're both good programs," Oats said. "You don't make the NCAA tournament without being good. Corpus Christi won their league. SEMO made a run in the tournament, made it. They both play fast, which is good and bad. It's good because, obviously, we've got more talent than them, we're the No. 1 overall seed, and they're the No. 16 seed. When you've got more talent, you like to have more possessions.
"So it's good that hopefully, if either one of them tries to slow it down, that's not really how they play. So we'd like the game fast ourselves, plus we're the more talented team, so that's good. The one bad thing is, they could get going up and down and maybe get loose a little bit because they can shoot some threes."
Tuesday night Texas A&M-Corpus Christi came out victorious against Southeast Missouri State 75-71 in the play-in game, finalizing the opponent for the No. 1 seed in the South region of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. After their victory Tuesday, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Steve Lutz was asked about Thursday's opponent, No. 1 seed Alabama.
"They're really, really talented," Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Steve Lutz told TruTV after Tuesday's win. "We faced Arizona earlier in the year. Very similar in terms of they can really score points. We're not going to be able to score 77 points and win. You're going to have to get 80-plus to beat them. Super talented, well coached."
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will come into Thursday's matchup having won 13 of their last 14 games, winning both the Southland Conference regular season title and tournament title this season, with an offense that relies heavily on sinking three-pointers and hitting free throws. The Islanders shot 37% from beyond the arc and 79% from the free-throw line. If the Islanders can get hot from behind the arc, they could keep the game closer than Alabama would like, but very unlikely that they can pull off the upset and overcome the amount of talent and depth that the Crimson Tide will put on the floor. History is also not on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's side, as the No. 1 seeds have a 147-1 record against No. 16 seeds.
Alabama's first-round game Thursday will tip-off at 1:45 p.m. CT in Birmingham's Legacy Arena, following potential second-round opponents No. 8 seed Maryland and No. 9 seed West Virginia.
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