#4 Alabama vs #15 Gonzaga: What to watch for, where to stream, and key points going into this Top 25 matchup

By: OutOfSightSports

Date: 12/16/22

#4 Alabama vs #15 Gonzaga: What to watch for, where to stream, and key points going into this Top 25 matchup

The Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Courtney Cox Arena in Birmingham, Alabama tomorrow at 1 pm ET on CBS.

Alabama is playing their third straight opponent ranked among the top 15 teams in the country in #15 Gonzaga. Alabama is one of only two teams in the country, along with Arizona, to have three victories over teams ranked in the top 25 as well.

Brandon Miller of Alabama is currently dropping the most points per game for a freshman this year in the country, averaging 18.5 points while also pulling down 8.4 rebounds a game. A year ago, when these two squads played against each other in Seattle, the Crimson Tide emerged victorious. The Zags have a record of 6-1 versus teams ranked in the top 5 during the REGULAR season since 2018-19. Their lone defeat came at the hands of Duke on a court that was regarded as neutral Las Vegas. Even if I don’t want to acknowledge it, Bama is, at the very least in my opinion, doing all in their power to convince me that they belong among the top five teams in the country at this time. T his is an extremely important game for Gonzaga as well, because a loss would bring their overall record to a lackluster 8-4, despite their best wins coming against Michigan State, Xavier, and Kentucky. Additionally, according to the statistics, the Zags’ victory over Kent State was really a more impressive victory than their victory over the Washington Huskies. If they were to lose to Alabama tomorrow, their record would still not be disastrous, but it would not be good enough to merit a spot in the top 25. If the Zags want to have ANY hope of getting a 1-seed at this point, which is highly improbable, they are going to have to absolutely run the table from this point onward. They have played and lost to Texas, Purdue, and Baylor, all of whom are considered to be really formidable teams who I just do not see them taking down in a rematch at this current point in time. With that being said, it seems like the WCC has taken a step forward, meaning Gonzaga will play a slightly stronger conference schedule for their standards. If they are unable to win this game, I believe that even getting a two seed will be an exceedingly difficult assignment for them.

We’ve become accustomed to Gonzaga at the top for the past five years, with a 1 seed last year, a 1 seed the year before that, what would have been a 1 seed in 2020 if the tournament wasn’t called off due to Covid, 1 seed in 2019, 1 seed in 2017, and a 2 seed in 2015. Given how their season has started and how the duration of it unfolds, the Bulldogs may find themselves in some new ground when it comes to seeding. Timme will be crucial. As previously said, all three of their losses were against good teams, and all of them easily qualify as quad 1 losses. There’s nothing particularly shameful about it; it’s just that they’re held to a different standard than most programs, so when they struggle, everyone geeks out and proclaims they’re awful. They do not “suck.” Even after three losses, you can’t argue they aren’t a top 20 or better team in the country, even if they haven’t performed like it. Drew Timme is establishing career highs in almost every category: Averaging 20.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 33 minutes per game- all career highs while shooting only 11 percent from deep on less than one attempt per game, which is whatever, given that small of volume. This is odd though, because at the NBA combine, he looked impressive. He had one game where he was 4-5 from three, and that was from a longer NBA 3-point line. Most expected him to return and expand his game at the college level, but he has not done so yet. Maybe it’s due to the plays they run, or perhaps they believe that because he’s so effective inside, there’s no reason to have him shooting 3s.  I expected him to be more effective from the perimeter, or at least show that he can score and make plays from there, which is almost vital for big men in today’s NBA. That just hasn’t happened, possibly because he needs to be inside the arch, where he is terrific, which will make the Zags great.

Alabama’s lone defeat came at the hands of UConn in 4 overtimes. No shame there though; the Huskies have beaten every team they’ve faced this season and have beat everyone they have played by double digits. Given the nature of college basketball, this should be an exciting, yet unpredictable game. I’m betting for Brandon Miller to have a terrific day and lead the Crimson Tide to a narrow victory. Bama tends to be the hotter team, as they are far higher in the standings, but I would say these two teams are quite closer that the average fan would believe. If you put these teams on a court with no fans or people, I would say Alabama wins 5 or 6 times out of 10, but that is not the case with this game being basically a home game for the Tide. With that being said, role with the Crimson tide to win this game.

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