College Basketball Game of the Week: No. 8 Alabama vs. No. 1 Houston
for themselves on the basketball court in recent years.
Alabama has made three of the last four NCAA Tournaments and before 2018 it had been six years before they made an appearance. Houston has made all four of the last NCAA tournaments, making it to the second weekend in the last three and the Final Four in 2021.
The two teams will seek a big statement win when they face off Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Fertitta Center.
Both these teams have won their games in opposite ways coming into their matchup. Houston is the best defense in the nation scoring wise, while Alabama has the eighteenth best scoring offense.
Houston has a very athletic squad that can stick on ball handlers and off-ball players to force bad shots. But the Crimson Tide will be the best offense the Cougars have faced by far.
Alabama is led by freshman forward Brandon Miller who is averaging 19.1 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. Miller is most lethal from 3-point range where he is shooting 46.6%.
But when he isn’t hitting his threes, Miller can go cold very quickly. In Alabama’s loss to UConn, he went 2-for-9 on two-pointers.
If Houston can close out on Miller quickly and prevent him from shooting threes, he can end up having a poor shooting night and take Alabama out of the game.
But junior guard Mark Sears has put up 19 and 24 points in Alabama’s last two games and may be able to carry the load if Miller can’t.
Where the Crimson Tide excel is on the glass, as they lead the nation in rebounds per game.
Houston is led by an amazing backcourt in senior guard Marcus Sasser and junior guard Jamal Shead.
Sasser serves as the team’s go-to scoring option scoring 16.9 points per game while Shead serves as the facilitator dishing out 6.2 assists per game. Both also contribute significantly to the Cougars’ strong defense with 1.8 and 2.4 steals per game, respectively.
The Cougars are going to have to keep the ball in these two players' hands as much as possible because their forwards are at a height disadvantage compared to Alabama’s.
Houston’s weak schedule so far has allowed Sasser and Shead to have weak games and other players to step up in their place. But your best players must come through in the biggest games, and Alabama will be the best team that Houston has played thus far.
Houston is a heavy favorite going into this game and with good reason. The Cougars have blown out a lot of teams so far this season and have proven they can pull through in close games. But Alabama has quality wins early and its size can keep the Tide in the game, if not give them a chance to win.
Jayson O’Connell is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.