Friday, February 23, 2024

Behind Enemy Lines: Iron Bowl of Basketball part two preview with Roll Tide Wire’s Stacey Blackwood

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The second edition of the Iron Bowl of Basketball is set to tip off on Wednesday at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.

Auburn was in control for most of the first game as they led for 24:56 of game time before Alabama pulled away late to earn the 77-69 win on Feb. 11 at Neville Arena. Wendell Green Jr. led Auburn in scoring with 24 points.

Now, three weeks have passed and both teams’ futures seem to be set, but an upset could shake things up a bit.

The Crimson Tide now ranks No. 2 in the country and is projected to be the top overall seed according to the latest bracketology update from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. As for Auburn, they are in the “last four byes” category along with Nevada, as well as teams that have given Auburn a loss, West Virginia and Memphis.

Auburn needs a win in order to solidify their place in the tournament, and an upset win in Tuscaloosa would boost their resume. Can they get it done? We reached out to our friends at Roll Tide Wire to provide a more in-depth analysis.

What has Alabama struggled with the most recently? What advantage does the Crimson Tide have over Auburn? Stacey Blackwood of Roll Tide Wire provides those answers and more in the latest edition of Behind Enemy Lines.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama got the best of Auburn in an endurance test on Feb. 11. Alabama has played a few close games since then. What factor seems to give Alabama an edge in close games?

This just seems like a very mentally tough team that Nate Oats has. It also helps when you have veterans like JQ, Noah Gurley, and Nimari Burnett coming off of the bench. So I would say toughness and depth. 

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

As the season draws close to an end, the Crimson Tide’s final two games are against their archrivals and a consistent Texas A&M team. What does Alabama need to do in order to close the season strong and earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament?

Taking care of the basketball is of the highest importance. When Alabama doesn’t turn it over, they are nearly unbeatable. 

The Knoxville News-Sentinel

On the other end, if Alabama were to have a tough week and lose one, or both, of this week’s games, what is the worst-case scenario in your mind as far as NCAA Tournament seeding goes?

I would think a No. 2 seed is about as bad of a seeding they would fall to if they do not finish the season strong. 

The Tuscaloosa News

Auburn has had trouble rebounding over the last two games. How accurately has Alabama shot over the last week’s close games?

It has been a tough couple of games for Alabama shooting the ball, especially from three. Alabama is just 10 of the last 49 from behind the arc over the last two games. 

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

What needs to go right for Alabama on Wednesday for them to get the win?

I believe they need to come out hot shooting the ball. Auburn is almost in desperation mode when it comes to the NCAA tournament so you know they will do their best to upset the Tide. To me, this game is all about Alabama setting the tone early. 

Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser

What is your final score prediction?

I think it is obvious who the better team is, but in this matchup, that doesn’t really mean much. As I mentioned, Auburn really needs a signature win, and boy would this be one for them. In the end, I believe Alabama is just too much for the Tigers. Tide wins 82-69. 

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