Saturday, March 20: (15) Iona vs. (2) Alabama
It should be no surprise that the 5th-ranked Alabama team are heavy favorites in this one. Alabama is 18th in average scoring per game (79.6 ppg) and runs a very fast-paced offense. Their defense has also shown signs of improvement this season; especially guarding against the 3-point shot. Alabama is tenth in the nation in this category as their opponents are hitting only 28.8% of 3-point shots. On the offensive side, the Crimson Tide are 2nd in the nation in points scored from 3-pointers at 32 ppg.
Iona gets into the Tournament for the 13th time behind first-year coach Rick Pitino. They have yet to win a game going 0-12 in their previous appearances. The Gaels suffered a six-week layoff mid-season due to COVID concerns but have finished the season strong with six consecutive wins. For Iona to keep this one close, they will have to defend the 3-point shot strongly and have to cut down on turnovers. Iona has averaged 15.6 turnovers per game, and there are only 33 teams that show a worse turnover average than that.