Here’s why Alabama basketball can – and can’t – reach the 2022 Final Four

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama basketball officially knows where it will play in the NCAA Tournament. 

It received a No. 6 seed on Selection Sunday and will travel to San Diego to play an 11 seed. That won't be determined until Rutgers and Notre Dame face each other in a play-in game. 

The Crimson Tide entered the NCAA Tournament with one of the most perplexing resumes in the country considering the up-and-down season that Alabama experienced. 

Alabama's involvement in March Madness could be short-lived. Or, it could last longer than many think. Here's a look at why Alabama could make the first trip to the Final Four in program history or why it won't. 

FIRST ROUND:What to know about Alabama basketball's possible opponent Rutgers in NCAA Tournament 2022

ALABAMA BASKETBALL:Alabama basketball running out of chances after unraveling in SEC Tournament

Why it can reach the Final Four

Alabama has shown it can beat some of the best

The Crimson Tide has beaten some of college basketball's top teams this season. 

This season it defeated two of the four No. 1 seeds in Gonzaga and Baylor. It also defeated 3-seed Tennessee and 4-seed Arkansas as well as 5-seed Houston. 

These impressive wins are what made it clear Alabama was an NCAA Tournament team early in the process. 

"We've proven we can play with and beat pretty much anybody in the country," Nate Oats said Sunday. 

Crimson Tide has the guards to make a tournament run

Good guard play is what fuels any team's tournament run. Alabama has the talent at the position to compete with just about any team. 

Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly, JD Davison and Keon Ellis have the ability to play at a high level. It's just a question of whether or not they can reach that level. 

"We're going to go as our guards go," Oats said. "We've kind of gone that way all year." 

And if the guards play well, shoot efficiently, limit turnovers and hustle on defense, Alabama could go a ways in the NCAA Tournament. 

Why it won't reach the Final Four

Alabama's defense will get in the way

A consistent problem for Alabama basketball in losses has been defensive issues. 

After finishing third in KenPom's defensive efficiency rating in 2020-21, the Crimson Tide sits at No. 94 now. 

Those defensive issues popped up yet again against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament this past Thursday. Alabama grabbed a 15-point lead in the second half, but its defense faltered down the stretch and the 11-seed Commodores upset the 6-seed Crimson Tide. 

"I just think we kind of need a mindset shift in practice, walk-throughs," Quinerly said postgame. "Because we guard (the scout team) for three days, and then the game comes and we don't guard them the way we guarded them in practice and the shoot-arounds. So it just needs to be a mindset shift. But it has to be some type of carryover into the game."

Alabama won't go all that far if it can't clean up its problems on defense in the NCAA Tournament. 

This Crimson Tide team is prime for upsets

Alabama has shown an ability to play to the level of its opponent throughout the season. That's not a good thing in the NCAA Tournament, especially. In fact, it's the epitome of March Madness. 

Alabama seems like a prime candidate to lose to a lower-seeded team considering that's what it has done at times this season. Georgia and Missouri, who both fired their coaches this week, are at the top of the list of teams Alabama lost to but shouldn't have. 

If the Crimson Tide can't find a way to look past seeding and just play hard, Alabama's tournament could be short-lived. 

Prediction for how far Alabama will go

The Crimson Tide will find a way to beat either Rutgers and Notre Dame then play up to the level of Texas Tech and beat the Red Raiders. But if Alabama faces Duke in the Sweet 16, the Blue Devils will likely emerge victorious. 

Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: nkelly@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly.