Better NCAA Tournament matchup for Alabama basketball: Rutgers or Notre Dame? Nate Oats weighs in

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats has been in this situation before. 

On Selection Sunday, the Crimson Tide was among the few teams that knew its seed, knew where it would play but didn't know who it would face. 

Alabama, a No. 6 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, will match up with the winner of Tuesday's 11-seed play-in game between Notre Dame and Rutgers. The winner will face the Crimson Tide in San Diego on Friday. 

Oats had to play the waiting game in his final season at Buffalo, too. His team was a 6-seed that year and faced 11-seed Arizona State in the first round after the Sun Devils defeated St. John's in a play-in game. 

"It makes it a little harder for your prep because you’re not just prepping for one team," Oats said. 

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Alabama will be diving into film of Rutgers and Notre Dame. Oats said he has seen both teams on television, but now the studying will be much more in-depth. 

Oats, however, knew enough after the selection show Sunday to know there's a clear difference in style. 

"Notre Dame obviously plays a little more open, takes a lot of threes, a little more offensive-minded," Oats said. "Rutgers is a lot more defensive-minded. Tough. Hard-nosed. They’re going to make it difficult to score on." 

Alabama has one of the best offenses in the country in KenPom's offensive efficiency rating, ranked No. 14. Its defense, however, is ranked No. 94. 

By comparison, Rutgers is No. 107 in offensive efficiency and No. 43 in defense. Notre Dame is No. 29 in offensive efficiency and No. 84 in defense. 

Alabama should be able to score more points against the Fighting Irish but could also give up more. 

Oats also pointed out the big wins each program has had this season. 

Rutgers had a four-game winning streak against ranked teams - Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois. All held spots in the top 15 of the AP Poll and Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll, powered by USA TODAY Sports. 

Notre Dame managed to do something Alabama didn't this season: Beat Kentucky. 

The Fighting Irish won a matchup against the Wildcats 66-62 on Dec. 11. 

"Both of these teams are more than capable of beating good teams," Oats said. 

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