Alabama basketball vs. Notre Dame in NCAA Tournament 2022: Score prediction, scouting report

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama basketball had to wait longer than most to learn who it would play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Crimson Tide has its answer. 

After two overtimes, Notre Dame outlasted Rutgers 89-87 on Wednesday night to earn a trip to San Diego to face Alabama (19-14). The two teams will face each other Friday (3:15 p.m. CT, TNT) at Viejas Arena. 

No. 6 seed Alabama will enter the game having the advantage of rest, but it hasn't been able to focus on preparing solely for one opponent until the result of the play-in game between Rutgers and 11-seed Notre Dame (23-10) went final. 

Here's a look at the Fighting Irish and a prediction. 

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Notre Dame's season

The Fighting Irish ranks No. 52 on KenPom and No. 53 in NET Rankings. 

Notre Dame has a 4-9 record in the first two quadrants, compared to Alabama's 13-11 record. 

The Fighting Irish has won seven of its past 10 games. Its most impressive win this year came earlier in the season, though. Notre Dame defeated Kentucky 66-62 on Dec. 11 in a home game. 

The Fighting Irish also lost to Texas A&M and beat Miami. The same result occurred for Alabama against both opponents. 

Numbers to know

The Crimson Tide is going to have to find a way to limit its turnovers because its opponent won't likely have many. 

Notre Dame does well at taking care of the ball. The Fighting Irish ranked 32nd in fewest turnovers with 331 heading into the NCAA Tournament. Alabama is one of the worst with 466 (ranked No. 320). 

So, Notre Dame's assist-to-turnover ratio is also strong. At 1.37, it ranks No. 28. 

Alabama will also want to avoid a free-throw battle late. Notre Dame is No. 39 with a 75.83% free-throw percentage. 

Overall, the Fighting Irish's offense is stronger than its defense. Notre Dame's offensive efficiency rating sits at No. 30 while its defense is No. 83, per KenPom. 

This could be a high-scoring game considering Alabama is No. 15 in offensive efficiency but No. 95 defensively. 

How Notre Dame performed in play-in game

Paul Atkinson Jr. grabbed the offensive rebound and a spot in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the same time. 

With the board in the final seconds, he was able to set up his layup and give Notre Dame a two-point lead with two seconds left in double overtime. The Scarlet Knights couldn't get a shot off. 

It looked as if the game was headed to a third overtime. Each team found a way to answer each other down the stretch, ranging from knocking down free throws to banking 3-pointers. 

Despite Atkinson's clutch rebound, it was actually Rutgers who dominated on the glass. The Scarlet Knights outrebounded Notre Dame 44-22. 

But the Fighting Irish only turned the ball over five times. Rutgers had 13. 

Atkinson led all scorers with 26 points to go with six rebounds and two blocks. Nate Laszewski came off the bench for Notre Dame and added 18 points with six rebounds. 

Score prediction

Alabama 82, Notre Dame 78: This game won't lack for scoring. Alabama's back court performs well and wins the shootout. 

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