Alabama basketball vs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in March Madness: Scouting report, prediction

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama basketball is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, and with that comes a matchup with a No. 16 seed.

The opponent is Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (24-10), a team that is making its third appearance in March Madness.

The Islanders are fresh off their first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament after beating Southeast Missouri 75-71 on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, in a First Four game.

After that warmup, the Islanders get to face the top-seeded team in the entire field of 68. Alabama (29-5) will face the Islanders on Thursday (1:45 p.m., CBS) at Legacy Arena in Birmingham.

Here's a look at the Islanders and how they stack up with the Crimson Tide.

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Terrion Murdix dealing with injury

There's never a good time for an injury, but Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is without one its best players at the most important time.

Terrion Murdix, a 6-foot-1 guard who averages 13.4 points per game, was wearing crutches with a brace on his left knee Tuesday. Murdix, the Southland Conference's defensive player of the year, sustained the injury during the conference tournament.

The Islanders still have their top two scorers, though. Trevian Tennyson leads the team with 15.6 points per game. Isaac Mushila is second with 14.4 points per game.

Meanwhile, Jalen Jackson led the Islanders with 22 points against Southeast Missouri.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi a threat from free-throw line

Alabama needs to make sure it doesn't give the Islanders extra trips to the foul line. That's the one thing that could serve as an equalizer and make this game more interesting than it should be.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is No. 2 in the country in free-throw percentage, per KenPom. Behind that, 3-point shooting percentage is ranked 52nd while 2-point shooting percentage is 243rd.

Alabama has significant height advantage

The Crimson Tide is usually longer than most teams it faces considering the height of players such as Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney, Nick Pringle and Brando Miller, all of whom are 6-9 or taller.

But Alabama especially has a height advantage over the Islanders. The average height of the Crimson Tide's first-round opponent is 75 inches. The average national height is 77.1 inches. Alabama players are on average 78.1 inches. That's a three-inch height differential.

The Crimson Tide will look to use that to its advantage.

How Texas A&M-Corpus Christi stacks up with Alabama in scoring, defense and tempo

KenPom tracks adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, which are points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi doesn't have an elite offense or defense.

Alabama will also look to play somewhat faster than the Islanders, who still play relatively fast. KenPom measures the adjusted tempo statistic based on the number of possessions per 40 minutes.

Adjusted offensive efficiency:

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: 107.1 (142nd nationally)

Alabama: 116.2 (19th)

Adjusted defensive efficiency:

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: 107.4 (224th nationally)

Alabama: 88.6 (3rd)


Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: 69.2 (85th nationally)

Alabama: 72.7 (4th)

Score prediction

Alabama 89, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 62: Without the Islanders' best defensive player, the Alabama offense should have a great day. The Crimson Tide defense seldom gives up 70 points to SEC teams, so it's not going to let Texas A&M-Corpus Christi get there.