UNC Basketball set for Sweet 16 clash with the Alabama Crimson Tide

Hubert Davis and the UNC basketball program have been invited to the Los Angeles tournament, as they now meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sweet 16.

Wagner v North Carolina
Wagner v North Carolina / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

We're officially down to 16 teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, as the UNC basketball program looks to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight on Thursday night.

Thursday, March 28, 2024. . 9:39 PM EST. 441. 23-11. 523. CBS. UNC Bama. 29-7

As Hubert Davis loves to say, the Tar Heels got invited to the Los Angeles Tournament, as they'll square off against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday night.

This will be another tough task for the Tar Heels, the No. 1 seed in the West Region, as they'll compete against a team that, like them, likes to push the pace.

Alabama has been a strong offensive team, averaging over 90 points per game. However, in the same token, the Crimson Tide have struggled defensively, as opponents have scored on average just under 80 points per contest.

To put it into context: Alabama needed to score 100 points to knock off No. 13-seeded Charleston in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

How will the Tar Heels fare against the Crimson Tide on Thursday night as both programs hope to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight on Saturday night?

How Did They Get Here?

North Carolina
Round 1: Defeated No. 16-seeded Wagner 90-62
Round 2: Defeated No. 9-seeded Michigan State 85-69

Round 1: Defeated No. 13-seeded Charleston 109-96
Round 2: Defeated No. 12-seeded Grand Canyon 72-61

Keys to Victory for North Carolina

There are going to be two keys to victory for the UNC basketball program in this one:

Defense is the key: North Carolina has been one of the best defensive teams in the country, and will need to put up the same type of effort against a high-powered Alabama offense. The Crimson Tide aren't afraid to go deep into their bench, so it will be critical for the Tar Heels to continue getting strong production from the likes of Seth Trimble, Jae'Lyn Withers and Jalen Washington.

Additionally, North Carolina HAS to continue driving to the basket, especially utilizing Armando Bacot in the post.

As Nate Oats said, Alabama won't be intimidated by Bacot, but his presence and ability could really help open the floor up for the Tar Heels. We saw Grand Canyon settle for 20 three-point attempts in the Round of 32 against Alabama, as only two of those attempts went in the net.

North Carolina is lethal when they drive, especially with their guards. Keep driving until it creates open looks from the outside.

Something to Watch For

After suffering what appeared to be a head injury against Grand Canyon, Nate Oats, in his postgame news conference, stated that Latrell Wrightsell would be good to go for Thursday night's matchup.

Well, that might not be the case.

Oats said on Wednesday that Wrightsell is being re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis, as they are unsure of his status for the Crimson Tide's meeting with the Tar Heels.

Why is this important? Well, Wrightsell is a lethal shooter, as he's knocked down a staggering 44.3% of his three-point attempts this season.

Wrightsell's absence would be a big one for Alabama, as one of their biggest floor spacers would be missing. His status leading up to this Sweet 16 battle will definitely be a storyline to follow.

Projected Starters

No. 2 Elliot Cadeau (Fr. 6-1, 180) 7.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.1 apg
No. 3 Cormac Ryan (Sr. 6-5, 195) 10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
No. 4 R.J. Davis (Sr. 6-0, 180) 21.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Gr. 6-11, 240) 14.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 apg
No. 55 Harrison Ingram (Jr. 6-7, 235) 12.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.2 apg