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Prediction for No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Alabama in Sweet 16 of 2023 NCAA Tournament

Nick Simon takes you through what they think will happen and gives a score prediction for San Diego State-Alabama in the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - South Regional - Practice Day Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament will tip off tonight and the first matchup of the South Region will feature the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide battling the No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs. The game will take place at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY, with the tip set for 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS.

Let’s run through this matchup and see how this will play out.

No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Alabama Prediction

Alabama enters the game as a 7.5-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook with the total installed at 137. The means Vegas is predicting a decent amount of offense in this one with the top-seeded Crimson Tide winning by a comfortable margin.

This will be a battle of two teams trying to dictate terms on defense as both rank in the top five in defensive adjusted efficiency per KenPom. Alabama has been unrelenting on the defensive end and is holding opponents to a nation-low 41% shooting from the field. And what’s scary about this is that the Tide does not really force that many turnovers, meaning that their strength is straight up wearing you down.

San Diego State are also pests on the defensive side of the floor and boast one of the longest average possession lengths in the country. Teams have to work extra hard to find adequate shots against Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Nathan Mensah and company and if they struggle from the floor, they’ll be in a big hole quickly. The problem for them here is that they’ll have to deal with an Alabama team operating one of the fastest offenses in the nation with an NBA-ready player in Brandon Miller that can score at will. SDSU is also allowing opponents to shoot 50% from two, so the Tide could do some damage from both midrange and in the paint.

This feels like a game where Alabama starts fast and quickly establishes a double-digit lead within the first 12 minutes of action. San Diego State may cut it to single-digits at times, but it simply won’t be able to keep pace.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Alabama -7.5
Total: 137
Moneyline: Alabama -340, San Diego State +280

Prediction: Alabama 72, San Diego State 60