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Final Four: Does Alabama stand a chance against UConn?

As Saturday night and Alabama’s first-ever Final Four game inches closer, the shock and amazement of just making it to Phoenix has begun to wear off — for now — and focus shifts to whether or not the Tide actually has a chance to advance to Monday’s national championship game.

There’s no denying it. Connecticut is an absolute juggernaut. The defending national champion Huskies have torn through everyone in their path en route to their second-straight Final Four, beating opponents by an average of over 27 points in their tournament games.

They have a 35-3 record on the season.

As of Friday, UConn is favored by 11.5 points over the Tide, good for the fourth largest point spread in Final Four history.

They boast the No. 1 adjusted offense in the nation per KenPom and they are just as impressive on the defensive end with the No. 4 adjusted defense. The Huskies seem to play defense like their life depends on it and have simply squeezed the sentience out of teams during this run.

They have a 7-foot-2 goliath in Donovan Clingan who is not just going to be a nightmare to guard, but will protect the rim with unwavering determination and cause teams to have to take non-quality shots because they can’t get past him.

In perhaps the biggest display of its dominance, Illinois was playing the Huskies tough in the Elite Eight matchup during the first half, but from the end of the first half through the first part of the second half, Connecticut went on an absolutely absurd and unheard of 30-0 run to turn the game into a blowout.

Given all of this, how can anyone think that Alabama has even a puncher’s chance against UConn?

Start with UConn’s last loss all the way back on February 20 at Creighton where in an extreme outlier, the Huskies lost by 19 points.

RELATED: Yellowhammer Sports Podcast: Bama’s Run to Phoenix, Final Four Preview

The Bluejays were able to defend like maniacs and hold UConn under 70 points, but the big kicker (and what Alabama should be looking at) is what Creighton did from the three-point line.

They shot 50 percent from deep, going 14 of 28 and slashing Connecticut’s suffocating defense with elite three-point shooting.

In that matchup, UConn also shot just 3 of 16 (18.8 percent) from deep, something the Tide almost has to rely on should it have any chance.

UConn is not an elite three-point shooting team by any means. The problem is that they are a level above elite in just about every other category on the court.

However, if Alabama can get up between 35 and 40 three-point attempts and hit at a rate that is at least close to 50 percent, the Tide at the very least will stay in the game for much of the night and avoid getting its doors blown off by the machine that is UConn.

Which is more than most can say.

But to be able to win, you have to at least hang around long enough to throw a knockout punch. If want want to slay the beast, the Tide’s knockout punch must come from the three-point line.

Michael Brauner is a Senior Sports Analyst and Contributing Writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @MBraunerWNSP

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