NCAA Tournament: Virginia Tech vs Alabama Preview and Pick

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Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction

Collin Sexton showed up late to the Big Dance but arrived just in time to help Alabama advance in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

Collin Sexton leads the Crimson Tide, averaging 19 points per game, into the NCAA tournament despite Alabama's struggles down the stretch.

National Basketball Association prospect Collin Sexton, Alabama's freshman point guard, scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half.

Virginia Tech (21-12) shot 68 percent from the field in the first half and led for more than 20 minutes, but hit just two 3-pointers in the second half. That included 10 points from junior center Donta Hall, who returned after missing one game with a concussion, and 9 points from sophomore Dazon Ingram. But getting consistent scoring from anybody but him has been an issue at times this season for the Crimson Tide, so they are going to need someone else to hit some shots if they can beat Virginia Tech. So Villanova has now shot at least 50 percent from the floor in five of its last nine games. Sexton made one of two free throws and then added two more on Alabama's ensuing possession to give the Crimson Tide just enough of a cushion.

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Virginia Tech: The Hokies are on the rise in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but success in March remains elusive. The Tide later ripped off a string of four straight SEC wins and another where they won three of four, before dropping the final five games of the regular season.

As far as match ups go, the 8-9 games are always fun and that is what we have here in the Steel City between Virginia Tech and Alabama.

Alabama point guard Collin Sexton was the focus of conversation, holding a lengthy press conference and finding himself the star of almost every national story. Alabama is giving up 70.0 points per game against the opponents. However, the Crimson Tide have a chance to recover going into this game.

But in the second half, Tech shot 44.8 percent from the field.

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Williams had tinkered with his team's defensive approach after giving up 84 points to Miami in a loss February 3, and it paid off with low-scoring wins over Clemson, Virginia and Duke over the final month of the season. A win in the NCAA Tournament and a potential 1-seed upset would be a good stepping stone.

Coach Buzz Williams is hoping his team got their postseason stinker out of its system at the ACC tournament, when the Hokies led Notre Dame by 21 with just over 15 minutes to play and lost. Sexton was 7 of 14 from the field and 9 of 11 from the free throw line.

Justin Robinson led the Hokies' offense with 19 points, while Justin Bibbs and Nikeil Alexander-Walker both reached double figures scoring 17 points and 15 points, respectively. That allowed Sexton and Alabama to settle themselves. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. made one of two free throws to give Tech a 64-63 lead with 8:07 left.

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Buffalo's Jeremy Harris drives around Arizona's Deandre Ayton during the first half.

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