They Both Start with "A"
Obvious, but true: Alaska and Alabama launch their monikers with the same vowel. OK, we admit this seems like a gimmee, but there's more to it. Both states not only have matching vowels, they also get their names from the native people who initially inhabited their spaces.
It was the Aleut who named Alaska, using their word to describe an object against which the sea breaks. Although the Aleut name for Alaska referred to the relationship between the Alaskan peninsula and surrounding ocean, it's been loosely translated as "big land" -- which seems to make perfect sense for a state that's 500 times larger than Rhode Island. Likewise, Alabama was named for the Native American tribe that in pre-Starbucks days largely inhabited the central part of the state.