Ranking the top 10 games on Alabama’s 2022 men’s basketball schedule

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

Another year, another daunting slate.  

Last season, the Crimson Tide fell short of their lofty preseason expectations after a 19-14 (9-9 SEC) performance that saw Nate Oats’ third year squad lose the final four games of the season — including a first-round exit in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.  

Now, as a new season inches closer, Alabama once again looks like a team primed to make a deep run in March — on paper, at least.  

However, before the Crimson Tide can prove it or lose it on the court, they must survive a grueling regular season.  

Here are the top ten most exciting matchups featured on Alabama’s 2022-23 schedule, featuring commentary from writers at The Crimson White’s sports desk.  

1. Alabama vs. Gonzaga (Dec. 17)

Last season, the Crimson Tide rolled into Seattle and upset the No. 3 ranked Bulldogs 91-82 behind an explosive 28-point effort from now-departed guard Jaden Shackelford. A year later, Alabama’s matchup couldn’t be any more different — this time with Gonzaga traveling to Birmingham. National title favorites once more, the Bulldogs look to enact revenge in a battle of revamped rosters.  

 “Charles Bediako could be the key for the Tide in this one. In their prior matchup, Chet Holmgren was his primary defender. With him gone, the Zags will likely be forced to turn away from their projected small-ball lineup and towards LSU transfer Efton Reid at center to prevent a mismatch.” — Nicholas Pursley, Contributing Writer 

2. Alabama at Houston (Dec. 10)

Say what you want about Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson, but it’s no question that his Cougars have become one of the more dominant teams in college basketball.  

Houston returns electrifying guard Marcus Sasser, who averaged 17.7 points per game over his first twelve games last season before being sidelined for the remainder of the year with a left foot injury, along with backcourt dynamos Tramon Mark and Jamal Shead. While losing key pieces in Kyler Edwards, Fabian White Jr. and Josh Carlton, the Cougars add five-star McDonald’s All-American forward Jarace Walker. Just like the Bulldogs, Houston is seeking revenge, as the Crimson Tide defeated the Cougars 83-82 last season in Tuscaloosa. Perhaps there will be a postgame handshake this time around? 

“This game is going to tell us a lot about Alabama. Both teams will have this game on their radar far in advance, and the Crimson Tide will be coming off a huge test against Gonzaga. Like last season, it is expected that early December will be a defining run for the team … The Alabama faithful will be able to tell a lot about the group from how this game plays out, win or lose.” — Will Miller, Staff Reporter 

3. Alabama vs. Auburn (Mar. 1)

Ah, the Iron Bowl of basketball. Auburn returns their starting backcourt in Wendell Green Jr. and K.D. Johnson, but lose 2021-22 Naismith Trophy defensive player of the year Walker Kessler and lottery pick Jabari Smith Jr. Coming off their second SEC title in five years, dynamic Morehead State University transfer and forward Johni Broome and the Tigers will have their hands full in Coleman Coliseum. 

“After being swept by Bruce Pearl’s squad during regular season play last season, the Crimson Tide aim to take back their home court and avenge last year’s 81-77 loss to the Tigers in Tuscaloosa. With Alabama’s youthful roster featuring potential stars such as Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley, along with an experienced veteran core, the Crimson Tide [has] high hopes against the Tigers.” — Dean Harrell, Contributing Writer 

4. Alabama vs. Kentucky (Jan. 7)

After a disgusting 66-55 loss to the Wildcats last season in Tuscaloosa, Alabama looks to bounce back with a victory over preseason SEC title favorite Kentucky.  

Joining returning stars Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler are top-15 recruits Chris Livingston and Cason Wallace in Lexington. Add in Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves (20.1 PPG), and the Wildcats have the talent and depth to play with anyone in the country. 

5. Alabama vs. Michigan State (Nov. 24)

In February, it was announced that the Crimson Tide would participate in Nike’s 2022 Phil Knight Invitational. Now, Oats and company will begin the tournament by facing Michigan State on Nov. 24.  

It’ll be master versus student, as Oats and Spartans head coach Tom Izzo share a connected past. Led by junior guard A.J. Hoggard and senior forward Joey Hauser, the Spartans return an experienced roster chock-full of length. Can the Crimson Tide’s frontcourt withstand a physical Michigan State team?  

6. Alabama at Tennessee (Feb. 15)

In March, the Volunteers won their first SEC tournament title in 43 years. While Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes can’t completely fill the void left by stars Kennedy Chandler and John Fulkerson, the Volunteers return Josiah-Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi and breakout candidate Zakai Zeigler. If five-star signee Julian Phillips can deliver for Tennessee, the Crimson Tide’s trip to Knoxville could be monumental.  

“It’s been a fierce contest the last few times these teams have met. Expect no less this year when they clash in Knoxville. The potential matchup between 5-star recruits Julian Philips and Brandon Miller could be must-see TV.” — Orry Cantrell, Contributing Writer 

7. Alabama vs. Oregon/UConn (Nov. 25)

Dependent on the Crimson Tide’s result vs. Michigan State, Alabama will be tasked with facing the winner, or loser, of Oregon versus Connecticut as part of the Phil Knight Invitational.  

The Huskies, led by head coach Dan Hurley, bolstered a 23-10 (13-6) record last season before an early Round-of-64 exit in the 2022 NCAA tournament. The Ducks, led by head coach Dana Altman, merely flopped in the NIT’s second round after a disappointing 20-15 (11-9) season. Regardless of opponent, the Crimson Tide could be staring at a quadrant-one win opportunity.  

8. Alabama at Oklahoma (Jan. 28)

Two seasons ago, No. 24 Oklahoma toppled No. 9 Alabama 66-61 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Now, the Crimson Tide will try to exercise its demons and blow by a steady Sooners team that loves to control the pace of play. Can a frenetic Alabama offense speed Porter Moser’s squad up in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge?

9. Alabama at Auburn (Feb. 11)

It’s no surprise to find the Tigers on this list twice, as Auburn once again seems destined for a top-five finish in the SEC. After a 100-81 drubbing on the plains last season, the Crimson Tide will look to make Neville Arena a little bit quieter come February.  

10. Alabama vs. Memphis (Dec. 13)

Penny Hardaway. Nate Oats. When two of the biggest personalities in college basketball clash, entertainment value tends to climb.  

Last season, Alabama fell to the Tigers 92-78 on the road. Now back at home, the Crimson Tide will attempt to outlast a new-look Memphis team tasked with replacing key cogs in Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. 

Expect Memphis to run a fast tempo, they led the AAC in scoring in 2021 (75.2 PPG). The Tigers also shot well last year, hitting 46.9% of shots, good for first in the AAC. Memphis will look to score early and quiet the Crimson Chaos in what should be a fast paced, high scoring affair in Tuscaloosa.” — Nick Robbins, Contributing Writer

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]