Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide may find difficulty reaching NCAA tournament


In the midst of the recent suspensions in the men’s basketball program, fans have had varied reactions. Some have applauded head coach Anthony Grant for running a tight ship and some have taken their NCAA tournament bid hopes and cast them away.

If you did both, join the club.

There is no doubt Grant did the best thing for the program in this situation. If he allowed the players to run the show in his program, the losses would come by the truckload, and that never bodes well for job security.

As for an NCAA tournament bid this season, I won’t tell you to throw out your optimism. Optimism fills Coleman Coliseum on a nightly basis, and no one wants to see empty seats when the team is one improbable win streak away from contending.

But, let’s take a look at the upcoming schedule. Florida is far-and-away one of the best teams in a top-heavy Southeastern Conference, and Alabama has to face them without its most consistent post scorer and its most consistent three-point shooter.

The return of Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele is big, no doubt about it. Anything is possible in college basketball, but the Gators will probably be the favorites – and that’s accounting for another Jeremy Lin-like outburst from Rodney Cooper.

It doesn’t get easier, either. Alabama will play host to Tennessee on Saturday. You know, Tennessee, the team that completed a season sweep of the Gators on the road just three days ago?

That leaves Alabama with four games to go. The first of the final four is on the road against Arkansas, which just so happens to be the location of one of Alabama’s four conference losses last season.

Then comes a two-game home stand against Mississippi State and Auburn. The Jan. 14 loss to the Bulldogs sent Alabama on a four-game tailspin, and all bets are off for the meeting in Tuscaloosa on Feb. 25.

As for Auburn, well, when it comes to basketball season, it’s not so great to be an Auburn Tiger.

The finale will come against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., against a Rebel team that forced the Crimson Tide to double overtime in Coleman. They say home court advantage is worth three points, and three points obviously would have won the earlier matchup in regulation.

Long story short, Alabama has six games left, starting with tonight’s matchup against Florida. I expect Alabama to go 4-2 in this stretch, with a 5-1 or 3-3 performance not out of the question.

A 4-2 performance would put the Tide at a 9-7 record in conference play. 9-7 SEC teams don’t have a great track record when it comes to NCAA tournament bids, even with a nonconference resume as solid as the Tide’s. I won’t rule out a tournament bid just yet, seeing as both Andy Katz of ESPN and Jerry Palm of CBS have Alabama seeded somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to 10. But, I just don’t see it.

I’ll end my negativity parade with a positive: Grant did buy himself one more year here at the Capstone, whether Alabama makes it to the NCAA tournament or not. The Alabama faithful have a lot of respect and a little more patience for a man with power and a strong backbone (who is this Saban guy I keep hearing about?).

That being said, next year is the year. All of the talent Grant brought into the program in the class of 2011 will have an entire season of collegiate basketball under their belts, so inexperience will no longer be the reason.

Dare I say, it’s big dance or bust next season.

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