Alabama men’s basketball ranked No. 14 in Preseason AP Poll

Blake Byler, Contributing Writer

The Alabama men’s basketball team was slated at No. 14 in the Preseason AP Poll.

This is the first time in head coach Nate Oats’ three-year tenure that the Crimson Tide has received a preseason AP ranking. This is also the first preseason AP ranking for Alabama since the 2011-12 season, when the Crimson Tide was ranked No. 19.

Alabama is the second-highest ranked SEC team, behind Kentucky at No. 10. Alabama is ahead of Arkansas at No. 16, Tennessee at No. 18 and Auburn at No. 22. LSU and Mississippi State also received votes.

Of the SEC teams ranked and receiving votes, Alabama has matchups with Arkansas and Tennessee on the schedule, as well as home-and-home series with Kentucky, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State

Alabama will travel to Seattle, Washington, to take on No. 1 Gonzaga in the Battle for Seattle on Dec. 4.

In back-to-back games on Dec. 11 and 14 Alabama will face No. 15 Houston at home and will travel to No. 12 Memphis. The Crimson Tide will host No. 8 Baylor on Jan. 29 as part of the annual SEC Big 12 Challenge.

Alabama may also face No. 3 Kansas in the championship round of the ESPN Events Invitational if both teams win their first two games of the tournament.

Colorado State, who received votes, will also play Alabama in Birmingham on Dec. 21 in the CM Newton Classic.

Oats said this challenging nonconference schedule might be too much, but there’s a reason why he gave his third team a gauntlet before conference play starts.

“I would rather get exposed in the nonconference. Figure out what we’ve got to fix,” Oats said. “It’s better to get the wake-up call in non-conference than it is in SEC play.”

This philosophy will be put to the test soon with basketball season approaching. Alabama opens its season on Nov. 9 against Louisiana Tech.