Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
It’s funny how a season always comes down to one game.
It doesn’t matter at what sport it is. It doesn’t matter at what level it’s being played. Whether it is football, baseball, or basketball, there is always a defining moment in a season. There is always one game that decides the fate of a season. The Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team has had plenty of moments to define them this season, and outside of defensive excellence, most of those moments could be categorized as mediocre. Fortunately for the boys in crimson, their season is still waiting to be determined. Their destiny is still in their hands. Their season will be defined today.
After an impressive 58-48 win over the Tennessee Volunteers yesterday in the SEC quarterfinals in Nashville, Alabama has moved in position to play the #13 Florida Gators, which is important on several levels. Not only does it give the Tide a chance to get one step closer to an SEC Tournament Championship, but they also have a chance to punch their ticket to the big dance. With a win today over Florida, Alabama will, in all likelihood, reposition themselves into the “Last Four In” grouping from the “First Four Out”, according to bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
This has certainly been a season of “what if’s” for the Tide. What if Alabama had taken care of business against clearly inferior opponents like Mercer, Tulane, and Auburn? What if they had eked by #17 Cincinnati? What if the officiating was a bit better in the Tide’s meeting with the Vols in Knoxville? What if they hang on to a ten-point lead versus LSU in Baton Rouge with 2:34 left in the game? What if Andrew Steele hadn’t gotten injured again? This Alabama team is a few lousy efforts and a couple lucky breaks from being a seven or eight loss team that isn’t worried about being on the bubble.
The Tide has a chance today to wipe the slate clean of previous frustrations and lackluster efforts and define their season going forward. They face the best team in the conference in Florida, and their entire season hangs in the balance. In their previous meeting in Gainesville, ‘Bama hung tough in a difficult environment, but a 19-2 run by the Gators to end the game sealed the Tide’s fate. If Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide are able to keep this game close, and finish it out the way they did against the Vols yesterday afternoon, they will be headed to the SEC Championship Game, and most likely the NCAA Tournament.
I love games like this. I love when a team has a chance to lay all their chips on the table and find out what they are made of. It will take a hungry and focused bunch to move past the talented Florida Gators. There is a saying that sports doesn’t build character, it reveals it. This team still has a chance to blaze its own path and write its own destiny. Today, the true character of the Alabama basketball team will be revealed, for better or worse. Today, their season will be defined.
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