Alabama Basketball 2014-2015 Non-Conference Previews: Iowa State


The University of Alabama men’s basketball team announced its 2014–2015 non-conference basketball schedule on August 8. Although several headline matchups are carryovers from last year, there were a few unexpected teams added to the lineup.

Alabama basketball limped to a 13–19 (7–11 SEC) record last season and many believe that Alabama’s extremely difficult non-conference schedule was a limiting factor to the team’s success on the court.

With Anthony Grant coaching for his job and one of the best point guards in Alabama history gone to play professionally, this is a pivotal year for the Crimson Tide.

Grant’s first losing season as a head coach wasn’t well-received, to put it lightly, but an easier non-conference schedule and some promising returning talent could allow the Tide to rebound from a horrendous season a year ago.

Alabama finished the 2013–2014 regular season with the seventh toughest schedule in the nation, thanks in part to early season matchups against Duke, UCLA and Wichita State. Although the Tide will see several tough opponents in the early going this year, it should be smoother sailing into conference play in 2014–2015.

Join us as we preview the Crimson Tide’s 2014–2015 non-conference schedule over the next 13 days.

November 24 – vs. Iowa State (Kansas City, Missouri)

Alabama’s first true test of the non-conference season will come against Big 12 power Iowa State (28–8, 11–7 Big 12) in the opening round of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

The Cyclones had a great 2013–2014 campaign, making it to the Sweet 16 before being eliminated to eventual national champion UCONN.

Head coach Fred Hoiberg is considered one of the hottest up-and-coming coaches in college basketball. He has an impressive 90–47 record in four seasons at Iowa State and has reached the NCAA Tournament three years in a row.

Although Iowa State is Hoiberg’s first coaching job ever, he has brought a fun-to-watch, high-intensity that originates from his 10 year NBA career.

The Cyclones lost several key players from their run to the Sweet 16 last year, but return one of the nation’s best forwards in Georges Niang. Niang averaged 16.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season and is expected to contribute even more this year. He is a versatile player that can score from anywhere on the floor.

Many would consider this a tough draw for an opening round game for Alabama, as Iowa State will likely be the tournament favorite, but it will be a very interesting matchup.

Anthony Grant has had some success against high-powered offensive teams during his time at Alabama due in part to the Crimson Tide’s intense focus on defense. Granted, Alabama doesn’t have many big time wins to show for their effort, but this could be the year.

The Crimson Tide is more versatile than ever before and if transfers Ricky Tarrant and Christophe Varidel can contribute immediately, this could be Grant’s deepest team ever.

Expect Alabama to do some creative things on the defensive side of the ball to limit Iowa State’s easy opportunities, especially in transition.

Although this matchup is extremely early in the season, it should provide a benchmark for the Crimson Tide. A win would be great, but even a loss could be eye-opening to a team that will face some struggles before season’s end.

Tomorrow’s game preview: November 24 – vs. Maryland/Arizona State (Kansas City, Missouri)