Alabama Basketball: Tide in ‘Big Dance’ with record number of SEC teams


For the first time since 2012, Alabama basketball has an NCAA Tournament berth. The Tide will open with Virginia Tech on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

The long wait is over for Alabama basketball fans. The Crimson Tide earned an NCAA Tournament bid with stellar wins against stiff competition. It is rare for a 15 loss team to receive an NCAA at-large bid although Vandy did it last season.

Quality wins and overall Strength of Schedule allowed the Tide to survive a regular season-ending streak of five losses. Two SEC Tournament wins restored the Tide’s NCAA status.

The SEC set a record with eight teams going to the Big Dance. The SEC received five bids last season but only three in 2016. The previous record was six teams in the tournament, achieved by the conference nine times and most recently in 2008.

NCAA Selection Committee chair, Bruce Rassmusen said the three biggest factors in evaluating bubble teams was: record away from home; record against other NCAA tourney teams; and strength of schedule. Alabama basketball was 7-10 away from home. The Tide beat seven NCAA Tournament teams for a total of nine wins. The SOS was exceptional, finishing as No. 3 out of 351 teams.

When Davidson upset Rhode Island in the A-10 Tournament final, all the bubble teams were threatened. It turns out Alabama basketball was not a bubble team. Three A-10 teams made the NCAA Tournament field, including Rhode Island who lost to the Tide in December.

Tide plays in the East Regional

The Crimson Tide opens the tournament on Thursday in Pittsburgh against Virginia Tech. The Tide was seeded No. 8 with the Hokies being No. 9. The winner will get the chance to take down the East Region No. 1 seed, Villanova.

Virginia Tech is well coached by Buzz Williams. They finished eighth in the ACC and got bounced by Notre Dame in the second round of the ACC Tournament. The Hokies are on a bit of a slide, having lost three of their last four. The one win in those four games was earned by beating Duke.

Virginia Tech also beat other NCAA Tournament teams North Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina State and Virginia. The Virginia win was in Charlottesville. They lost to Kentucky 93-86 in December. Their record is 21-11 on the season.

The Hokies have an experienced roster. The top six players include four juniors, a senior and a freshman. Only one player in that group is taller than 6-feet-6, 6-feet-10 Kerry Blackshear Jr. The Hokies like to push the offense and have excellent shooters. Alabama will have the advantage of being the stronger defensive team and should dominate on the glass. If the Tide can guard the Hokies outside the arc, it is a winnable game for the Tide.

Next: Post-Combine Mock Draft projects 11 former Tide players to the NFL

Bama Hammer will provide detailed breakdowns of the Virginia Tech matchup in the coming days. There has been no official word but insiders believe Donta Hall will be medically cleared before Thursday.