Alabama Basketball: A bold prediction for the 2020-21 Crimson Tide season

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Alabama Basketball: At the end of the ’20-21 season, the Crimson Tide will match what it has achieved only six times in its history.

Alabama basketball fans have good reason to believe Nate Oats will deliver a great season for the Crimson Tide. Great as defined by what the Alabama basketball team accomplishes in the NCAA Tournament.

The only thing bold about this prediction is making it before the season begins. No prediction is made about the Crimson Tide regular season or the SEC Tournament that follows. In fact, November, December and even January results may disappoint and make this prediction seem like nonsense.

Alabama basketball fans are advised to be patient during what could well be a rocky ride. But, by late January, barring multiple serious injuries, Nate Oats’ team will have come together. The team’s skills, athleticism and Oats’ system of play will make the Crimson Tide a formidable foe for the then, remainder of the season.

A hint about the Bold Prediction; it is about the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Before going there, a review of Alabama basketball NCAA Tournament history is pertinent.

The NCAA Tournament began in 1939. The NIT, which began in 1938, was the most prestigious of the two tournaments until the 1950s. The original NCAA Tournament field was eight teams. It was expanded to 16 teams in 1951 and to 32 teams in 1975. The 64-team format was first used in 1985. Since then play-in and what are now called first-round games were added in 2001 and 2011, enlarging the field to 68 teams.

The first Crimson Tide NCAA Tournament appearance was in 1975 and ended in an opening-round loss to Arizona State, 97-94. The next year the Crimson Tide opened with an easy win over North Carolina, followed by a second-game loss to Indiana. The Tide came close to taking down the eventual National Champion Hoosiers, who finished the season undefeated.

The Crimson Tide did not return to the NCAA Tournament until the1982 season, losing its second game to North Carolina and Michael Jordan.

Over the next 13 seasons, the Crimson Tide failed to reach the NCAA Tournament only twice. In five of those tournament trips, the Crimson Tide won a pair of games. Three times the Tide lost in the opening round. One was an ugly loss; to Lamar in 1983 by a score of 73-50. The other two were close losses to Illinois State in 1984, by a score of 49-48 and South Alabama in 1989, 86-84.

Over the last 24 NCAA Tournaments, the Crimson Tide has made the field just seven times. The highlight season was 2004 when Mark Gottfried led the Tide to the Elite Eight. In the 12 most recent NCAA Tournaments the Crimson Tide has made the field just twice.

A program that was a respected tournament team in the 1980s to the mid-1990s, has fizzled. The only run of success since then was the 2002-2006 seasons when the Tide won five NCAA Tournament games.

For Alabama basketball fans of the last few seasons or the last 45 seasons, the post-season hopes every season is a good enough SEC Tournament run to ensure an NCAA Tournament berth. Dreams of a Final Four season can be fancied. What many of us most want is for the Crimson Tide to make the Tournament every year and play like it deserves to be there. At least two NCAA Tournament wins should be the threshold of success.

In 24 NCAA Tournament appearances, Alabama basketball has won two or more (three just once) NCAA Tournament games only six times.

The bold prediction is in Nate Oats’ first NCCA Tournament as the Crimson Tide head coach, the 2020-21 team will get two NCAA wins. After that, Alabama basketball fans can start seriously aiming at a Final Four. Not bold enough? If the Crimson Tide pulls it off, it will match the total NCAA wins since the 2004 season.

For more NCAA Tournament history, click here. A great resource on Alabama Basketball history is available here.

Next. Joe Lunardi has the Tide in the next 'Big Dance'. dark

The Crimson Tide opens the season with a game against Jacksonville State on Nov. 25. Next will be the Maui Classic beginning on Nov. 30 with Tide taking on Stanford.