Alabama Basketball: Crimson Tide and SEC NCAA Round 1 update

Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News
Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News /

Birmingham was kind to Alabama Basketball on Thursday, with a big Crimson Tide crowd and an outmatched opponent. The Alabama Crimson Tide earned the location, the crowd, and the foe, based on Alabama’s winning-est season ever and an NCAA Tournament overall No. 1 seed.

Even if Nate Oats was not completely satisfied with the Tide’s defensive play on Thursday, Alabama played like a 1-seed nonetheless. When the brackets were released on Selection Sunday, some pundits stated the Tide’s path to a Final Four was the easiest of the four, 1-seeds. If that is true, that path got easier on Thursday.

The South Region’s 13-seed, Furman knocked off 4-seed Virginia. It was not the shocking outcome it might seem. The Cavaliers have not won an NCAA Tournament game since winning six of them, en route to the 2019 National Championship.

The far bigger upset on Thursday was also in the South Region, with 15-seed Princeton beating 2-seed Arizona, 59-55. The Arizona Wildcats were believed, by some open-minded pundits and all Bama-haters, to be the team that would knock out the Crimson Tide in the Elite Eight.

Alabama Basketball and South Region Challengers

The Crimson Tide has no cakewalk to a Final Four berth. On Saturday, Alabama should beat Maryland because the Crimson Tide is the better team. But better teams do not always win. If Nate Oats is correct, without a better defensive performance by the Crimson Tide, the Terrapins will win.

Assuming the chalk holds for the Tide, the Sweet Sixteen opponent will probably be, 5-seed San Diego State. The Aztecs might be the most veteran team in the Big Dance. They play defense about as well as any championship contender.

Outlast the Aztecs and Alabama Basketball will most probably get the winner of a Round 2 game between 6-seed Creighton and 3-seed Baylor. In terms of offensive efficiency, Baylor rates a good bit higher than Alabama, according to Ken Pomeroy.

As long as Brandon Miller’s injury is as minor as has been reported, the Crimson Tide will be favored against any remaining South Region team. But the margins will be single digits.

Other SEC Teams in the Big Dance

Six SEC teams competed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The record for the conference was unimpressive at 5-6. In this year’s tournament, seven of the SEC’s eight selected teams have played a game. The SEC record is 5-2. Kentucky plays Friday night against Providence.

It is a good start for the SEC but the slate gets tougher quickly. Arkansas has Kansas next; Tennessee gets Duke and Auburn will play Houston. The Tigers might have gotten a break when Houston’s Marcus Sasser aggravated a groin injury against Northern Kentucky.

Next. Crimson Tide in the NCAA Tournament. dark

The crowd distribution on Saturday at Legacy Arena will be interesting. No doubt there will be Auburn fans on hand for the Tide’s game, pulling hard for the Maryland Terrapins.