Alabama Basketball looks to get over the hump

Grand Canyon v Alabama
Grand Canyon v Alabama / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
3 of 3

Alabama looks to end lengthy Elite Eight drought

There is also history on the line for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has advanced to the Elite 8 only once (2004), and holds a 1-8 all-time record in Sweet 16 games. In five years under Nate Oats, who may one day be considered the best basketball coach in school history, the Tide has gone 0-2 in the Sweet 16. If it didn’t already feel a little bit like a curse, it certainly began to after last season’s NCAA Tournament. 

Bama was the no. 1 overall seed in the 2023 Tournament, having completed the school’s best regular season since at least 1986-87, and perhaps ever. It won easily in the first two rounds and headed into the second weekend with a 31-5 record, but was upset by San Diego State. Can the Tide break through that Sweet 16 wall tonight?

Historical implications for the blue-blooded Tar Heels?

North Carolina is one of the traditional powers of college basketball. The program has numerous national titles, Final Fours, legendary coaches and players, and more. A Sweet 16 game doesn’t quite carry the same historical significance for the Heels as it does for the Tide. Additionally, there is one interesting footnote regarding recent UNC history. 

The last time the Tar Heels were a 1-seed was in the 2018-19 season. That year, the Heels rolled in their first two NCAA Tournament games, easily winning both by double-digits. However, North Carolina’s season ended abruptly in the Sweet 16 at the hands of an SEC team from the state of Alabama. 

Of course, a game from five years ago is not actually relevant to tonight’s contest, and nobody affiliated with the Crimson Tide wants to be compared to Auburn. Still, the circumstances heading into this game are eerily similar, and the then-5th-seeded Tigers laid out the blueprint for Bama to upset the Heels.

Plus, it’s much easier to reference Auburn snapping its own Elite Eight drought when the Tigers have already been sitting at home for almost a week in this year’s tournament. 

There is a lot on the line for Alabama Basketball tonight, but Nate Oats’ team is playing with house money. The pressure is off, and the Crimson Tide should be loose from the opening tip.