Any reasons to be optimistic about Alabama Basketball?

Alabama v Florida
Alabama v Florida / James Gilbert/GettyImages

Bama Hoops fans are not happy with the Crimson Tide’s effort in a one-and-done quarterfinal exit in the SEC Tournament. The Tide’s uncompetitive loss to Florida in Nashville would be more excusable had it been an anomaly, but this game was a mirror image of Alabama’s disappointing close to the regular season. 

In fact, it has been nearly a month since Bama played good basketball at a somewhat consistent rate. Once sitting atop the SEC and firmly in control of its own destiny, Alabama Basketball has now gone 2-4 in its last six games. Over that stretch, the Tide has given up a mind-boggling 96.8 points per game. It has surrendered at least 81 points in each of those six games and allowed its opponent to eclipse the century mark three times. 

Sure, it faced a backloaded SEC schedule, but no one would argue that Alabama is not playing its best ball right now.

So, are there any reasons for Bama Hoops fans to be optimistic about the Tide’s NCAA Tournament prospects next week? 

Of course there are. Obviously, the Tide looks to be trending down, but everything is not doom & gloom for a team that won 21 regular season games, went 13-5 in a very tough conference, and earned a double-bye in the SEC Tournament.

I would advise Alabama Basketball fans that are just ready for this season to be over to recall the pre-Nate Oats era, which saw the Tide make just two NCAA Tournaments in a 13-year span. 

While Oats has quickly recalibrated the expectations of the fan base and it may be disingenuous to compare this season to the Anthony Grant/Avery Johnson era, it is still beneficial for Bama Hoops fans to keep perspective. It may not feel like it today, but we are in the midst of a Golden Era of Alabama Basketball and should be exercising some patience with one of the best coaches in school history. 

Three reasons Bama can still make a run

1. Tournament experience

Three of Alabama’s starters, Mark Sears, Rylan Griffen, and Nick Pringle, were key rotational pieces on last season’s team that was the no. 1 overall seed and made it to the Sweet 16. This trio should know what to expect heading into the tourney, and should be able to provide some valuable guidance and leadership.

Sears was also a role player for the Ohio Bobcats in 2021. That season, Ohio won its conference tournament and upset the Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the Big Dance before falling to Creighton. Sears recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in the two tournament games.

Additionally, guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. was a starter for Cal State Fullerton when it made the tourney in 2022. The 15th-seeded Titans lost to an eventual Final Four team in Duke, but were fairly competitive in the game. Wrightsell played 30 minutes and scored six points in the loss to the Blue Devils. 

All of this collective experience should benefit the Tide, who will not be wide-eyed when it takes the floor for its first round game. 

2. High floor

Though Alabama has had some frustrating losses this season and has been blown out multiple times by quality opponents, it still has not lost to a lower-tier team. Its worst losses were probably a pair of non-conference games against Ohio State and Clemson way back in November. The Buckeyes and the Tigers may miss the Dance after losses in their respective conference tourneys this week, but both were bubble teams that won 20+ games. 

Every other loss the Crimson Tide has taken this season came at the hands of a tournament lock. In fact, most of the teams that defeated Alabama will be very high seeds looking to make a run of their own this March.

Given that Bama will likely be on the 4- or 5-seed line, it should be a considerable favorite in round one. The Tide will likely be paired with a very good mid-major and will have to play well to avoid an upset, but I like Alabama’s chances to get at least one win. 

Offensive firepower

This point has been reiterated all season, but this team has explosive offensive capabilities. It didn’t happen in Nashville, but there is always the chance for Alabama to go nuclear from beyond the arc and shoot its opponent right out of the gym.

The Tide has been somewhat cold lately, but what better time than the present for the nation’s highest-scoring team to find its touch? It’s now or never for Alabama Basketball.