After six years of missing out on the Big Dance, the Alabama Crimson Tide can finally put their dancing shoes back on as they were selected to the 68-team field on Sunday night. Most experts had Alabama lined up as a 9-seed coming into the day, and that is exactly what the Crimson Tide received.
The Crimson Tide were selected as the 9-seed in the Midwest region, and are set for an opening round game with the 8-seeded Creighton Blue Jays, the Champions of the Missouri Valley Conference. Alabama will play Creighton on Friday in Greensboro. If Alabama is to win, it would set up a second round matchup with the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels barring the first ever 16-seed over a 1-seed.
For those of you thinking this is an easy matchup for Alabama based on Creighton not being in the “Big Six Conferences”, you need to do a little research on the Blue Jays. Creighton won 28 games to just 5 losses, and were one of the most potent offensive teams in the nation in 2011-12. Creighton averaged 80 points per game, which ranked 7th in the nation and had the highest FG% (51%) in the nation. In the Pomery rankings, Creighton had the 5th best offense in the country.
Creighton’s offensive potency is thanks mainly to one of the best players in the nation, 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Doug McDermott, who is going to cause all kinds of matchup problems for the Crimson Tide. McDermott averaged 23 points and 8 rebounds per game this season to go along with 61% shooting from the floor, and 50% shooting from downtown.
Creighton can hit three’s all night long, so expect them to shoot a lot against Alabama. While Creighton has a great offense, they have yet to see a defense like Alabama’s, so it should be a good matchup. One thing is for sure, Alabama is going to need to knock down some triples to have a chance in this game. I’ll give a more in-depth preview of the Alabama/Creighton matchup later in the week.
It was a roller coaster season for Alabama with the wave of suspensions that happened during SEC play, but the main take away is that Anthony Grant has put Alabama back in the NCAA Tournament in his third year on the job in Tuscaloosa. It’s been a long time coming. Alabama had a beef with the committee last season after being left out of the tournament despite winning 12 games in the SEC.
Instead, Alabama went on to play for the NIT Championship at Madison Square Garden where the Tide lost to Wichita State. There was no such drama on Selection Sunday this year for Alabama as they were comfortably in the NCAA Tournament coming into tonight.
Despite all the distractions, Alabama was able to finish the year 21-11, and will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 when they were knocked out in the second round by UCLA.
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