The NCAA committee has spoken, and the 2011-2012 Alabama Crimson Tide has done enough to gain entry into the game’s most prestigious tournament.
Alabama was tabbed as a 9 seed in the Midwest Regional where it faces 8th seed Creighton (28-5) this Friday. Game time is slated for 12:40pm CDT televised by TBS.
The Tide’s appearance in the big dance will be its first since 2006 and its 20th overall.
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant takes Alabama to the tournament in his third year at Alabama, a feat his predecessor (Mark Gottfried) didn’t accomplish until his fourth season. Gottfried would then lead Bama to five straight tourney bids, including an Elite 8 appearance in 2004.
Creighton is an outstanding mid-major offensive team, but Alabama’s angle on the game is defense. Few teams escape the 50′s against the Tide. The problem is, the same is true for Alabama, regardless of who they’re playing.
Most experts think Creighton takes care of business to advance to Sunday’s game against North Carolina (the midwest no. 1 seed). But it was a good (but not great) Bama team that took down Southern Illinios, Stanford and Syracuse to come within a game of making the Final Four in 2004.
Anything can happen in the tournament. Ask VCU. But the pundits are likely correct. But still, just the fact that Alabama is dancing again after a six-year drought is victory enough.
Hopefully the day will soon come, however, when making the tournament isn’t enough. Hopefully going deep, making the Final Four and beyond will one day be a realistic focus in Tuscaloosa.
But for now, just not losing to a team whose mascot resembles a character on an off-brand, generic kid’s cereal box is the goal.