Despite two straight victories, things haven't changed all that much for our beloved Crimson Tide basketball team. For the umpteenth game in a row, Alabama faces the choice of collecting a win against a weakly SEC opponent and barely seeing its RPI improve, or, of course, losing said game and seeing its already tough tourney chances dashed to pieces in the process. This time, the Tide faces the lowly Mississippi State Bulldogs, losers of five billion straight games and challenger of the last team we faced, South Carolina, for absolute worst team in the conference. MSU will also attempt to find victory fresh off the suspension of one of their best players, likely facing the Tide with a mere five scholarship players available.
Actually, you should be. And if you have followed Alabama basketball for longer than two years, you already are. With the Tide's up-and-down season thus far, we're making no predictions, but in case you haven't noticed, Florida's loss to Mizzou actually leaves Alabama in position to win the SEC this year. Chew on that for a minute before you read ahead.
Plus, much the same as when Alabama faces Auburn or Tennessee in football, we really don't care what Mississippi State's record is when we face them on the hardwood floors of Coleman Coliseum. This team has long been our fiercest conference rival in basketball, and we want to crush them, much like we did when we faced them in Starkville last month.
Long-reviled former head hoops coach Rick Stansbury may no longer bark orders for the men of Starkville, but those of us who have followed Tide basketball for the past few decades have no shortage of bad memories from his days at the helm. To be sure, there were disappointing losses to MSU before his tenure, but Stansbury's face became synonymous with all things evil to Bama hoopsters for more than a decade. Although we have been happy to see him ultimately fail and fall from his post, most of us still have gained little love for his former team. The only thing missing is the color orange.
True, State has lost ten straight games for the first time since 1982, and they have lost 11 of their last 15 at Coleman. But while sophomore forward Roquez Johnson was suspended indefinitely by head coach Rick Ray this Monday, junior guard Jalen Steele may conveniently return from his recent suspension. Consequently, Alabama will be missing its own upperclassman, lone senior Andrew Steele (yes, again), which you can read more about here.
And to be sure, the wounded animal that we face this week would love to rip our throats out if it can (metaphorically speaking, of course).
The Bulldogs (7-17, 2-10) travel to Coleman Coliseum to meet the Crimson Tide (17-8, 9-3). Tipoff is scheduled for 7PM and can be viewed on the SEC Network.
Hope for the best. Roll Tide.
**This will serve as our open thread for the game, so chime in below. Roll Tide.