Believe it or not, we are about a third of the way through the college football regular season, as most teams have played 4 games by now, which means that basketball season is coming up on us pretty quickly. Though the University released Alabama's full basketball schedule about a month ago, we now know the times and networks for each game:
|Nov. 14||Towson||8 p.m|
|Nov. 17||Western Carolina||SECN||8 p.m.|
|Nov. 20||Southern Miss||SECN||8 p.m.|
|Nov. 24||Iowa St*||ESPN2||8:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 25||Maryland/Ariz. St*||ESPN3/U||6/8:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 2||So. Florida||SECN||8 p.m.|
|Dec. 6||at Xavier||CBSSN||7 p.m.|
|Dec. 16||at Wichita State||ESPN2||8 p.m.|
|Dec. 19||Stillman||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 21||Appalachian St.||SECN||5:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 28||UCLA||ESPNU||5:30 p.m.|
|Jan. 2||North Florida||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 6||Texas A&M||SECN||8 p.m.|
|Jan. 10||at Tennessee||SECN||1 p.m.|
|Jan. 13||at South Carolina||SECN||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 17||Kentucky||ESPN/2||3 p.m.|
|Jan. 22||at Arkansas||ESPN/2||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 24||Auburn||SECN||7:30 p.m.|
|Jan. 27||Florida||ESPN||8 p.m.|
|Jan. 31||at Kentucky||SECN||6 p.m.|
|Feb. 4||Missouri||SECN||8 p.m.|
|Feb. 7||at LSU||ESPN/2||5 p.m.|
|Feb. 10||at Mississippi St.||SECN||8 p.m.|
|Feb. 14||Vanderbilt||ESPNU||7 p.m.|
|Feb. 17||at Auburn||ESPNU||8 p.m.|
|Feb. 21||Georgia||ESPN2||7 p.m.|
|Feb. 24||South Carolina||SECN||6 p.m.|
|Feb. 28||at Vanderbilt||FSN||3 p.m.|
|Mar. 3||Ole Miss||SECN||6 p.m.|
|Mar. 7||Texas A&M||FSN||1 p.m.|
|Mar. 11-15||SEC Tournament||ESPN/SECN||
A few notes about the Tide's 2014-15 basketball schedule:
- 27 of Alabama's 31 regular season games will be televised. The birth of the SEC Network was a major coup for the conference as a whole, but the network will provide an enormous benefit to basketball in particular. With the SEC's recent struggles on the hardwood, the conference could certainly use any medium it can to raise interest in the sport. If you televise it, recruits will come. 13 of Alabama's games will be televised exclusively on the SEC Network (and streamed on ESPN3 as well).
- I really like how Alabama's non-conference schedule is organized. The Tide will play two soft opponents (Towson and Western Carolina) to warm things up, and then follow that up with a decent test against Southern Miss, all of which are at home. Then, Anthony Grant's squad will head to Kansas City, MO during Thanksgiving week to play in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, where they will face a very good Iowa State team in the semifinals. Maryland and Arizona State will also be in the field, and Alabama will play one of those teams win or lose. The rest of the non-conference schedule has a nice mix of easy games (Tennessee Tech, Stillman, Appalachian State, North Florida) and tough tests (USF, at Xavier, at Wichita State, UCLA), so our group will have plenty of time to develop as a team and also build a strong resume before conference play even begins. Also, tell me you aren't looking to get some revenge after agonizingly close losses a year ago to those last four teams I mentioned.
-The first eight games of conference play are brutal. Defending National Runner-Up Kentucky twice, Final Four and defending unbeaten SEC Champion Florida, and a game in Bud Walton Arena againstand a veteran Arkansas team are all before the midway mark of the SEC season for Alabama. Not to mention a trip to Tennessee, a rebuilding team with plenty of talent, a trip to South Carolina, a team that is in Year 3 under Frank Martin, and Bruce Pearl's reinvigorated Auburn program at home. The Crimson Tide better win that home conference opener against A&M.
-The flip side to that rough start is that the last ten games are favorable, and could lead to a strong finish to the season. If Alabama can find a way to split the first eight games, a 6-4 finish is likely, with a decent possibility at going 7-3. That would put the Tide at either 10-8 or 11-7 in SEC play, which, if coupled with say, a 10-3 non-conference record, would have Alabama sitting right there for a NCAA Tournament bid. The blueprint is there, Alabama just needs to take advantage of it.
Before we get into all of that though, the Crimson Tide really just needs to focus on improving their own play for now. Alabama will host Montevallo in an exhibition game November 10th, before tipping off the regular season with Towson on November 14th.