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Alabama-Auburn: The Most Important Game of the Year

How much does Alabama have riding on today's basketball game? More than you might think.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever Alabama and Auburn compete, it is always a big deal. It doesn't matter the sport or venue. Whether the teams are the top two ranked teams or both have losing records, it is always important to beat that other team. Today's men's basketball game between Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide (4pm CT, SEC Network) continues that trend, but there is so much on the line for the basketball team AND the football team.

1. First off, it's Auburn. Whether it is football, softball, wheelchair basketball (who are going for their sixth national championship by the way), or tiddlywinks, you gotta beat your rival.

2. Keep Auburn down. After yet another dismal season from Anthony Grant in the 2013-14 season in which the Tide went 13-19 (7-11), the heat started to turn up. One name that Bama fans batted around was Bruce Pearl who was working in the private sector while finishing up a three-year show-cause penalty. Despite all the fan criticism, AD Bill Battle gave Grant another year and Pearl landed at Auburn. Pearl's first season at Auburn went 15-20 (4-14). A losing season could be excused because it was a rebuilding year. But now he is in the second year and his team is 11-16 (5-10). Avery Johnson has stolen the spotlight in this first year in the Yellowhammer State and they need to keep the Tigers program in the lower depths they currently occupy. For today and for the future, Bama must win this game. They cannot get swept by this lowly team.

3. On the Bubble. A few weeks ago, it looked like the Tide was a lock for the NCAA Tournament after big road wins at Florida and LSU. Then came the inexplicable inexcusable home loss to a bad Mississippi State (12-15, 5-10) team. They then followed that up with an embarrassing belly flop in Lexington. Even a close loss to Kentucky would've been okay but the Tide managed to lose by 25. There is not much room for error from here on out.

4. CROOTIN' Today marks the second Alabama Junior Day and despite the monicker, there are also several sophomores and freshmen recruits in Tuscaloosa today. Not only for basketball, but for football too.

Gridiron crootin:

Alabama commitment 4-star QB Jake Fromm
Alabama commitment 5-star RB Najee Harris
Daulton Hyatt, QB, Attalla, AL
Edward Ingram, OG, DeSoto, TX
Jack West, QB, Saraland, AL
Kam White, ATH, Clinton, MS
KJ Britt, ILB, Oxford, AL
Monty Rice, ILB, Madison, AL
Robert Beal, DE, Norcross, GA
TaDarian Moultry, LB, Birmingham, AL
Tadarrius Patterson, OLB, Birmingham, AL
Teradja Mitchell, OLB, Virginia Beach, VA
Zech Byrd, TE, Millbrook, AL
Markail Benton, LB, Phenix City, AL
Latavious Brini, CB, Hialeah, FL
Justin Thomas, DE, Spanish Fort, AL - son of former Bama OL Atlas Herrion.

Hoops crootin:

Terrance Ferguson - 5-star guard is committed but not signed yet. Bouncey-ball NSD is April 13, 2016.

5. Demetris Robertson. Among all the underclass recruits is one senior. Once upon a time, Robertson was committed to Alabama. This 5-star WR/DB did not sign on NSD16. The story goes that he was trying to get higher test scores so he could get into Stanford. Nick Saban could not have asked for a better weekend for him to have his official visit. It is a beautiful day and the football team will be receiving the Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Award for winning the 2015 Iron Bowl at halftime of today's game.

If you have ever wanted to help Alabama football recruiting, tweeting recruits is not the way. Get on out to the game this afternoon and cheer your hearts out for the Crimson Tide!