We’re not gonna’ look behind us too much today; there’s a whole lot to link to, and I want to get to some of the tournament stuff. But, just know, that Alabama’s small contingent in Nashville was outstanding.
You folks made a difference.
i told y’all on friday that there were a lot of bammers in nashville. our fans were LOUD this weekend. thanks to everyone who made a game and was part of this special time in alabama basketball history. https://t.co/WTFEuwF8rW— Cameron Luke Ratliff (@fluffopotamus88) March 15, 2021
I know as fans, we like to think that we have a part to play in our teams’ successes, and in a way they do — these players feed off that enthusiasm and energy. Thanks for traveling to Nashville, being loud, and being involved.
It has worked out okay, hasn’t it?
Now, on to the Tournament links, bracket breakdowns, projections and #hot #takes
- We’ve already had some luck — one of the three worst officials in CBB is going to be out: TV Teddy will be watching from home owing to failing a ‘Rona protocol. And, I’m not going to wish COVID on anyone, but he should take Pat Adams and Doug Shows with him...just to be safe.
- Celtics coach Brad Stevens has nothing but love for Nate Oats and Rick Pitino...and the gorgeous edifice that is Hinkel Fieldhouse.
- Nate Oats this morning again shot down his name being mentioned for other jobs.
- Josh Primo may sit out the Iona game. He’s still rehabbing from [UNDISCLOSED LOWER LEG INJURY].
- If you missed Nate Oats on CBS SportsLine here’s his media appearance yesterday (YouTube link).
- During Sunday’s Selection Show, Nate Oats also joined Y! Bracketologists for a sit-down. Check that one out here.
- There were some curious at-large bids and snubs this year. OUT: Louisville; IN: Syracuse, and Utah State — the latter without even a play-in game.
- The Cardinals were the first out for the Tournament committee this year. The Committee chair this year just happens to be the long-time UK Athletic Director, Mitch Barnhard. Probably a coincidence, right?
One Shining Moment
Alabama isn’t sneaking up on anyone this year. Many see Gonzaga as a foregone conclusion; or the favor a red-hot and tested Illinois team cutting down the nets (among others). But Coach Oats squad is getting a lot of
rat poison love too. One thing I do know, is that the Gods hate inevitability.
So, why not us?
Bayless selected the Crimson Tide to beat Arkansas in the national championship game in what would be a rubber match to settle the regular-season series. Bayless had Iowa and Oklahoma State round out his Final Four. “That coach Nate Oats, I think he’s on his way to becoming a Roy Williams or maybe even a Coach K,” said Bayless.
Heat Check has a fantastic breakdown of all 68 teams right here:
Good luck finding many teams more entertaining than Alabama .... They can still win without hitting the three thanks to their elite defense, but nobody is beating them when they are connecting from distance.
From CBS Sportsline; Chip Patterson (among others) favors ‘Bama to cut down the nets:
Predicted champion: Alabama
The Crimson Tide play at a relentless pace, shoot a ton of threes and defend at an elite level. In an NCAA Tournament that may be mentally exhausting at times because of the strict protocol and bubble-ish existence in Indiana, the last opponent you want to face is Alabama. The Tide want to run, get up in your face on defense and can change the fortunes of a game in three minutes or less if they get hot from 3-point range or force a couple quick turnovers. It’s a blue-collar team that welcomes the grind, and that mentality will pay off during the ups and downs of an unprecedented NCAA Tournament
Mike DeCourcy has ‘Bama as his wildcard in the tournament — and a team that can unseat Gonzaga in the Final Four
Alabama. The weird thing about the Crimson Tide isn’t that they’re good at basketball, too, it’s that they’re known for their 3-point shooting when their best quality is how they defend. Alabama has the nation’s second-best D. The Tide will take the ball away from you. If you keep it, they’ll block your shots. They’ll stop you from getting the attempts you want and from making those you take. And if they bomb in 20 or so threes, they’re darned near impossible to beat.
The Bleacher Report has some disrepect for ‘Bama though, and like Parker, is terrified of UConn and Bouknight. Me? I don’t think the Huskies have seen a swarming defense played quite like this all season and don’t have the athleticism to get all three of their studs going at one time. LSU is leaps and bounds more of a handful than UConn. Hell, I’m not even convinced that they beat Maryland (in fact, I don’t think they do.)
About 2/3rd of the SI crew see ‘Bama making a Final Four run. There is one notable exception who has projected what I think are the two most dangerous teams out there — the Texas Longhorns and FSU Seminoles. Getting UT to play six straight good games is a stretch (ditto FSU), but both are capable of it and are custom-built to give ‘Bama trouble.
The Ringer also pegs ‘Bama (somewhat drolly) as its Final Four rep:
The Final Four Pick: Alabama
I regret to inform you that Alabama is good at every sport now. The Crimson Tide just won their sixth football national championship in the past 12 years; they’re ranked fourth in softball and eighth in gymnastics; they won the women’s wheelchair basketball championship and finished second in men’s; and they just won the SEC title in men’s hoops for the first time in 30 years. Michigan looked shaky down the stretch, losing three of its final five games. I’m rolling with the Tide to win this region.
More at the link above.
Have I told you lately I would take a bullet for Nate Oats? Because I totally would. And not one of those visceral shots to the muscle — no, I’d take one of those scraping flesh wounds that rips and burns great columns of skin off your body and leave you panting in agony. (SOURCE: I’ve actually been shot...surprising no one).
Because, among other things, he has learned to hate the right people early.
GTFOH, Will Wade. This is our conference.
I believe Nate Oats was telling LSU to get the fuck outta his gym. pic.twitter.com/XJID8YlUIG— Brandon Walker (@BWalkerSEC) March 14, 2021
The East may be among the least intriguing brackets out there. It doesn’t have a ton of interesting early games, though it does have some interesting teams, a lot of balance at the top...and a lot of questions to be answered.
- Can No. 10 Maryland recapture that magic that let them sweep Minnesota, beat Rutgers, Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Illinois?
- Oh, hai! It’s Rick Pitino — One of just three coaches in history to lead five teams to the NCAA tournament (and the only one to rail a Perkin’s waitress over a table after last call). The man may have the morals of a greased weasel on biker crank, but he didn’t forget how to coach. In fact, he is one of Nate Oats heroes, and Oats’ brashness and aggressively-built teams certainly fall in line, don’t they?
- Is a fully healthy No. 7 UConn poised to go on a run? Parker loves this team. I think they’re good, but that Bama just beat two better, far more athletic teams. Even if Bouknight goes off (and he likely will), the Huskies are going to need Tyrese Martin and RJ Cole to go off. And their bench is fairly deep, but is it Primo / Shackelford / Jelly / Ellis good? No. In fact, it’s not that UConn doesn’t have three guys that good; it’s that they don’t have even one coming of the bench that can match Q.
- Texas and FSU are going to be a load. They have had times this year where they have been simply dominant. Inconsistency has plagued both. But I think it’s safe to say both are better teams than their seeds and both are helmed by steady, veteran NCAA tournament coaches.
Here are some excellent divisional breakdowns to send you out with — each Bracket meticulously broken down:
The winner: No. 2 Alabama. In a region this balanced, it’s hard to pick among any of the four seeds. Each has a good opportunity to make the Final Four because there isn’t much difference among them. The Crimson Tide and No. 3 Texas are coming off winning their conference tournaments, which makes their potential showdown in the Sweet 16 mouth-watering and possibly decisive in making it out of the bracket.
From Sports Illustrated:
Between No. 9 seed St. Bonaventure and No. 7 UConn, I’m confident that at least one of the top two seeds in this region will get bounced in the opening weekend. Whichever of the top two survives will be in the driver’s seat to win the region, and I’ll give a slight edge to Alabama here. As I wrote above, the Bonnies are perfectly positioned for a deep run thanks to their experience, talent and coaching, combined with drawing a weakened Michigan team. Meanwhile, Alabama has a challenging road but continues to win me over with its shot-making ability and competitiveness, and Herbert Jones might be the best player in this region. If the Tide can get past a UConn team playing great basketball, they have a great chance of reaching the Final Four.
Not everyone is sold on Texas being dangerous down the stretch, though. The Longhorns have made everything hard on themselves this year.
Team that will make a far-too-early exit
(3) Texas: It’s easy to latch onto teams that win their conference tournaments and think their momentum will carry into the NCAA Tournament, but there is plenty of data to suggest that’s not a surefire way to predict first weekend winners. Everything with the Longhorns is a sweat. Just look at their 19-7 record but a deeper five reveals they carry just the 58th best scoring margin in the country at +6.4. It doesn’t seem to matter the way the games are always close, whether it’s the one-point, low-scoring win against Texas Tech in the Big 12 quarterfinals or the 91-86 track meet against Oklahoma State in the title game.
And very few people are talking about the 1-seed Wolverines — for a reason. They’ve had late injuries, have shown an athelticism gap, and come into this having lost 3-of-5:
A few weeks ago, this would’ve been Michigan’s bracket to lose. Before Isaiah Livers’ foot injury, before the Wolverines struggled down the stretch. It is wide open now, with SEC Tournament champion Alabama, the second seed, and Big 12 Tournament winner Texas, at No. 3, both capable of reaching the final weekend. So is No. 4 Florida State and BYU, under-seeded as a six. Seventh-seeded UConn and Brooklyn’s James Bouknight can do damage. LSU, too talented to be an eighth seed, can make noise as well. The survivor won’t be a surprise.
I could to this all day, but this is already at 2000 words, and there’s more than enough to get started with. Peruse the links; take our poll; and chime in below:
Going into the NCAA tournament, what would constitute a successful season?
This poll is closed
It’s already been a success
Make it to the Sweet 16 — second weekend or bust.
Please just beat Iona and get out of the first round
This team can make a serious run, and it should: Elite 8
I’m all-in: Final Four
Championship schools outta’ win championships. Cut down the nets.