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NCAA Tournament First Round: #2 Alabama vs #15 Iona Game Thread

2-seed Alabama Crimson Tide (24-6, 16-2 SEC) vs 15-seed Iona Gaels (12-5, 6-3 MAAC)

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Lousiana State vs Alabama Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally time for the Big Dance, as the Alabama Crimson Tide starts up its 2021 NCAA Tournament journey with a First Round match-up with Rick Pitino and his Iona Gaels. It’s been an amazing year for Tide Hoops, arguably the best in the school’s history, and now it is time to put an emphatic exclamation mark on it with a deep tournament run.

That starts today. The Tide is a hefty 17-point favorite over Iona, but as yesterday showed, large spreads don’t mean anything come March. I’m sure Nate Oats had the guys watching every bit of Ohio State-Oral Roberts and Purdue-North Texas, not to mention the hysterical tragedy that was Tennessee’s performance yesterday.

With Josh Primo out, Alabama will need its best from the rest of the roster. Iona is capable, so the Tide needs to be sharp. The starting five should be the same as the SEC Championship Game: Herbert Jones, John Petty, Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis, and Jordan Bruner. Expect a ton of Jahvon Quinerly and Juwan Gary off of the bench today and for the remainder of the Tide’s tournament run. Alex Reese and James Rojas will also serve big roles.

The game tips at 3:00 PM CDT and will be televised on TBS. Time to get moving, Tide.