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Jumbo Package: Top ranked Alabama looks dominant headed into Sweet 16, Football spring practice starts today

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Maryland vs Alabama Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. It was a mixed weekend for the Tide. Women’s basketball started off hot but then blew a big lead to Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament, finishing with five consecutive losses to close the season. Gymnastics has experienced an inverse trajectory, finishing 2nd in the SEC after a slow start to the season. Baseball dropped two of three but was very competitive on the road against 2nd-ranked Florida. Softball has split the first two games of a series vs. Arkansas that is scheduled to finish today.

The men’s basketball team will of course head on to Louisville where San Diego State awaits on Friday. Tip-off in that one will be at 5:30 CT. Through two games, Alabama has looked every bit the part of a number one overall seed.

The Tide isn’t just beating opponents. It’s annihilating them. A five-game postseason winning streak dating back to the start of the SEC Tournament comes with a 19.2-point average margin of victory.

San Diego State will be the next team to try. The Aztecs are fairly equipped. They come in fifth nationally in defensive efficiency and force opponents into possessions averaging 18.5 seconds, the 17th-slowest in all of college basketball. While Brian Dutcher’s team previously faced high-powered offenses from Arkansas and Arizona and lost both, it did severely slow Utah State, the Mountain West’s best offense (17th nationally) in a three-game sweep this season.

While it’s always important to reiterate that every single game after round one of the NCAA Tournament is a potential loss for any team, as we’ve seen across the bracket this year, Alabama couldn’t ask for a better setup. If they don’t make the Final Four as the top overall seed, entering the second weekend with the 2, 3, and 4 seeds in their region already knocked out, then it just wasn’t meant to be.

There are all kinds of interesting storylines left for the Tide. There is a very good chance that a national title run would include revenge games against Creighton for that infamous jobbing in Greensboro back in 2012, then Tennessee and Gonzaga for losses this season.

There is also still a possibility of a Final Four comprised of Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas, which would be an All-SEC group a couple of years from now.

Of course, the whole “likes it or not” bit is a reference to the murder case involving former Alabama player Darius Miles. Quinn’s piece fairly reports that the gun had been in Miller’s car without claiming he “delivered” it. We are all tired of talking about it at this point, but it’s worth mentioning Tuscaloosa Patch writer Ryan Phillips, who initially provided the most contextual account of the testimony from Miles’ preliminary hearing. Over the weekend, Phillips penned his own timeline of events after having the opportunity to review the same video and text evidence obtained earlier by ESPN. His account paints a very different picture.

From one angle in particular, when the first shot can be heard, an initial muzzle flash can be clearly seen inside the Jeep on the driver’s side. This was followed by two more bright muzzle flashes from the same spot within the blacked-out windshield as Davis is now seen in the open and away from the Jeep returning fire. While it is not conclusive who fired first, this development is the most compelling yet when considering the rest of the evidence presented thus far.

During this time, Davis fired a total of eight rounds, mostly as he was running away.

Equally important are the split-seconds of the shooting showing Davis — who at this point is out in the open for the recording and has established a few feet of distance from the Jeep.

In one of the final shots fired during the shooting and seemingly after Davis has been struck by gunfire, security camera footage shows him firing a shot that appears to shatter the Jeep’s windshield, with glass spraying up and the windshield showing visible signs of damage.

Most likely it seems it was this shot that struck Harris on the left side of her face as she sat in the passenger seat, killing the 23-year-old mother, but that has yet to be confirmed by her autopsy.

This obviously calls further into question who fired first, and based on Phillips’ account the behavior of Johnson leading up to that moment contributed heavily to the incident. This is obviously one person’s reporting but it is first hand, and if things happened the way he says they did, then Miles and Davis may well go free. Ryan also is the first I’ve seen to mention that Johnson is the father of Harris’s five year old son who tragically and senselessly lost his mother over what appears to be a petty spat.

Last, Alabama football kicks off spring practice today. Chase Goodbread is trying to prepare you for a QB battle that may well drag into the season. He isn’t wrong that we have seen this movie before.

Charged with a level of oversight on this competition will be new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, the former Notre Dame quarterback whose leadership in the quarterback room will be a tone-setter. But 15 practices and three scrimmages, frankly, isn’t a lot to go on. Some coaches handicap quarterback battles by at least declaring a frontrunner, if not a winner, at the conclusion of spring drills. Saban isn’t one of them.

Not for the AJ McCarron-Phillip Sims battle of 2011.

Not when Blake Sims beat out Jake Coker in 2014, and certainly not when national attention fell on the competition between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts in 2018.

This is the first year in memory when so little has been written about football in March. Well done, Nate Oats. Well done.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.