‘Bama vs. AU in the NIT? A possibility

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Sports Editor

If you’re not an Alabama fan, then you should be pretty excited about the NCAA basketball tournament starting up this Thursday.

Do you think maybe the NCAA is trying to send a message to the Capstone?

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In other words, NCAA to Bama: not only are we investigating your football program, but 21 wins by your basketball team, in the toughest conference in the nation, can’t even get you into the tourney. Even though, in recent memory, a 20-win season has become a virtual automatic lock for the field-of-64 when a team comes out of the SEC.

So it’s the NIT for both Alabama and Auburn, while Alabama State gets the last laugh and makes it in as a No. 16 seed by virtue of winning the SWAC title. The Hornets will also have the last cry since they’ll play defending national champ Michigan State in the first round.

You know, that’s sort of like showing your child a brand new bicycle and then taking a sledgehammer to it in front of him.

Maybe if ‘Bama goes all the way and wins the National Invitational Tournament, they should change the name to the Not Invited Tide tournament.

Speaking of some of the teams that did get in…

Georgia State (TAAC, West 11th): I had the opportunity to see this team play in person against Troy State. The Trojans won that day and came close to beating the Panthers again in the rematch in Atlanta a week later. Then came a meltdown in the TAAC championship, where TSU didn’t play their best game. GSU is fun to watch, with Georgetown transfer Shenard Long the best of the bunch, but they’re not tall inside. However, Panthers head coach "Lefty" Driesell can coach with anybody.

Tennessee (SEC, Midwest 8th): Do you remember that losing streak the Vols put together a few weeks back? I wish they’d kept it going. Every time I see Tennessee on television, it feels like I’m watching a spoiled bunch of individual kids playing "yard-ball" behind someone’s house. Whoever called UT point guard Tony Harris a punk deserves a Pulitzer. Not only did Harris try to storm the floor against the Kentucky bench during a game at midseason, but Vols’ forward Ron Slay got into an argument with Georgia fans after another loss and the whole Tennessee team started a fight at a pizza party in the Rainbow Classic tournament. If the Vols spent more time playing ball then talking trash, then they might actually stop "choking" so much in big games.

Duke (ACC, East 1st): For some reason Duke always comes into this tournament and looks like they’re just a step above everyone else. Then the Blue Devils end up packing things up somewhere down the line. They blew it two years ago against Connecticut, when Coach K’s crew was supposed to be so unbeatable, and again last season to Florida.

Kentucky (SEC, East 2nd): The more things change the more things stay the same. The Wildcats were written off early in the season, but came back to win the SEC Tournament Championship by bombing Ole Miss. And this after Florida won the regular season title. Kentucky did the same thing two years ago, winning the tourney championship, while Auburn took regular season honors.

Notre Dame (Big East, Midwest 6th): The Fighting Irish have a basketball team for the first team since Digger Phelps coached under the Golden Dome. Phelps is now an ESPN analyst and now, instead of trying to solve the Box-and-one, he’s trying to figure out ways to shut up everybody’s favorite bandwagon fan Dick Vitale.