76.1 F
Huntsville
79 F
Muscle Shoals
77.5 F
Albertville
75.7 F
Fort Payne

How about them apples? UA, AU, UAB go west seeking NCAA fruit

SPOKANE, Wash. – The University of Alabama, Auburn University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham share many commonalities, not just all calling the Heart of Dixie home. And heading east to west, a fan could drive 110 miles from Auburn to Birmingham, and then 59 or so more to Tuscaloosa.

To get to March Madness to see one of the above schools play basketball in March Madness, that same fan would have to travel 2,400 miles.

Madness, indeed.

One has to wonder if perhaps Greg Byrne, the Crimson Tide athletic director and a member of the NCAA selection committee, nudged his colleagues to place his school and perhaps UAB as well in Spokane try and stave off criticism for not just sending the Tigers at No. 4 out West in the the toughest regional after winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Not just that, Auburn had the bonafides in NET and KenPom rankings to validate a much higher seeding. But, we’ll never know.

As it is, the Tigers, Tide and Blazers all open play Friday, albeit not all in the same region bracket, at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

Matchups:

No. 4 Auburn (27-7) vs. No. 13 Yale (22-9)

  • First round: East Region
  • Odds: Auburn (-12.5)
  • Date: Friday
  • Time: 3:15 p.m. CT
  • TV: TNT
  • Arena: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
  • NET, KenPom Rankings: Auburn (5, 4); Yale (83, 84)
  • Auburn coach Bruce Pearl: “We’re playing well and playing together. I tell our teams: Don’t think you have to get to the last game to play for the national championship. You are playing for the national championship when you play Yale. You can’t win it if you aren’t in it.”

No. 4 Alabama (21-11) vs. No. 13 Coastal Carolina (27-7)

  • First round: West Region
  • Odds: Alabama -9.5
  • Date: Friday
  • Time: 6:35 p.m. CT
  • TV: TruTV
  • Arena: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
  • NET, KenPom Rankings: Alabama (9, 13), Coastal Carolina (97, 98)
  • Alabama coach Nate Oats: “We’re treating it like it’s a whole new season and we’re playing a really good team. I’ve been on the other side of this. I’ve been a 13-seed playing a four at Buffalo and came in and beat Arizona, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of the mindset of that group. And they’re hungry. I’m sure they can’t wait to play us.”

No. 5  San Diego State (24-10) vs. No. 12 UAB (23-11)

  • First round: East Region
  • Odds: San Diego State -6.5
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 12:45 p.m. CT
  • TV: TNT
  • Arena: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane, Wash.
  • NET, KenPom Rankings: San Diego State (20, 20), UAB (104, 106)
  • UAB coach Adam Kennedy: “It’s my first trip to Spokane and I’m hoping we can stay a few days. I’m happy for my team. They definitely earned their way. I don’t like the term ‘bid theft.’ We didn’t steal anything. We earned our way here through the play of our boys. I’m really happy for them and for the opportunity this tournament presents.”

 

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