The Crimson Tide pulled off a tremendous 68-62 victory over South Carolina last night at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. It was a huge victory for the Tide as they moved to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in the SEC. That backed up a 68-61 home victory for Avery Johnson’s squad over Vanderbilt last Saturday..
The great 17 year old freshman guard Kyra Lewis poured in 17 and was 3-for-6 from trifecta against the Gamecocks. Awesome big man Donta Hall had another double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Tevin Mack added 11. And the best player on the floor last night, not the most talented, but the best and most efficient player, was 5th year senior Riley Norris, who had 11 points and a critical steal and score at the end of the game to seal it for the Tide.
Alabama is projected by the great Joey “Brackets” Lunardi as an 11 seed and playing No.6 seed Kansas State at the Midwest Regional in Tulsa. I trust everything Joe says, he’s phenomenal. The committee should just listen to him and use his bracket to make their selections. Joe works tirelessly on his brackets every 3 to 4 days and his predictions make so much sense. He likes the Crimson Tide as a last 4 team to get a bye. I think the Tide matches up favorably with Kansas State. With their defense, and with better shooting , they could knock off K State or any team they play in the first round as long as it’s not a number 1 or 2 seed. K State struggles with their shooting as well at times, so if Bama can keep their excellent defense going and get the ball through the net more, they’re a dangerous squad. I really like what Riley Norris does for this team. He’s the most underrated player in the conference and really one of the most underrated players in the country. Just a terrific basketball player.
The Crimson Tide has a huge game Saturday at home versus LSU which will be televised by ESPN at 11 AM CT. If the Tide can pull that off, they will have a major quadrant 1 victory and will really help their tournament hopes.Quadrant 1 victories are critical for teams and their tournament hopes Those are victories against top 50 teams. Very important to win some of those. That victory Could almost secure their bid. Then they host the Auburn Tigers next Tuesday, 3-5, at 8 PM at Coleman. ESPN will also televise that contest. A week from Saturday, March 9th, the Tide will travel to Arkansas to face the Razorbacks at 5 PM CT on the SEC Network. So a lot of work for the Tide to secure their tournament bid along with a strong showing at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, March 13-17th.
Auburn lost a tough one to UK last Saturday at Rupp, 80-53. I didn’t even recognize that Auburn team. This team is a lot better than that. They are presently 7-7 in the SEC and 18-9 overall and Joe has them as an 8 seed and playing Texas in the South Regional in Columbus, Ohio. AU is still a very good team, and just needs to regain their momentum. The Tigers are @Georgia tonight at 8 CT on ESPNU. Saturday, the Tigers host Mississippi State at 3 PM CT on ESPNu. Next Tuesday, it’s the Crimson Tide at 8 PM CT on ESPN and the Tigers close out the regular season versus Tennessee at home at 11 AM CT, Saturday, March 9th, at Auburn Arena. ESPN or the Deuce will televise. So Auburn could get some quality victories down the stretch and secure an even higher seed in the NCAA Tournament if they can get these quality victories and play well in the SEC Tourney.
With Zion Williamson out for Duke with a sprained knee, the tournament could be much more open. My Final Four is Duke, with Williamson, without him they’re not in, Virginia, Gonzaga and Kentucky. Michigan State, UNC, LSU and Tennessee are knocking on the door. Duke with Williamson is the favorite to win it all. Without Williamson, I don’t see them making the Final Four. I really like Virginia. The great Jay Bilas calls superstar guards Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy, as players, “who look like Boy Scouts, but play like Navy Seals.” DeAndre Hunter is a superstar for the Cavaliers. Gonzaga is a high quality team that defeated Duke with Williamson. They look Final Four worthy, though interestingly, Tennessee defeated them at a neutral site in December. Kentucky is playing very well though they just got by Arkansas at Rupp last night, 70-66. P.J. Washington may be playing the best basketball of any player in the country. Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans are superb players. The Cats are for real. Michigan State is another defensive juggernaut under Tom Izzo. Point guard Cassius Winston is a phenomenal player. You never count out the Spartans. Excellent team. North Carolina is hitting their stride led by superstar fourth year senior Luke Maye. I said this to my wife last week when UNC defeated Duke last Wednesday, 88-72 at Cameron Indoor, that Maye was not the most talented player on the court by any means, but he was the BEST player on the court. So savvy, huge heart and great skills. LSU is playing well though I’m still trying to figure out how they defeated Tennessee at home last Saturday. Tennessee was the better team that day, but somehow the Bengal Tigers won the game. Tennessee is definitely a factor. I like Texas Tech having a shot. Nevada can maybe get there, but they look like an Elite Eight team to me, which is very good. Maybe not enough to get to Indy though.
And that leads me to this year’s Cinderella.
You might call them a Cinderella but the Terriers are 16-0 in a loaded Southern Conference this season that has potential tournament teams Furman, UNC Greensboro, and East Tennessee State. Wofford 24-4 overall, haven’t lost since December 19th, and are 6-0 against those 3 teams. My man Bama Golf, a Wofford alum, sent me an awesome article by CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, who compared Wofford to the 2007-2008 Elite Eight Davidson team with a player by the name of Steph Curry. I’d also include last year’s Final Four Loyola-Chicago team, which was an unreal story. As my wife calls’em “That Nun Team.” Looks like Wofford could be the Sister Jean story this season. They are the 3rd best 3 point shooting team in the country and that can win you several NCAA Tournament games if you’re hot from beyond the arc.
Winner at the Honda Classic
I’m going to go back to the well one more time and go with the 3rd time is a charm theory and pick the 25 year old who lost a heartbreaker 2 weeks ago at the Genesis to J.B. Holmes after having a 4 shot lead going into the final round, then shooting a 62 last Sunday to finish 9th at the WGC Mexico. I’m going to try this young gun one more time. He’s the defending champion at PGA National Resort and Spa, Champion Course. The Bear Trap, 15, 16 and 17 is one of the toughest stretches in golf, with 2 highly difficult par 3’s in 15 and 17 and a highly challenging par 4, 17th. A Jack Nicklaus design, and Jack put some serious teeth into this course and particularly that stretch of holes.
TV: Thursday-=Friday, Golf Channel, 1-5 PM CT; Saturday-Sunday, GC, 12-2 PM CT, NBC 2-5 PM CT.
Weather, looks good for the most part, Chances of rain tomorrow and Friday, nothing major though, Pretty sunny Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s winds are 6-12, the hardest it’s circulating this weekend and that could be problematic for the players on the water filled 15th and 17th holes.