The Alabama Crimson Tide are mostly known for their football program, but their basketball entity has been making a lot of noise during the shortened 2020-21 season. Slowly but surely, the Crimson Tide have emerged as a team to watch ahead of the NCAA Tournament and might be a popular sleeper pick to go all the way — or at least reach the Final Four, something they haven’t done in the entire history of the program.
The Crimson Tide’s best finish in an NCAA Tournament came in 2004, when they reached the Elite Eight before being eliminated by Connecticut. This year, things might be different for Alabama. Entering Tuesday’s action, they sit at the top of the SEC standings with a 14-2 Conference record and a 19-6 record overall. Being priced at +2000, according to Vegas Insider, means Alabama is a public betting favorite and has a pretty decent chance at making a deep tournament run.
Alabama doesn’t really sit near the top of many categories when it comes to their execution as a team, but they’ve been thriving in two key areas of the game — scoring and rebounding, which as key fundamentals to annul the opposition. The Crimson Tide sits 35th in the nation in scoring with 79.6 points per game, and they’re also a Top 25 team in the rebounding department. They are pulling down an average of 40.4 boards per game, good for 22nd nationwide.
But what’s good collective execution without a few top players leading the way? The name of Jaden Shackelford leads the way since he’s pacing the team offensively with 14.1 points per contest, but the play of Herbert Jones has been even more decisive — he paces Alabama in assists (3.0), rebounds (6.0), steals (1.7) and blocks (1.0) per game. As if that wasn’t enough, Jones is also scoring 11.0 points per tilt.
Alabama’s recent form has been a bit inconsistent, as they have gone 4-3 over their last seven contests, but they recorded 10 wins in a row between Dec. 22 and Jan. 26, including victories against storied programs such as Kentucky, LSU, Florida and Tennessee. Their win against the Vols might have been the biggest one of the bunch, as they were ranked 7th in the nation by the time Alabama cruised to a 71-63 victory against them on Jan. 2.
The Crimson Tied might not be an SEC-powerhouse when talking about basketball, but they have certainly looked like one in recent weeks. Whether it’s a one-year thing or a sign of progress that will extend into the future remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. Alabama are more than ready to make some serious noise in the NCAA Tournament and should undoubtedly be a team to watch once the tournament starts.
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