Will March Be Time For Mad Or Madness?
True, any Alabama fan would have been thrilled to have known on January 1 that the Crimson Tide, a basketball train wreck with a 7-6 record -- none of the wins worth mentioning --, would have an opportunity to win the Southeastern Conference championship in the final week of the regular season.
That was then, this is now.
After getting out to a 10-2 record with four SEC games to play, Bama looked to be in good shape for the league title. Florida, the other team in contention for the crown, had to go to Kentucky and Vanderbilt and host Georgia and Alabama in its last four games. The Tide was host to Auburn and Georgia and on the road at Florida and Ole Miss.
Suddenly, with the most on the line, Alabama has gone backwards. Bama was lucky to beat Auburn, the worst team in the SEC (and among the worst in the nation). The Tide may not have gotten a fair shake in officiating at Ole Miss Saturday, but Alabama could have done some things offensively and defensively to have taken that familiar aspect of SEC basketball out of the equation.
This wasn't a situation like at Vanderbilt where horrendous officiating so late in the game made Bama victory impossible. The Tide had plenty of chances to have the win assured against Mississippi before the final minutes.
The opportunity to get in very good shape in the SEC race was there when Alabama had an 11-point second half lead in Oxford. Instead, Alabama was careless with the ball, fouled too much, and didn't win enough battles for 50-50 balls on rebounds and loose balls.
No one has suggested that Alabama didn't foul. The issue of officiating was, as is often the case, that the game was not called the same way at both ends of the court.
Although a great opportunity was lost with the 68-63 setback in Oxford, the situation is not hopeless. Alabama has had its back to the wall at other times this year. Sometimes Bama has responded.
There are two opportunities left. Win both games and the championship comes to Tuscaloosa. It's not an easy task. In deference to coaches everywhere, the Tide must play them one at a time, beginning Tuesday night in Gainesville against Florida.
Although since before the start of the season (before things like Arkansas over Vandy in Nashville and Alabama and Mississippi State over Tennessee in Knoxville), the SEC Eastern Division has been proclaimed superior to the West. Alabama is 3-1 against the East (including a win over Kentucky) and would probably be 4-0 without the intrusion of officiating in Nashville.
Now there are two Bama games left against Eastern teams, Florida and then the final game on Saturday hosting Georgia.
It would be nice to start March with some tournament level Alabama basketball.
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