Tide Plays Shockers In NIT Title Game

Before Tuesday's games in Madison Square Garden, conventional wisdom had it that the winner of the Alabama-Colorado game was pretty much a shoo-in for the National Invitation Tournament championship. That was before the games were played.

Alabama took care of step one in Madison Square Garden Tuesday night when the Crimson Tide used its stifling defense and Bama freshman point guard Trevor Releford's clutch basket to slip past Colorado, 62-61. That was the battle of remaining number one seeds.

Before that game was played, however, Wichita State sent word that the Shockers were a team to be reckoned with. Wichita State thrashed Washington State by 31 points in the earlier game Tuesday, a 75-41 decision.

Alabama will meet Wichita State, which came into the NIT as a fourth seed, at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central time) Thursday. ESPN2 will televise the game.

Alabama improved to 25-11 on the season. Wichita State is 28-8. The Tide and Shockers have met three times previously with Alabama holding a 2-1 advantage, a 74-71 overtime loss at Wichita in 1990-91, a 93-71 win in Tuscaloosa in 1992-93, and a 60-58 win in a tournament in Puerto Rico in 1997-98.

The Alabama team of Coach Anthony Grant has won 20 of its last 25 games.

The Shockers got to New York by defeating Nebraska (76-49), upsetting top bracket seed Virginia Tech (79-76 in overtime), and downing College of Charleston (82-75).

Alabama is in its 11th NIT, the first since 2007. Bama is now 21-13 all-time in the event. Bama's 11 appearances tie for most by a Southeastern Conference team, and the Tide's six final four appearances are the most by an SEC team.

Alabama is now tied for the most victories by an SEC team.

The Crimson Tide is advancing to the championship game for just the second time. In 2001 that did not end well. Tulsa defeated Alabama 79-60 for the crown.

Bama has also advanced to the Final Four in its first appearance in 1973 and in 1977, 1979, and 1996.

The Tide is now 8-8 in NIT games at Madison Square Garden. In addition to its 16 games at Madison Square Garden in NIT games, Alabama has played nine additional games at the famed arena and has a 5-4 record in those games – making Bama 13-12 overall in MSG.

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