The big new of the announcement that Alabama will play in the National Invitation Tournament did not includethe answer to the big question: Who will coach the Crimson Tide when Bama plays Illinois in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night.
As the basketball world now knows, Bama Athletics Director Bill Battle (also a former coach, but, unfortunately, a former football coach) fired Anthony Grant Sunday afternoon, a few hours before the NIT announcement. Presumably, it will not be Grant.
The most logical choice would be one of the current assistants, and the most likely of those is Associate Head Coach John Brannen. Other assistants are Antoine Pettway, who has never been a head coach, and Reggie Witherspoon, who came to Alabama this year after having been head coach at Buffalo.
Alabama is a No. 6 seed and will host No. 3 seed Illinoi at 8 p.m. CDT Tuesday in Coleman Coliseum. ESPN will televise the game. Illinois would ordinarily be the host team by virtue of its higher seed, but there was a facilities conflict. There are eight seeds in each of four Quadrants in the NIT format. Alabama is in the Richmond Quadrant.
Alabama earned the No. 6 seed in this year's event by virtue of an 18-14 (8-10 SEC) overall record, while Illinois finished the year with a 19-13 record and a 9-9 mark in the Big Ten Conference.
The winner of Tuesday night's game will advance to the round of 16 against the winner of No. 2-seeded Miami and No. 7 seed North Carolina Central at a time and date to be determined.
The NIT berth is the 13th in UA history with the program holding a 23-15 record in the event. Alabama last appeared in the NIT in 2013, earning a No. 1 seed and reaching the NIT quarterfinals.
Alabama is one of eight SEC teams to earn a berth in either the NCAA Tournament or NIT. Joining the Crimson Tide in the NIT is Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, while Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Ole Miss each earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.