Alabama is in the NIT for the third consecutive year and the Crimson Tide will host Richmond in a first round game in Coleman Coliseum at 8:15 p.m. CDT Tuesday. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Alabama is 19-14 overall and was 10-8 in regular season Southeastern Conference play before going 2-1 in the SEC Tournament, beating Mississippi State and South Carolina before losing a 5-point game to SEC Champion Kentucky. Bama is the third seed.
Richmond is 20-12 and the sixth seed.
Alabama and Richmond have played only three times with the Tide winning all three. Bama and the Spiders have not met since the 1988-89 season.
Alabama is in what is known as the Iowa Quadrant because Iowa is the number one seed in the eight-team bracket for the first three rounds of the 32-team NIT. If the bracket goes as seeded, Alabama’s second game would be at Clemson. Alabama and Clemson met in Birmingham in December with the Tigers taking a 67-54 win.
Alabama Coach Avery Johnson said he is aware of teams that might not want to play in the post-season, but said his players were looking forward to the NIT competition. He also said it is fortunate that the coaching staff does not require a lot of sleep because of the quick turnaround from the SEC Tournament – the team returned to Tuscaloosa Sunday afternoon – and the first round of the NIT.
“We want to play on as high a level as we can and send our seniors out on a high note,” Johnson said. “We’re excited.”
The Tide coach said that he hoped that success in the NIT would carry over to next year, and also pointed out that Alabama would play a foreign tour in August that he expected to help with the 2017-18 season.
The Iowa Quadrant games have No. 1 Iowa hosting No. 8 South Dakota and No. 4 TCU hosting No. 5 Fresno State on Wednesday, and Alabama hosting Richmond and No. 2 Clemson hosting No. 7 Oakland on Tuesday.
The first three rounds of the NIT are played on campus sites with the four survivors going to New York for semifinals and finals in famed Madison Square Garden on March 28 and March 30.
First round games are played Tuesday and Wednesday and second round games Thursday and Monday, March 20. Quarterfinals, still on campus sites, are Tuesday, March 21, and Wednesday, March 22.
Other SEC teams making the NIT field are Ole Miss and Georgia.
One interesting aspect of the NIT is the experimental rule of playing in 10-minute quarters rather than 20-minute halves and team fouls reset to 0 at the beginning of each quarter. After four fouls (personal and/or technical), it is a two-shot penalty. There is no one-and-one. Another rules experimentation is the shot clock being reset to 20 seconds instead of 30 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the front court.
Last year Alabama had to go to Omaha to play Creighton in the first round of the NIT and the Crimson Tide was beaten, 72-54. Bama also made the field in 2015, defeating Illinois in Tuscaloosa, then losing at Miami.
The Tide first made the NIT in 1973 when the tournament was more highly regarded. At that time only conference champions could make the NCAA Tournament field and the NIT – with all its games in Madison Square Garden – was a major attraction.
Alabama has played in 14 NITs and has made it to the championship game twice, but lost both times – to Tulsa in 2001 and to Wichita State in 2011.
Alabama has made the most appearances of any SEC team in the NIT and has the most victories by an SEC school at 24. Bama’s all-time NIT record is 24-17.