Top 10 ranked Iowa, 3-0, plays Top 15 ranked Memphis, 3-0, in the first game of the doubleheader at 6:30 p.m. The winners in those two games play for the tournament's championship on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. The losers meet in a consolation game Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
"We're excited to win two games and advance," said Alabama head men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried. I know the players are fired up and ready to play. We have some veteran players and they're anxious to see how we fare.
"It's important for us to play teams like Missouri, but it's more important to win. We look forward to the challenge, but at the same time we want to do well. Our guys are hungry for a challenge, and I think it's a great test against a very talented team. Quin (Snyder) and his staff do a great job. Kareem Rush is one of the best players in the country, and they have size inside. It's a hard team to guard because of their offensive firepower."
Gottfried and Snyder go back to their playing days, Gottfried as a senior at Alabama and Snyder as a player for Duke. Alabama and Duke played one another early in the 1986-87 season in East Rutherford, N.J. Duke won 76-67. Gottfried, a starter then for Alabama, scored 14 points in the game including four 3-point shots. Snyder came off the bench for Duke and scored six points. The pair coached against one another once before when Gottfried was head coach at Murray State and Snyder was an assistant at Duke. The two teams met in the 1997 NCAA tournament Southeast Regional. The pair picked up their friendship in California while Snyder was with the Los Angeles Clippers and Gottfried was coaching at UCLA.
"He's somebody I've been pulling for," said Gottfried of Snyder. "He's bright, a good person. I always hoped he'd do well and he really has."
Gottfried says this is a good early test for his team and one in which his team could gain some national exposure by having a good showing. But he doesn't believe it will be a tournament trip for individual player gains.
"I think it's an opportunity for our team. Obviously individual players are going to get attention. That's the nature of the game. But one thing I've liked about our group is that none of them are after individual attention. They've done a good job with that."
Alabama will return from Kansas City to host Utah at home in Coleman Coliseum on Monday, November 26 at 6 p.m. That game is being televised on ESPN2. Gottfried's old Alabama teammate and roommate Jim Farmer, a first round NBA draft pick in 1987, will entertain at halftime of that game. He just debuted his first album of country music on November 16.