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Tide on Top

Alabama is more than just a football school. The university’s men’s basketball team’s recent climb to the top has proven that for sure. While the view from the top spot was short lived, after falling to Tennessee on Wednesday, the Tide continues to have a promising season.

For the first time in twenty years, the Alabama men’s basketball team finally claimed the top spot in the AP poll. After a hard-fought win against Auburn last weekend, the Tide looked to be the best team in the country. However, the curse of No. 1 teams falling soon after claiming the spot continued with the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.

How did Alabama become a “basketball school” this season? It seems almost unprecedented to discuss anything that isn’t football in Tuscaloosa, AL, but here we are and rightfully so. Two words can be used to sum up Alabama’s sudden climb: Brandon Miller. The projected lottery pick and former McDonald’s All-American has not disappointed in his (very likely) lone college hoops season. While Miller is undoubtedly the team’s brightest star, he is not the only one.

Alongside Miller, freshman point guard Rylan Griffen has emerged as a solid player, most recently being the team’s top scorer against Auburn. Additionally, fellow freshman Noah Clowney, who, at 6’10”, is a threat from all angles. There is a lot to be said about how deep this team is, with veteran point guards like Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly being able to facilitate, handle the ball, and hit from three, much like many of their teammates. It seems as if this Alabama team has all the makings of a National Championship team, but they are still a relatively young team, showing their youth at times such as the games against Oklahoma and Tennessee).

While their time at the very top was brief, Alabama will still be at least a top five team, with Tennessee being their only SEC loss. There is plenty of time for the team to reclaim the top spot, but that is not a priority for Nate Oats’ team. Playing “winning basketball” is not about being the number one team according to the AP Poll (even if it is pretty cool). Playing winning basketball has everything to do with fundamentals and having your whole team buy into the process, which is ultimately what matters in March.

There is much to look forward to for the Alabama Crimson Tide as they finish out the regular season with hopes of claiming an SEC Championship and being a one seed in March. With five games left in conference play, the team is obviously hoping to win out, but more than that, the Tide is hoping to clean up mistakes such as turnovers and soft defense, which have both been huge issues in their few losses. Having a team this deep means that anyone can have “that kind of night,” which will be helpful if the team is to make a deep run during March Madness.

Seeing this team beat multiple number one teams and ultimately becoming the best team in the country has been one wild ride, and it is far from over. Of course, the entire country knows the name Brandon Miller at this point in the season, but it will be interesting to see who else steps up in the coming weeks because depth is what can take this team back to the top.

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