Monday, March 28, 2011

Tide rolls into Madison Square Garden and the Big Apple

Tuesday night's NIT Semi-Finals get under way with Washington State and Wichita State meeting in the opener followed by Alabama vs Colorado. I'm not going to pretend to know a whole lot about these possible opponents for the Tide other then a few glimpses of action I watched during the post season.

I did watch the majority of the Wichita State-Nebraska game the other week and was thoroughly impressed with the play of the Shockers. They effectively locked down the Huskers, mandhandled them on the defensive end of the floor and much like Alabama, really seemed to feed off the home crowd. It was one of the better defensive performances I watched all year.

As for Washington State, have not really seen them play other then a few seconds vs Northwestern. Colorado does have strong guard play and should present problems for Alabama. I expect a very close game and if Alabama stays out of foul trouble, they will have a good chance to win. The Buffs did lose to UGA in Athens, but that was the first game of the year. Expect CU Alum Chauncey Billups to be there in attendance to watch the Buffs.

Another unique perspective of this NIT Final 4 is that no one will have a decided home court advantage. This isn't like a Big East team or a Penn State making a short drive like they did a few years ago to take over the Garden. If anything, I expect Alabama to have a fairly good presence of fans in NYC as its not often that UA Basketball makes a trip up north.

As far as Alabama is concerned, it will be interesting to see how they play on a nuetral floor as they are 1-5 in such circumstances. Alabama has been 2-2 in its last 4 trips to MSG, beating Detroit in the 2001 semi finals before falling to Tulsa in the championship, beating Oklahoma to start the 2002-03 season, losing to Pittsburgh in 2003-04 opener.

This is a huge stage for Alabama, as it is a chance to play for a basketball championship, granted its not the biggest stage, but it is an opportunity that presents itself. Recruits will be watching and its the only college game on tv Tuesday and Thursday. I'm sure Alabama will be all business on this trip and have a great chance to win this entire tournament, which hopefully will be a springboard to bigger and better things next year, much like UNC, UConn and St. John's did after last year's NIT.

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