There are only two home games remaining on the Alabama men’s basketball team’s schedule as March Madness quickly approaches. The Crimson Tide (17-8, 9-3 SEC) will face Auburn on Feb. 26 and Georgia on March 9 to close out the regular season.
In terms of its Southeastern Conference record, the Tide possesses an impressive record at home. But home court advantage is something that is foreign to head coach Anthony Grant and company.
The team has only experienced an electric crowd in Coleman Coliseum one time this season: when Kentucky came to Tuscaloosa. But every arena sells out when the Wildcats come to town.
Many could say the slump in attendance is due to a dumpy home schedule and arguably so. The Tide played intriguing matchups with Villanova, Cincinnati, Virginia-Commonwealth and Missouri away from home. It is slated to play Florida in Gainesville, Fla., at the beginning of March.
But countless poor showings from fans is unacceptable, especially from students. Tickets are free for students, and it’s almost always a televised event. There’s always something entertaining going on during timeouts, and the halftime show could be anything from dogs catching Frisbees to a lady riding a giant unicycle and balancing bowls on her head. Along with the side acts and performances, there’s quality basketball being played on the hardwood.
Some of the country’s best players have been on display in the coliseum this season. Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters and Texas A&M’s Elston Turner are just a few of them. But regardless of who’s on the court, Alabama has made things interesting for fans to stay enthralled.
It seems like every game has come down to the wire, and the players look for a boost from the crowd to rattle the opposing team. With the smallish crowds it has had this season, the Tide has fed off its energy – no matter how weak.
Against Kentucky, the Tide and the Wildcats traded punches throughout the game until the final buzzer. Every time Alabama hit a crucial shot, Coleman erupted and remained loud while the Tide got back on defense. It’s not quite as loud, but it serves the same purpose as ACDC’s “Hell’s Bells” in Bryant-Denny Stadium on third down. There needs to be more of that.
These players deserve a sold-out crowd just like the gymnasts, now more than ever. Alabama’s NCAA tournament chances are hanging in the balance, and it can’t afford to lose another game, especially at home.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi said the Tide is listed as one of the next four teams out of the tournament, with BYU, Southern Mississippi and St. John’s. The first four out are Kentucky, Indiana State, Maryland and Temple. Villanova, who Alabama defeated in the 2K Sports Classic, is regarded as one of the last four teams to make the dance.
Five total games remain for the Tide, as well as the SEC tournament. With Florida’s loss to Missouri on Feb. 19, Alabama controls its own destiny to finish as regular season conference champions and claim the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament. All it has to do is win all of its five remaining games.
Two of these crucial games will be at Coleman Coliseum and so should you.