The Alabama men’s basketball team took care of Northeastern in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament on Tuesday. The Crimson Tide defeated the Huskies 62-43.
No. 1 seed Alabama (21-12, 12-6 SEC) will now advance to the second round of the NIT and play host to No. 4 Stanford (18-14, 9-9 Pac-12) at Coleman Coliseum Saturday. Although this is an intriguing matchup on the hardwood, I can’t help but salivate at the thought of these two teams meeting on the gridiron.
Obviously, the Tide finished the 2012 football season as national champions. Alabama destroyed No. 1 Notre Dame 42-14 in Miami, Fla., to claim the University’s 15th championship. But if the future playoff system was in place for the 2012 season, could the Tide and Cardinal have faced off in the championship contest?
Alabama (13-1, 7-1 SEC) was the clear-cut favorite for the No. 2 slot in the championship game, and many would argue that Oregon would have filled the No. 3 slot. But the rest of the field was wide open.
Stanford (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12) had a strong claim for deserving a shot at a national title, but others would argue that a second Southeastern Conference team was more deserving, especially with the body of work that Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M boasted during the season.
Nevertheless, a meeting between the Tide and Cardinal would be fun to watch.
Stanford is the one team outside the Southeast that plays the SEC’s style of football. It’s known for its running game and hard-nosed defense, and it has established itself as one of the elite college football programs in the country.
In fact, Alabama fans owe a lot to the Cardinal. It was Stanford that defeated Oregon last season to allow the Tide to slip back into the driver’s seat for a championship game bid. But if the two teams met in Tuscaloosa, Palo Alto or a neutral site, Nick Saban and company would not be quick to thank the Cardinal for its blessing in disguise.
If they did meet, I think it would be a close game early, or at least until the beginning of the second half. Stanford has a disciplined defense that knows how to stop the run. Last season, the Cardinal allowed its opponents to score an average of 17.2 points per game, which was the 11th best total in the nation. Alabama was first by only giving up 10.9 points per game.
I’m not saying that this contest would be a monumental defensive slug-fest like the Tide is used to seeing from LSU, but it has got to be more exciting than Alabama’s other nonconference games against Michigan and Notre Dame.