James Jones column: Alabama shoots its way to Final Four

Published 11:29 am Thursday, April 4, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Alabama provides a perfect example of why the NCAA Basketball Tournament is called “March Madness.”

The Crimson Tide (25-11) is headed to the Final Four after its 89-82 victory over Clemson in the Elite Eight. 

I will discuss the Crimson Tide’s national semifinal contest against UConn at another time, but it is time for confessions. The Huskies, by the way, are impressive and look tough to beat.

Email newsletter signup

Alabama’s run to the Final Four was something I didn’t see coming. I thought I would be at the great newspaper in the sky before the Crimson Tide challenged for a national title in basketball.

Doubts crept inside my head when Alabama was ranked number one at the start of last year’s tournament. We all remembered what happened: San Diego State knocked off Alabama in the Sweet 16 en route to a spot in the national title game.

I had Alabama in the Sweet 16 on my bracket, losing to North Carolina. I picked the Tarheels to win it all over UConn. If I had the chance to go back in time and pick again, I would stay with UNC. Nothing suggested that the Crimson Tide would beat UNC.

For me, Alabama reaching the Sweet 16 would have made the season successful. The Crimson Tide had to replace an NBA Draft Lottery pick and a player who thought he was a first-round selection.

As it turns out, Alabama did not need either player to reach the national semifinals. That is what makes the NCAA Tournament so special: we always see a handful of upsets, 

One of the things I have enjoyed is seeing the commentators be equally wrong about predictions. Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats called out TNT’s Charles Barkley for saying the Crimson Tide is frail. 

Unless it’s Chris Stewart of Alabama or Auburn’s Andy Burcham, I usually avoid the national pre-game shows. A lot of the so-called experts play favorites and get mad when their teams do not win.

Congratulations to Alabama for earning a historic berth in the Final Four. A great lesson was learned by me: always stick with your team regardless how big an underdog they are. You just never know what might happen. 

Case in point: Alabama’s run to the Final Four. 


James Jones is the managing editor of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at james.jones@selmatimesjournal.com.