Some say that head basketball coaches at football schools tend to get a pass when it comes to underperforming, and in the case of the Alabama Crimson Tide, that’s true. In his last few seasons with the Crimson Tide, Anthony Grant’s teams have done nothing but underperform.
In the 2014-15 college basketball season, Alabama must produce or Grant could find himself looking for a new job.
The good news for Grant and Alabama, however, is that the rest of the SEC has taken a step back. The Crimson Tide lose a leader in Trevor Releford, but return key players like Rodney Cooper, Levi Randolph and Retin Obasohan (Obasohan has undergone successful ankle surgery, but no timetable for return was released). Alabama boasts several other talented players like Shannon Hale and Tulane transfer Ricky Tarrant, who will make the Crimson Tide one of the deepest rosters in the country.
On top of the talented roster, Alabama plays four non-conference teams that could give them a huge boost en route to the 2015 NCAA tournament. The UCLA Bruins, Wichita State Shockers, Iowa State Cyclones and Xavier Musketeers are all teams who should easily make the 2015 NCAA tournament, so winning two or three of these games means a heightened chance of going to the tournament themselves.
The Crimson Tide also play Southern Mississippi, Towson, Western Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee Tech, Appalachian State and North Florida, all of which should be easy wins that fluff up their resume a little more. Their conference schedule will be extremely easy, as well, with only one difficult game at home against Kentucky, and only one game against Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and Ole Miss.
This is a key year for Crimson Tide basketball. Predicted to finish 10th in the SEC by the media poll, a top-five finish could save Grant’s job and give Bama an advantage recruiting. Overall, I expect Alabama to finish with around 17 wins and make a strong case for a trip to the NIT.