Nate Oats gives bracketology a new meaning

Nate Oats has done many things for him Alabama basketball. Not immediately, but quickly, he rejuvenated the Crimson Tide roundball program. There was no March Madness in 2020, and even if there had been an NCAA tournament, the COVID-hit season, the Crimson Tide, would not have been selected at 16-15. But since then, Oats has zoomed the tide up.

Everything changed for Tide Hoops in the 2020-21 season. When Oats arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2019, he started talking about Alabama basketball and the Final Fours. Crimson Tide fans loved its boldness, but quite a few of us were skeptical.

At this point, Alabama basketball was in 21 NCAA tournaments. The Tide had made it to eight Sweet Sixteens and an Elite Eight, but The Tide had also lost more Big Dance games than it had won.

In the 2001-2002 season, Mark Gottfried had the Tide in the Big Dance as a 2-seed. Alabama lost to Kent State by 13 points in the second round. In the following 17 seasons, Alabama reached the NCAA tournament only six times. Of the six Big Dance opportunities, the Crimson Tide was a 10 seed; 6 seeds; 5 seeds; 10 seeds; 9 seeds and a 9 seed. With few exceptions, every February and early March has been life in an NCAA bubble zone for the Crimson Tide.

Past Alabama Basketball NCAA Tournament Frustration

Thanks to Nate Oats, those frustrating days are lost in a Crimson Tide rearview mirror. Not only is the Crimson Tide no longer a bubble team this season, it’s also widely discussed as a 1-seed. Both Jerry Palm and Joe Lunardi currently have Alabama as their 1-seed. Other sources have the tide as a 100% cutoff for the big dance and it’s only mid-January.

Alabama has made it three times as high as a 2-seed in its NCAA tournament history. In most NCAA tournament seasons for the Tide, the seeding ranged from six to ten.

There are still many games to play and none of them have a guaranteed win. But for the first time in such a long time that it almost feels like always, Alabama is playing basketball for seeding.

An SEC Regular Season Championship and/or an SEC Tournament Championship are lofty goals. But Alabama is playing for more – much more. As Brandon Miller recently said:

Our mission is to win a national championship. I try not to focus too much on all these other things.

“All that other stuff” Miller was talking about was the lavish praise he deserves as his performance deserves a mention as a possible international of the year.

Keep talking about Final Fours Nate Oats. This Alabama basketball team is special and should have bold ambitions.