Coastal Carolina (28-5) at Alabama (21-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 15th, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coleman Coliseum (15,316) -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Television: ESPNU. NIT Record: Coastal Carolina 0-1, Alabama 17-13. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Undoubtedly disappointed to have been shunned by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the Alabama Crimson Tide turn their attention to the NIT and tonight's first-round matchup with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
Next up for the winner of this tilt is a second-round clash with either fourth-seeded New Mexico or fifth-seeded Texas-El Paso.
Seeded eighth, Coastal Carolina hasn't played since March 5th when it suffered a disappointing 60-47 loss to UNC-Asheville in the Big South Conference Tournament title game. The Chanticleers are still an impressive 28-5 overall and became the first team in Big South history to win at least 25 games in back-to-back seasons. They played in the NIT for the first time last season and failed to win a game.
As for Alabama, it fell apart in the second half of a game against Georgia in the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament and eventually lost in overtime. Had the Tide won that game, they would likely be NCAA Tournament participants. Instead, they will take part in this NIT as a top seed. The program has made 10 previous NIT appearances and owns a 17-13 record in the event. The most recent appearance came in 2007, and 'Bama has reached the Final Four of this tournament five times.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Coastal Carolina and Alabama on the hardwood.
The Chanticleers get the job done at both ends of the court, as they are netting 77.4 ppg on 49 percent shooting while limiting opponents to 63.9 ppg on 39.3 percent field goal efficiency. Desmond Holloway paces three active double-digit scorers with 18.5 ppg on the strength of his 50.2 percent field goal efficiency, and he is pulling down 6.9 rpg as well. Chad Gray checks in with 14.7 ppg and 6.3 rpg, and he is connecting on 50 percent of his shots from the floor. Gray has also blocked 41 shots, good for second place on the roster behind Sam McLaurin (7.1 rpg). Anthony Raffa is another player worth mentioning for the Chants, as he is scoring 11.8 ppg.
Considering that the top three players on the Alabama roster are underclassmen, there is tremendous hope for the future. Fans of the Tide may be a bit worried that junior forward JaMychal Green will head to the NBA, and considering the fact that he is averaging 16.0 ppg and 7.8 rpg, he is certainly capable of doing so. Sophomore Tony Mitchell provides the club with a second standout player on the frontline, as he is close behind Green with 15.4 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Just a freshman, Trevor Releford brings 10.3 ppg and 108 assists to the mix, and he seems to get better with every game he plays. The Crimson Tide are scoring a modest 66.7 ppg, but it is their play at the defensive end that has been most impressive. Foes are managing a mere 59.2 ppg against 'Bama on 38.3 percent shooting from the field.
Coastal Carolina has reason to be proud, as it has captured back-to-back Big South Conference regular season titles for the first time since 1990-1991. Still, the season will end this evening, as Alabama will dominate the paint en route to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 79, Coastal Carolina 60
03/15 10:34:52 ET