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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

A compliment to Nate Oats, another challenge for Nick Saban

If this keeps up, Nate Oats is going to make history. He's going to be the first Alabama basketball coach to beat Nick Saban.

It could happen as early as Monday if the AP basketball poll voters are paying attention. Oats' team, after earning its second victory of the young season against a No. 1 opponent, this time with a strong road comeback at Houston, could be and probably should be ranked higher than Saban's team.

Tide football is No. 5 and will stay there until the final poll after the bowls and the playoff. Tide hoops is No. 8 but should get strong consideration for a top-five position after becoming the first team since 1965-66 Duke to topple a second top-ranked foe before New Year's Day.

If that Bama bounce doesn't happen in the next poll, a 2-0 week against Memphis in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday and Gonzaga in Birmingham next Saturday should rocket roundball into the top four.

Alabama basketball occupying a higher position than Alabama football in their respective AP polls at the same time hasn't happened since Saban touched down in Tuscaloosa. Not a single time. Not for a single week. Not even while Saban was establishing a foundation in 2007, underachieving with the uber-talented 2010 team or missing the playoff for the first time in 2019.

Let's take this comparison one Euro step farther. In the Saban era, in the same academic year, Alabama football's lowest AP ranking has been higher than Alabama basketball's highest ranking every single year - until this year.

Read more of Kevin's deep dive on the rise of Alabama basketball alongside the subtle decline of Alabama football. Only in The Lede.

Nate Oats exhorts his Alabama basketball team en route to a big win at No. 1 Houston on Dec. 11, 2022.



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