Dear Basketball. Dear Alabama and Auburn Basketball. Dear City of Birmingham and State of Alabama Basketball.
Thank you. All of you. You went for it, and we got it, the NCAA Tournament, the best event in sports, for the first time in 15 long years. You pulled together, and you brought it, the heart and passion, the effort and energy you always bring to big-time events.
You worked it, we lived it and you won. All of you and all of us.
We won when you rebuilt Legacy Arena. We won when you bid on and landed this event. We won when the NCAA selection committee - with three members from this state in Alabama AD Greg Byrne, Samford AD Martin Newton and SWAC Commissioner Charles McClelland - gifted us a bracket with Alabama and Auburn in it.
We won again two times Thursday when Alabama handled Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Auburn shocked Iowa in the first round. Tide and Tigers living together during March Madness was the kind of mutually beneficial mass hysteria we needed this season after too many people in this state and beyond lost their ever-loving minds.
Saturday was icing. Saturday was confirmation. Saturday was as big a day as we've seen in this sport inside these state lines, and what happened between the baselines will resonate for a long time to come.
We saw the two best teams in college basketball in Alabama and Houston, the only No. 1 seeds to survive the first weekend. Both were forced to rise to meet a different challenge, and rise they did right before our eyes. ...
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