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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

How the ball bounces: Alabama up, Auburn down but not out

Alabama is playing basketball today. Auburn is not. Both teams will hear their names called during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show later this afternoon, the Tide on the top line of the bracket, the Tigers in the lower half.


It's never a bad day when they call your name on Selection Sunday. It's just never as good as it could be when your rival gets top billing. As always when the subject is Tide v. Tigers, there are two sides to the story.


Win or lose in what promises to be a high-level SEC Tournament championship game against regular-season runner-up Texas A&M, Alabama will be named a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Auburn got there first in 1999 under Cliff Ellis.


A 1 seed is what happens when you match the school record for victories with 28, tying the 1987 Tide team, against only five losses. Alabama did that Saturday by beating Missouri in the SEC semifinals. The Tide seized control in the second half as Brandon Miller yet again proved to be the best player in the league.


The Wooden Award must have seen those 20 points and 12 rebounds coming. After leaving Miller off its list of 15 finalists a week ago, the award's website Saturday morning included last week's press release rewritten with the names of 16 finalists, Miller included. Like last week, when the Wooden Award became the only national player of the year honor to exclude the deserving Miller from its list of finalists, there was no explanation provided.


So Saturday, like so many days during this championship season, was another good day for Alabama basketball.


The Tide won't have the entire in-state Big Dance spotlight to itself today. By all indications from reliable bracketologists, Auburn will receive an at-large berth and be given a seed in the 9-10 range. That's what happens when you lose nine of your last 13 games to slide from 16-3 and No. 15 in the AP poll to 20-12 and unranked.


Whatever the actual seed number, it will be the lowest for the Tigers in their fourth trip to the tournament under Bruce Pearl. They were a No. 4 seed in 2018 when they lost in the second round. They were a No. 5 seed in 2019 when they ran through bluebloods Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. ...


Read the rest of Kevin's column on the Tide-Tiger teeter-totter. Only in The Lede.


Commissioner Greg Sankey congratulates Alabama's Brandon Miller for earning the SEC Tournament MVP award.


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