Some were surprised when I ranked UAB as the top team in the state again back in November, but they have lived up to it as the only Alabama team still playing. I was with the UTEP guys at their tournament game this weekend, and talked to them about how they pulled out the 2-point win in El Paso against UAB March 6 that probably cost the Blazers an NCAA bid. (OK, I was actually there to see my Marquette lose a two-point heartbreaker to Pac10 champ Washington, but we shared a hotel with UTEP).
However, UAB has made the most of their NIT bid, as Elijah Millsap had 27 points and 15 rebounds to dominate NC State, 72-52, for their second straight blowout win. Now they get another ACC power in UNC. The Tar Heels had enough talent to win a national title but struggled with youthful mistakes and poor defense until rolling through the first two rounds of the NIT including going into Mississippi State for the win.
The season did finally end for the University of Montevallo (25-8) which ended its quest to win another National Division II title to the state (North Alabama won two) with a 79-71 loss in the Sweet Sixteen to Augusta State University (29-3).
Great season Falcons, and see post below for how I ranked the Top 40 teams in the state.
Bama gets 4-star, rumors about Tubby Smith going to Auburn
For 2011, the two big catches for the state go to the University of Alabama with 4-star guard Trevor Releford coming in from Kansas, and 6-5 Charles Hankerson coming in from Miami to put use his wide body underneath to get position and whip passes around. I know it’s not like Auburn and Alabama football, but there are only 25 five stars in the country in basketball, so landing one of the 75 4-stars at www.rivals.com is huge.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune is quoting Tubby Smith as saying the rumors about him coming to Auburn are, “just talk,” but without an outright denial we can hope the new arena might be enticing, and that someone like 5-star guard Cory Joseph of Nevada might follow him to the Plains.
Directions to the UNC at UAB game are at: