But while their NCAA dreams aren't dead yet (most projections still have them in), they may be mostly dead and in need of a miracle. Injuries have reduced this team to a shell of what we saw in January. Marcus Thornton missed time with a concussion and hasn't been the same since. JJ Frazier has emerged this season from bench weapon to indispensable starter, yet was forced out of last game because of a concussion and multiple other injuries. The SF position has been a revolving door as Kenny Paul Geno returned last game from a broken wrist to snag 6 rebounds, and Juwan Parker should still be out due to an achilles injury.
So health will determine who starts for the Dawgs today. Juniors Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines will be in the backcourt. Seniors Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic comprise the front court. The question is whether Frazier can return at PG, or if Mann stays there and junior Cameron Forte starts again at SF. Geno, Yante Maten, Taylor Echols will be the primary pieces off the bench.
Alabama comes in fresh off a big mid week win at Auburn. Anthony Grant's squad has once again muddled through the SEC after a solid non conference record with the NIT likely the best they can do post season wise. But that doesn't mean they lack quality. Senior G Levi Randolph can get it done all over the court, as he leads the Tide in scoring, assists, and steals, and is second in rebounding. Belgian PG Retin Obasohan has replaced Ricky Tarrant in the starting lineup of late, and SF Rodney Cooper adds another scoring threat from the wing. Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale start inside, but Swiss born junior Michael Kessens comes off the bench and is the team's leading rebounder.
Alabama under Grant has tended to play hard man to man defense, with a lot of isolation on offense for a grind it out, physical kind of game. Tip off is set for just after 8 p.m. And for those of you who can't be in Coleman Coliseum, ESPN2 will bring you live coverage of the game. This will also be your live comment thread for the game, so if you haven't already, sign up for an SB Nation account and join the discussion with us.