Alabama basketball: Crimson Tide ties to watch in March Madness

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap. Today, we look at Alabama alumni in the NCAA Tournament, free agent signings and a doubleheader sweep for softball.

Yet again, Alabama fans are left without an active rooting interest in the NCAA Tournament, outside of any brackets compiled solely for recreational purposes and not at all for monetary incentive except in the state of Las Vegas. But if brackets aren’t your thing, there are a few more Alabama ties that bind in the tournament.

If you needed more of an incentive to root against Kentucky, former Alabama assistant and interim head coach John Brannen is at the helm of Northern Kentucky, who will take on Kentucky at around 8:40 CT on Friday on big CBS. It’s a 2-15 matchup, and a long shot for Brannen’s squad, but the Norse are a jump-shooting team and could keep it close if they stay hot.

For even more of a long shot, former Alabama player and UAB coach Mike Davis will be leading Texas Southern against No. 1 seed North Carolina at 3 p.m. CT on Friday. No 16 seed has ever won in the tournament proper.

For a potential winner, there’s Steve Prohm, an Alabama alumnus and former team manager who is the head coach at Iowa State. The Cyclones are a No. 5 seed and will take on Nevada on Thursday at 8:57 p.m. CT on TruTV.

As for Alabama itself, it’s time to leave the NIT behind and join the tournament proper, writes Kevin Scarbinsky. The Crimson Tide will get the chance to hit the ground running after two of Alabama’s signees take the court together in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game this week.

ICYMI

Built by Bama

The Georgia State Legislature commended Julio Jones and Marcell Dareus, going so far as to declare a ‘Marcell Dareus Day.’ An interesting tidbit in the resolution: Julio is an investor in a $200 million mixed-use development next to the already-gigantic Mall of Georgia.

Elsewhere, Dont’a Hightower got paaaaaid.

Hightower is now the second-best-paid linebacker in the league, and his mother is thrilled.

I'm one proud momma ? #boomtower @_boomtower

A post shared by ltanya Hightower (@ltanyahightower) on

Around the Capstone

Softball extended its winning streak to 19 straight, improving to 26-2 and not allowing a run as it swept a doubleheader at home on Wednesday. Sydney Littlejohn dealt 14 strikeouts en route to a 1-0 victory against Winthrop before the bats came alive as Alexis Osorio and Madi Moore combined to no-hit Georgia Southern in a 9-0 run-rule victory.

Baseball stumbled ahead of its SEC opener this weekend, falling 10-3 to Samford on Wednesday. New coach Greg Goff appears to be feeling out his roster, tossing two freshman pitchers into the gauntlet of the ninth inning of a tight game that quickly became a very loose game when they were shelled. Goff turned to a junior to finish the game and seemed more than slightly displeased with his team’s approach to the game, particularly at the plate.

For more postseason basketball at Coleman Coliseum, Alabama hosts Mercer in the women’s NIT at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be streamed at RollTide.com.

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