Basketball Bust: I'll try not to be redundant, but the state of basketball stinks in this state. Let me clarify, Alabama and Auburn stink. Oh, I've already written that column. Well, here's an update. They still stink.
At least there's some interest in high school hoops. Last week's state championships in Birmingham drew more than 60,000 paying customers. That's with all the snow.
That's also on the level with the Super 7 or Super 6 as it used to be called for the football championships. I know there's a lot more basketball games than those played on the gridrion, but that's a lot of folks buying tickets for prep games.
I still believe there is interest from the sports fans in this state in what's played on the hardwood - when it's good. There was enthusiasm at Auburn early this season. It has now waned.
Better days are ahead for the Tigers, yet you've got to notice the downhill slide that has occured with Coach Bruce Pearl's team of late.
I expected Auburn to improve. It'll have to wait until next season. This team has actually gotten worse down the stretch. Forget about the record. The Tigers have been crushed in four straight games.
It began with a double digit loss at home that most folks (Alabama fans included) expected to be an AU win. There was a 35-point loss at Kentucky. That might be unfair. It is Kentucky. LSU blitzed them by 23 in Auburn. Texas A&M won by 25 on Saturday.
Auburn has lost six straight in their home arena. That's a streak that hasn't been matched in more than 20 years. Coaching names during that span include Barbee and Lebo.
I do expect things to improve for Auburn. They have to, don't they? Still, what are expectations for a program that hasn't made an NCAA tournament since 2003, the longest dry spell in the conference.
As of now, the SEC is expected to get six teams into the "Big Dance." Auburn and Alabama certainly won't be among them. I know there's an automatic bid for the conference tourney champs.
Alabama went out in the first round the last time they made the NCAAs in 2012. Bama is a perennial NIT team. Anthony Grant's trip to the NCAA Tournament in '12 is the only one for the program since 2007.
Florida has been the most consistent team in this league since 2000. They have two national titles and made five tournaments in a row. They won't be dancing this season.
Kentucky is still working on a perfect season. They missed the tourney in 2013 but made trips each year since 2010. They won it all in 2012.
Here's a breakdown of most recent NCAA bids for SEC schools:
- Alabama (2012)
- Arkansas (2008)
- Auburn (2003)
- Florida (2014)
- Georgia (2011)
- Kentucky (2014)
- LSU (2009)
- Ole Miss (2013)
- Miss. State (2009)
- Missouri (2013)
- S. Carolina (2004)
- Tennessee (2014)
- Texas A&M (2011)
- Vanderbilt (2012)