TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (Alabama Athletics) - The University of Alabama men’s basketball team earned a No. 1 seed in the 2019 National Invitation Tournament and will host the No. 8 seed Norfolk State in Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday, March 20, in the opening round of the event. The Tide and the Spartans will tip off at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
This marks the third time that UA will be the No. 1 seed in the NIT since the seeding system began in 2007. The Crimson Tide, who earned a top seed by virtue of being one of the first four teams left out of this year’s NCAA Tournament, owns a record of 6-2 as a top seed in the NIT, reaching the championship game in 2011 before falling to Wichita State and in 2013 when Alabama fell at home to Maryland in the quarterfinals.
The Crimson Tide earned one of 22 at-large spots in the 32-team field by virtue of its 18-15 overall record during the regular season, which included a fourth consecutive appearance in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. Alabama also defeated three Associated Press top-25 teams (3-2 vs. AP Top 25) and owned 10 combined Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 victories on the year. UA finished the year with a No. 59 overall ranking in the NET and a No. 15 strength of schedule.
The Tide’s first-round opponent, Norfolk State, finished the season with a 21-13 overall record and a 14-2 mark in MEAC play. The Spartans claimed the program’s second-ever MEAC regular season championship and had a record four players named as second team all-conference, while head coach Robert Jones was named the league's Coach of the Year.
Norfolk State and Alabama have met just once, which came back Johnson’s first year of the helm on Jan. 2, 2016. The Crimson Tide captured a 68-49 victory in that contest.
Alabama, which will make its sixth NIT appearance in the last nine years, will be playing in its 16th NIT in school history, which leads SEC schools. Tennessee, which made its last NIT appearance in 2013, is second with 13. Alabama is 24-18 (.571) all-time in the event. The 24 victories gives the Tide the most NIT wins among SEC schools, surpassing South Carolina’s 22 wins in NIT play.
The winner of Wednesday’s game will face the victor of No. 4 seed Colorado and No. 5 seed Dayton at a time and date to be determined.
Other No. 1 seeds in addition to the Crimson Tide is UNC Greensboro, Indiana and TCU.
Alabama is one of nine SEC teams to earn a berth in either the NCAA Tournament or NIT. Joining the Crimson Tide in the NIT is Arkansas, while Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee each earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.