Where to watch: No. 9 Alabama (16-15 – #60 KenPom rating) vs. No. 8 Tennessee (17-14 – #68) – Today noon Central, Bridgestone Arena (Nashville), SEC Network
Who to watch: Herbert Jones. Bama didn’t have the junior forward in last month’s 69-68 loss to the Vols, and it showed up both on the stat sheet (where Tennessee held a 42-33 edge on the glass) and off (with Tide players melting down in the second half over the lopsided foul total – culminating in a technical foul that helped accelerate the Volunteer comeback.) It is unknown whether Jones will be able play without the padded cast he’s worn for the past month, but even a limited Jones would be a big help in keeping UT’s frontcourt from running roughshod over the Crimson Tide.
What to watch for: Finding motivation in unusual circumstances. As of Wednesday night the SEC Tournament was scheduled to continue, although with fans barred from the building and attendance limited to “essential staff, limited family and credentialed media” beginning with today’s second-round games. This thinned-out roster was already unlikely to go on any kind of deep run this week, and now it is unclear whether there will even be a NIT berth to play for as the sports calendar rapidly melts away in the face of fears of a global pandemic. This team had trouble enough trouble staying focused down the stretch as the season started slipping away. How hard is it going to be to find the inner discipline if things start going sideways in an empty, echoing arena after months of battling fatigue, injuries and confusion that naturally results from switching to a new system?
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris