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Alabama men's basketball will face challenging schedule


From Special Reports



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama men''s basketball team will face a challenging non-conference schedule in addition to the traditional Southeastern Conference slate, coach Anthony Grant announced Thursday. 


Fifteen home dates, plus a contest in Birmingham, Ala., highlight a schedule that features at least 15 contests against teams that finished 2010-11 ranked in the top 100 of the RPI. 


"This is as strong of a non-conference schedule as Alabama has faced in recent years," Grant said. "We''ll face a Final Four team in VCU, NCAA tournament teams in Oakland, Georgetown, Kansas State, and programs such as Dayton and Oklahoma State that advanced to the NIT. Plus there are seven other very good programs we could potentially face in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off." 


The Crimson Tide''s home non-conference schedule is highlighted by a visit from VCU (Nov. 27), which advanced to the Final Four last season, and perennial Big East power Georgetown (Dec. 1). Alabama also will play host to Oklahoma State (Dec. 21) at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. The game is included in the Crimson Tide''s season-ticket package. 


"Playing in Birmingham is good for us and our program," Grant said. "It gives our fans in that area an opportunity to see us play a quality Big 12 opponent in Oklahoma State. We played them in Oklahoma City last year, and are looking forward to playing them in Alabama this season." 


Alabama will open the 2011-12 campaign Nov. 11 at home against North Florida, followed by a contest Nov. 14 against Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies advanced to the NCAA tournament last season and also had a marquee win against the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. 


Three games in Puerto Rico follow with Alabama facing Maryland on Nov. 17.  The second game of the tipoff will be against Colorado or Wichita State, both of which UA faced in the NIT Final Four last season. The final game on the island will come against Temple, Iona, Western Michigan, or Purdue. 


Home games against in-state foe Alabama A&M (Nov. 23) and VCU will close the first month of the season. December begins with Alabama playing host to Georgetown in the Big East/SEC Challenge on Dec. 1. Alabama''s first true road test will come Dec. 7 when Grant returns to his alma mater, Dayton. UA then will return home to play host to Detroit on Dec. 11, before tackling final exams and traveling to Trevor Releford''s hometown of Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 17 to face Kansas State. 


The 14-game non-conference schedule wraps up with the Oklahoma State game, a home date against Jacksonville (Dec. 29), and a visit to Georgia Tech (Jan. 3). 


"The non-conference schedule presents a lot of different styles of play, challenges and road environments that will prepare us for the conference season," Grant said.   


SEC action will begin Jan. 7 when Alabama will play at Georgia. Alabama''s home SEC opponents include all five Western Division foes and Vanderbilt, Florida, and Tennessee from the Eastern Division. All 16 of the Tide''s SEC games will be televised, with six carried by ESPN or ESPN2. CBS will televise the Jan. 21 game at Kentucky. 


Grant guided Alabama to a 25-12 finish in his third season. The Crimson Tide won the SEC Western Division title and advanced to the NIT championship game.



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