March Madness is back in the Magic City for the first time in 14 years, in what’s been an exciting tournament to date. People from all over have come to Birmingham to cheer on their teams. I met 6 cigar-loving jokesters from Corpus Christi at Jack Brown’s for example, and they couldn’t help but rave about both burgers and city. The Bham-hosted first and second rounds have been even more fun for Alabamians as both the #9-seeded Auburn Tigers and #1 Alabama Crimson Tide are both playing in the city. Alabama beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi in a 96 - 75 effort in the first round, while Auburn advanced to the second round by defeating #8 Iowa in a 83 - 75 matchup. Both games happened Thursday, and both teams will now be playing their next can’t-lose game on Saturday night at the Legacy Arena.
Alabama will be playing the Maryland Terrapins. The 8th-seeded opponent bested West Virginia in a close contest for the opportunity to take on this titanic Crimson Tide team. Alabama basketball is the number one overall team for the first time in program history, and Alabama fans that live in the Magic City, Tuscaloosa, and all over the state are enjoying having the largest stages of a monumental season being so close to witness in-person. Maryland comes into the game with an impressive 22-12 record, and will be looking to upset the Tide to move into the Sweet 16.
Auburn will come in as the underdog in their matchup against the #1-seeded Houston Cougars. Houston has a very impressive 32-3 record that included a trip to the American Athletic Conference finals. For all the winning that the Cougars have been doing, they face a very tough matchup in Auburn - especially since the game is in Birmingham. Sports Illustrated and other publications have taken a closer look at the fairness of the location, but fans and players will be focused on nothing but the game when things tip-off in the Magic City.
The Auburn-Houston game comes first, with a 6:10pm start time. Alabama and Maryland follow with the later night showdown at 8:40pm. Out-of-town visitors have the 39th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and plenty of fun bars, restaurants, and breweries to enjoy until then. As they say around town, it’s nice to have y’all in Birmingham!
Cover image from Alabama Men’s Basketball