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The “Inside the NBA” crew has taken their talents into March Madness coverage and joined the pregame broadcast. Headlined by Charles Barkley and Kenny “The Jet” Smith, the duo provided their usual flair for pregame thoughts and predictions.

Charles Barley took center stage as usual, making his pick for the NCAA champion by crowning Alabama. This is far from a hot take as the Crimson Tide are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament.

“Roll Tide!!” Barkley said.

Alabama (29-5) has looked like the best team in college basketball for most of the season. They rank 7th in the country in scoring by averaging 82.2 points per game. The Crimson Tide also collect 44.4 rebounds per game, the best rate in the country, and hold opponents to just 68.5 ppg (131st).

They are led in scoring by freshman Brandon Miller. The future NBA lottery pick has averaged a team-high 19.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He is among the most talented players in college with an impressive array of shot creation and finishing around the basket, all while shooting 40.1% from beyond the 3-point arc this season.

Despite receiving the top seed in the tournament, Alabama is considered to have the second-best betting odds of winning according to the Vegas lines. They will face off with 16th-seeded Texas A&M Corpus Christi in their opening matchup.

Charles Barkley’s ties to Alabama

As Kenny Smith was quick to point out on the broadcast, Charles Barkley may be hurting the feelings of some of his alma mater by making this choice. Barkley spent three seasons at Auburn University.

From the 1982-1984 season, Barkley averaged 14.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals for the Tigers. He was a three-time member of the All-Southeastern Conference team and the 1983-84 SEC Player of the Year and led Auburn to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

While the two schools are located just 127 miles apart, the rivalry is much more fierce on the football field. Both schools have done an impressive job building up their basketball programs in recent years, which could further grow the rivalry. Auburn will be facing off against Iowa in an 8 vs. 9 matchup in this year’s tournament.

It is clear Barkley picked with his head and not his heart, as Alabama will now look to prove why it is the best team in the country in a way that many already believe.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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