The Crimson Tide (19-15) earned the No. 9 seed in the East Region as an at-large selection, while the Hokies (21-11), who were also chosen at-large, earned the No. 8 seed. The two teams will tip off at 8:20 p.m. CT on TNT.
“Our last two wins against Auburn and Texas A&M, though those wins were very, very, very important, we think our entire resume is what did it for us,” said Johnson. “When you lose 15 times, obviously we won 19 games, it says something about your strength of schedule in the non-conference. We scheduled tough on purpose, knowing that we could lose a few games. It also speaks of how tough the SEC is. We challenged ourselves in the non-conference, won our share of games, had seven quad 1 wins, had six wins over top-25 teams. I know a lot of times people want to focus on the bad news, which was our five game losing streak, but we had a lot of quality wins, and we beat some good teams this year.”
The tournament appearance is the Tide's 20th in program history, while Virginia Tech is making its 10th appearance overall and second in as many seasons.
“For us, in year three, this is where we wanted to be, back in the tournament, and hopefully have a chance to play some of our best basketball because the team that I saw play against some tough teams, our Alabama Crimson Tide team, when we were playing at a high level, we feel we can beat anybody,” added Johnson.
The winner of the Alabama vs. Virginia Tech game will advance to face the winner of the matchup between No. 1 Villanova and No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn/Radford on Saturday, March 17.