Hinkle Fieldhouse May Be Legendary, But Felt Anything But Home to Alabama in NCAA Tournament

Just A Minute: The Crimson Tide never seemed to find its sweet-shooting touch when playing in one of the smallest NCAA Tournament venues
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It was a special season for Alabama basketball. 

The Crimson Tide achieved numerous goals during a difficult year, including winning the SEC championship, regular-season title and tournament, culminating in what may have been the best season in program history. 

We have all offseason to debate its place in Alabama lore.  

However, if there was one thing that left a bad taste in the mouths of Crimson Tide fans it was probably Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The facility itself was fine, although the smaller venue made tickets more scarce, driving up the price for a seat. 

The problem was Alabama just didn't seem comfortable there, and couldn't make enough shots in the legendary facility. 

The NCAA’s decision to stage all 67 games of the tournament in Indiana, stretching from Bloomington to West Lafayette, made this a unique tournament. Games were played inside Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Yet Alabama played twice at Hinkle Fieldhouse, on the Butler campus, which hadn't host an NCAA Tournament game since 1940. 

Ironically, it's the place where the iconic scene in Hoosiers was filmed, with the coach measuring the distance to the rim to show it's the same as anywhere else.

At times, the Crimson Tide played like it wasn't.   

Alabama wasn't the only team to play there twice. Baylor, Gonzaga and UCLA all successfully navigated their way to two wins on that floor en route to reaching the Elite Eight. 

But against Iona in the first round, Alabama was 23-for-59 overall, 5-for-23 from three-point range. That worked out to 39, and 21.9 percent, respectively. Alabama made 80 percent of his free throws, while only having five attempts. 

In the Sweet 16, Alabama was 30-for-69, and 7-for-28, including the buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime. The percentages were 43.5 and 25. 

This time, though, the free throws were more of a factor, 11-for-25, 44 percent. 

The Bruins were 20-for-25, including 11-for-13 in overtime. 

The seven three-pointers were tied for fourth-fewest in a game this season. 

The free-throw percentage was third worst. 

In comparison, Alabama shot 53 percent overall (35-66), and 48.5 percent from three-point range (16-33) in its lone game among the other venues, against Maryland at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Give credit to UCLA, which is playing way better than an 11-seeded team and had a great game plan. 

But, "If only" will be words forever associated with the 2020-21 Crimson Tide, and don't look for Alabama to ever want to go back to Hinkle Fieldhouse again. It  definitely had its fill.  

Christopher Walsh's Just a Minute commentary appears weekly on BamaCentral+

Hinkle Fieldhouse Results 

First Round: March 19  

(7) Florida 75, (10) Virginia Tech 70 (OT) 

(8) Loyola Chicago 71, (9) Georgia Tech 60 

(11) Syracuse 78, (6) San Diego State 62 

First Round: March 20  

(5) Colorado 96, (12) Georgetown 73 

(2) Alabama 68, (15) Iona 55 

(11) UCLA 73, (6) BYU 62 

Second Round: March 21  

(1) Baylor 76, (9) Wisconsin 63 

(3) Arkansas 68, (6) Texas Tech 66 H

(12) Oregon State 80, (4) Oklahoma State 70 

Second Round: March 22  

(1) Gonzaga 87, (8) Oklahoma 71 

(5) Creighton 72, (13) Ohio 58 

(6) USC 85, No. 3 Kansas 51 

Sweet 16: March 27  

(1) Baylor 62, (5) Villanova 51 

(2) Houston 62, (11) Syracuse 46 

Sweet 16: March 28  

(1) Gonzaga 83, (5) Creighton 65

(11) UCLA 88, (2) Alabama 78 (OT)