Charles Barkley says Alabama, Auburn fans will be 'rooting for each other' in March Madness

Maxwell Donaldson
The Tuscaloosa News

With both Alabama basketball and Auburn playing in Birmingham to start March Madness, albeit in different regions and different sessions, former Auburn standout and Birmingham native Charles Barkley had an interesting take on the fan dynamic.

"Listen this ain't football so I think the Alabama-Auburn fans are going to be rooting for each other, that's just my personal opinion," Barkley said Monday on a CBS Zoom call previewing the NCAA Tournament. "Alabama and Auburn, we hate them in football and they hate us. When you get to the arena as an Auburn fan, if Alabama is playing you're going to root for them more than likely. Same thing, I think Alabama fans are going to root for Auburn."

The Crimson Tide (29-5) earned the No. 1 overall seed and will play the winner of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Southeast Missouri State at 1:45 p.m. CT Thursday on CBS. Alabama is led by Brandon Miller, the SEC Player of the Year, with 19.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

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The Tigers are the No. 9 seed in the Midwest region, with a first-round matchup versus No. 8 seed Iowa on Thursday (5:50 p.m., TNT). Auburn is led by Johni Broome with 14 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and Wendell Green Jr. (13.8 points, 4.2 assists).

Barkley played at Auburn from 1981-84 before becoming the fifth overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. He went on to have a 16-season NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. He is a part of the CBS studio crew for March Madness coverage. Earlier this season, he called Alabama the best team in the country on Next Round Live, a clip that the Crimson Tide has used in pregame videos.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers played twice this season, with Alabama winning both matchups: 90-85 in overtime in Tuscaloosa and 77-69 in Auburn. Both teams would have to make the championship game to play in a third edition of the rivalry this season.