Late last week, Alabama men's basketball released their non-conference slate for the 2018-2019 season.

Similar to a season ago, the non-conference schedule features a total of 13 games with six games in Tuscaloosa, a trip to Huntsville, three road games including the Big 12/SEC Challenge at Baylor and three games in the Charleston Classic.

During Wednesday's edition of Inside the Locker Room, Alabama men's basketball director of operations Colton Houston broke down the non-conference schedule for the upcoming season.

Houston explained the balancing act that goes into arranging a non-conference schedule that can enhance your team's chances of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.

"I don't think you can play a lot of teams that are going to be down that 300 RPI range out of these smaller conferences, but you also can't think that just because you play some Lipscombs and Louisiana Techs that you don't have to go play any good teams out of the big conferences either." Houston said. "I think college basketball today is so competitive and the margin of error for getting in the tournament, being on the bubble vs. off the bubble is so small that you really have to do both."

Based off the fruits of the program's non-conference scheduling from last season, Alabama men's basketball's director of operation detailed how that success shaped this year's non-conference schedule.

"We're really trying to do something similar this year." Houston said. "Arizona's come back. We got Penn State who won the NIT last year, has a lot of guys coming back. They're going to be really good, got them coming to Tuscaloosa; a return game at Central Florida but then Murray State, Georgia State, teams that will have a really, really good shot to win their league and be tournament teams coming here to play us at Coleman Coliseum."

At the end of the December, Avery Johnson's squad will travel to Texas to play defending Southland Conference champion Stephen F. Austin. Houston elaborated on the reasoning for the trip.

"It really goes back to two years ago when we won 19 games and felt like we had a really good team but didn't get in. We sat down after that season and said, 'What do we need to change? What can we do better?' The schedule was probably the primary thing we identified out of that". Houston said.

Houston later summarized how the NCAA Tournament Selection looks at a schedule when factoring in who gets in the tournament and the importance of playing the best teams in the SEC twice.

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