Over a decade ago, Nate Oats was a high school math teacher coaching basketball. On Saturday, he will lead the Alabama Crimson Tide to their first-ever Final Four appearance.

On the opposing bench is someone Oats knows very well, UConn head coach Dan Hurley. Both Dan and his brother Bobby played a significant role in Oats’ coaching career.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for either one of them,” said Oats, whose Alabama team faces UConn in the national semifinals Saturday night.

The relationship started back at Romulus High School in Detroit, Michigan just over a decade ago.

On a recruiting trip to watch E.C. Matthews, one of Oats’ high school players, Bobby, a former two-time national champion player at Duke, was serving as an assistant coach on his brother Dan’s staff at Rhode Island. Oats’ passion and knowledge of the game caught the attention of Bobby.

Shortly after, Bobby took the head coaching job at Buffalo and immediately hired Oats to his staff.

Bobby leveraged his success at Buffalo to secure the head coaching position at Arizona State, where he has been since 2015. When Oats was named interim coach at Buffalo, and with then-athletic director Danny White deliberating on a permanent decision, Hurley expressed his intent to hire Oats as an assistant at Arizona State if he wasn't chosen for the permanent position.

Oats was appointed head coach and continued to build the Buffalo program, guiding the Bulls to the NCAA Tournament in his debut season and achieving this feat three times in four years. His success at Buffalo opened up a new opportunity for Oats, this time at Alabama.

In Oats' initial season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide did not make the NCAA Tournament. However, they have participated in March Madness in each of the subsequent four years, with three appearances reaching at least the Sweet 16.

This season, Oats guided Alabama to its first-ever Final Four appearance in school history. Despite an overhauled roster and three new assistant coaches, the team excelled, earning a pivotal matchup against Dan Hurley's UConnHuskies with a spot in the national title game up for grabs.

“It’s ironic that my first Final Four that I make, the first one Alabama makes, coaching against Danny Hurley, brother Bobby is the one that got me in this business,” Oats said. “If it wasn’t for Danny and Bobby, I wouldn’t be here. We’re playing each other in Bobby’s town down here in Phoenix. Kind of funny how it comes full circle.”

Alabama will take on UConn in the Final Four on Saturday with a 7:49 p.m. CT tip-off on TBS.

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