Tuesday on "The Next Round," former Auburn basketball star Charles Barkley weighed in on the Alabama and Auburn basketball teams playing in the NCAA Tournament, both staying home and playing in Birmingham to start off March Madness.
Barkley said the two schools playing in-state was "great for Alabama" and added the two teams "should cheer for the other team."
"Those Alabama fans, they better be cheering for Auburn, and I'll tell you this: Auburn fans better be cheering for Alabama," the NBA Hall of Famer declared. "This is not like football. I think both teams should cheer for the other team, especially being in Birmingham. It's a huge advantage."
Barkley was asked for his reasoning, which he said was because basketball in the state was not the same as football.
"Well, it's because we're in Alabama. This is not football. We hate them in football. They hate us in football," he explained. "[T]his ain't football. Football is a different animal. Those Alabama fans better be rooting for us, and listen, I'm calling out my Auburn fans. We ought to be rooting for Alabama, too."
"This is great for Alabama, man," Barkley later added. "I'm a pro-Alabama guy. Anything that's going to be great for the state of Alabama, I think, is awesome. So, listen, come on, man, don't compare the Alabama rivalry in basketball to the Alabama rivalry in football."
Barkley, who earlier in the season declared Alabama to be the best team in the country, stuck to his guns and picked the Crimson Tide to be the next national champions, even though it was "painful" for him to say.
Charles Barkley’s predicted National Champion? @AlabamaMBB @UA_Athletics @MarchMadnessMBB #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/Wzb4u6LUgW— The Next Round (@NextRoundLive) March 14, 2023
"I'm picking, and this is painful for me to say, Roll Tide!" he exclaimed. "National champions."
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.