It was "Sweet Home Alabama" for the NCAA West Region Champion Crimson Tide Basketball Team this afternoon.  Hundreds of fans gathered at Tuscaloosa National Airport to welcome their heroes home from Los Angeles. where they defeated # 6 seed Grand Canyon and #1 Seed North Carolina to earn their first NCAA Final Four appearance.

The team was late arriving, but the cheering crowd stayed around and got rewarded for their patience. Tide Coach Nate Oats exited the charter flight holding the West Region Championship trophy high but there is another bigger prize he would like to hoist next week - the National Championship hardware.

As -players exited the terminal building fans gathered around getting autographs and posing for pictures. Security had to help the team get to their luggage. Smiles abounded on both fans and team members. Coach Oats exited the terminal building, high fived fans and thanked everyone for coming out.

The trip home will only be a pit stop. As Oats said, "We will wash our clothes, get a little rest, get well, get in some practice and get back to the West Coast." The Tide will tangle with the #1 team in the nation, defending national champion UConn at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona Saturday afternoon and should they win, challenge for the school's first ever national basketball title Monday night.

UA fan Sophie Greenhaw from Athens, AL was ecstatic, "This is awesome, I feel like the basketball team is finally getting some fans and we are not just a football school anymore." Greenhaw has faith that the Tide can surprise everyone in Phoenix.

Michael Gaddy was in the crowd with friends, "I actually was not a huge basketball fan before I met my wife but now, I can't even stand it I love it so much."  Gaddy said he just had to show his support the team by being at the airport, "I'm so proud of them, we're among the last four standing and not many other fans can say that."

The Tide men are not the first Alabama basketball team to play in a final four. The 1994 Bama women, under then head coach Rick Moody made the trip to the semi-finals. The ladies went 26-7 overall but lost by three points to Louisiana Tech their first game and finished fourth that year.

UConn has opened as an 11.5-point favorite which is pretty high for a final four game. The games will be televised by TBS and heard on Tide 100.9, 95.3 The Bear and 1230AM locally.

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