Nate Oats is preparing his top-seeded Alabama squad for what could be a bit of an interesting atmosphere in Birmingham Saturday evening.

Though playing in separate regions, Alabama and Auburn both play games in Birmingham during the Round of 32 action on Saturday. Auburn — the No. 9 seed in the Midwest Region — faces No. 1 seed Houston at 7:10 pm ET. Alabama as the No. 1 seed in the South Region faces No. 8 seed Maryland at 9:40 pm ET.

With the Tigers getting the early game, Oats knows some Auburn fans are likely to hang around for Alabama’s matchup. Oats made it clear he would like it “if… we could get all the SEC fans to cheer for the SEC team in our game.”

At the end of the day, Oats knows some Auburn fans will stay in the arena to pull against the Tide because “they can’t help themselves.” Nevertheless, Oats says he’s “pulling for the SEC. I want the SEC teams to do well (in March Madness.”

Can Iron Bowl rivals bury the hatchet for March?

We’ll see if fans on opposite sides of the Iron Bowl can come together to pull for one another on Saturday. Anything can happen, but that would likely take a particular set of March magic to make it happen.

To his credit, Maryland head coach Kevin Willard has urged Auburn fans to “stick around” for the nightcap against the Tide. He’s clearly hoping to use some of those rivalry feelings from the Tiger faithful to his advantage in Birmingham.