Has Alabama already ruined their shot at the NCAA tournament with their recent losses? I’m not ready to concede that yet. I think they still have a shot and if they get in, these are the reasons why:
1. Five Quadrant 1 wins
It’s all about the quadrants now.
Alabama has five quadrant 1 wins, with #28 Texas A&M (top 30 at home), #45 Florida (top 75 on the road), and the three top 15 RPI wins I mention below.
Unfortunately for Alabama, Oklahoma is just outside of being a Q1 win now. That could still be six wins if they move up (they are at 37 now, need to be top 30 since it was a home game for Alabama). If they beat Texas A&M on Saturday that will be another one. Plus a win over Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Missouri or Florida in the SEC tournament will count as a top 50 win on a neutral floor and be a quadrant 1 win.
2. Three RPI top 15 wins
They have not one, not two, but THREE wins against RPI Top 15 teams. Two of those teams lost last night, but didn’t really fall in the rankings. They have wins over #7 Auburn, #8 Tennessee and #14 Rhode Island. Rhode Island lost and fell from 8th to 14th, but Tennessee moved up from 12th to 8th to basically even things out. Auburn lost but didn’t move as they are still 7th. However, Alabama fell from #41 to #57 after last night, so that will hurt.
3. Star Power
I get that a lot of people aren’t real high on Collin Sexton now, but in a year where the FBI scandal is tearing college basketball apart, they need to advertise all the star power they can. With Sexton being a potential lottery pick, would he make for a good player to advertise being in the tournament?
Could that really be something to let them in, who knows, but politics clearly plays a role sometimes in things like this.
4. Way more so than football, resume and non-conference schedule seems to come into play
In years that Alabama or other teams have been close to making the NCAA tournament, many times you can point to a weak non-conference schedule as keeping them out. They do value that first half of the season and Alabama for once scheduled hard, even though they were split on some of the actual hard games.
The numbers seem to count for more in basketball since there are so many teams which makes it harder to just choose the “best looking teams”. Alabama has looked abysmal lately, but their losses come to the RPI #7, #16, #27 and #45 teams. However, when the committee goes to pull resumes, there will still be numbers in Alabama’s favor.
We all assume that they won’t look good at Texas A&M or in the SEC tournament because they have looked bad the last couple of weeks, but if they were to beat A&M (an RPI top 30 team) on the road then win a conference game which could be against Texas A&M again if the standings hold or potentially Missouri (both of which would be quadrant 1 wins) then their resume would get more “quality wins” when it comes to the numbers.
5. The strength of the SEC
Their four game losing streak is to four of the top 5 teams in the conference (Auburn #1, Florida #3, Arkansas #4, Kentucky #5), not to mention they beat the #2 team right now (and a team that is still in the hunt for the regular season title). The SEC is playing much better, so losing multiple games to the top of the league (three of the top five of which you have wins against also), I don’t think it hurts quite as much.