Despite the current three-game losing streak, in which the Tide has lost games to arguably the SEC's three top teams, the Alabama basketball team is still in position to make the NCAA Tournament. As we hit the home stretch of college basketball season and the Tide chases a bid to the Big Dance, we'll provide updates at the beginning of each week showing the latest projections for the Tide's seeding and the latest look at the Tide's resume according to our usual method of breaking down Bama's results.
Latest RPI rankings
- Alabama is currently ranked 25th in the RPI
- The Tide is forecasted to finish ranked 22nd in the year-end RPI
- Bama's RPI strength of schedule is ranked 15th toughest in the nation
Latest bracket projections
- As of this morning's update, ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Tide as a #8 seed in his latest bracketology projection.
- As of last Wednesday (before the Vanderbilt and Kentucky losses) CBS's Jerry Palm had the Tide as a #5 seed in his latest bracketology projection. Clearly this seeding will drop when he updates again in a couple days, but safe to say Palm is bullish on Bama regardless.
- As of last Tuesday (before the Vanderbilt and Kentucky losses) SI's Andy Glockner had the Tide as a #7 seed in his latest bracket projection. Again, clearly Alabama will fall when he updates again tomorrow, but Bama should still be in his projections.
When all of this week's projections are in, I expect to see Bama seeded in the 8-10 range. So why is Bama still in solid shape for a bid despite losing three straight games? Two big reasons: the high RPI and the lack of bad losses.
The Tide's solid RPI is due in large part to having played only two teams projected to finish lower than 204th in the RPI, which is huge. Last year, Bama played nearly a dozen teams ranked lower than 204th (including four games against SEC foes LSU and Auburn). So, keep hoping that teams you've probably forgotten about like Oakland, Detroit, and North Florida continue to perform strongly within their respective conferences. Additionally, Alabama has played eight projected NCAA Tournament teams already, which is more than almost anyone in the country.
The lack of bad losses is simple enough: every single team Alabama has lost to is projected to be an NCAA Tournament team, and the Tide is a perfect 11-0 against non-NCAA teams. Further, four of the six losses thus far have come on the road, and the two that came at home were to top-5 seeds. Bama fans should hope that each of these six teams continues to play well and earn high NCAA seeds. If they do, these losses won't hurt the Tide too much.
The bad news of course is that Alabama is 2-6 against projected NCAA teams. Alabama has had some chances to get big wins in those games, but played extremely poorly in road losses to Dayton and Kansas State and a home loss to Vanderbilt, and let very close games slip away at home against Georgetown and on the road against Mississippi State and Kentucky. In particular, Bama had leads in the final minute against both Georgetown and Mississippi State.
With all of this considered, Bama is about where you'd expect for a team with its resume: in the field, but in the lower half of the at-large field. The bad news is that unless Arkansas continues to improve and force themselves into the conversation, Alabama likely only has two games remaining against projected NCAA Tournament teams: Florida and Mississippi State, both at home. If Bama wants to have any chance of improving its seeding beyond its current 8-or-lower range, it has to chalk up those games (or possibly other big games in the SEC Tournament) in the win column.
More importantly, in order to keep from falling lower into the dreaded bubble range, Alabama must at all costs keep its resume clean of "bad losses". In this case that means particularly the four games remaining against projected sub-100 RPI teams: South Carolina on the road Wednesday night, Auburn both on the road and at home, and Tennessee at home. The importance of that South Carolina road game on Wednesday cannot be overstated. Not only does Bama need to end its losing skid and right the ship, but its simply the kind of game a team that is only 2-6 against NCAA Tournament teams needs to win to stay on track for a bid.
Finally, if you do one thing as a Bama fan besides of course cheering for Alabama each and every game, cheer as hard as you can for Wichita State and Purdue the rest of the way. It's been said before but let's say it again: those two wins are pure, solid gold for this Alabama team's resume. Two wins away from home against projected NCAA Tournament teams in non-conference play are exactly the kind of things that get teams into the Big Dance and get them decent seeds. Could it be possible that an early-season Caribbean trip saves the Tide this year, one year after a similar trip cost them dearly?