With Alabama's suspension saga mostly in the rearview mirror, it's time to start focusing again on where the Tide stands in the postseason pecking order. The bottom line is that if the season ended today, every major expert out there pretty much agrees that Alabama would be in the field, albeit as one of the lower at-large seeds. However, there is also pretty broad agreement that if the Tide slips any further and doesn't close strongly, there is a real risk of missing the tournament altogether.
Because the field is so fluid and depends on how other bubble teams perform and on how many at-large spots are available (depending on which teams get automatic bids by winning conference tournaments), it is impossible to say exactly what Bama needs to do from here on out to secure a bid. What we can do however is take a closer look at the Tide's resume, and what can be done to strengthen it. Alabama will have four opportunities to get wins (and avoid losses) over the next two weeks.
Latest RPI rankings
Latest bracket projections
- As of Monday's update, ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Tide as a #10 seed in his latest bracketology projection.
- As of Monday's update, The Sporting News' Ryan Fagan has the Tide as a #11 seed in his latest bracket projection.
- As of last Friday's update, CBS's Jerry Palm had the Tide as a #10 seed in his latest bracketology projection. This projection does not take into account the win against Tennessee.
Bama is 2-6 against projected NCAA Tournament teams, with just one game remaining against such a team (sans possible SEC Tournament matchups). Purdue, Mississippi State, and Kansas State are all opponents who are currently in the field, but like Bama, could fall out with a poor finish. Tide fans need pull for Purdue to finish strongly, because right now they are one of only two wins the Tide has against teams projected to be in the field. Keep an eye on Dayton, VCU, and LSU as well. Those teams have a lot of work to do but could fight their way into the field with strong finishes. Most important, though, in terms of this metric will be Bama's home game against Mississippi State on Saturday. This will be the Tide's final chance to get a win against a tournament team in the regular season.
Bama is 1-5 against RPI top 50 teams, with no games remaining against such teams. However, several teams are teetering right around the 50 mark. Currently, Kansas State is just above that mark at 48th, while Purdue is just below at 51st. Again, Bama fans should be hoping for Purdue to sneak up into the top 50, because top 50 RPI wins are a metric the committee will look at. Other Alabama opponents within striking distance of the top 50 are: Mississippi State (54th), Ole Miss (61st), and LSU (62nd).
Bama is 6-3 against RPI 51-100 teams, with at least three games remaining against such teams. Wins against teams in the bottom half of the top 100 won't skyrocket a team up the seeding lines, but they will certainly solidify a resume and provide another nice talking point. Alabama has wins over three teams that are currently right near the 100 mark: Maryland (91st), Oklahoma State (101st), and Tennessee (107th). It would benefit Bama's resume for each of those teams to finish strongly and end up in the top 100; if they do, the Tide would have 8 such wins--a very high number--already on the resume. Most importantly, though, Alabama has at least three more chances to pick up these wins with a home game against Mississippi State and road games at Arkansas and Ole Miss. Wins in these games would go a very long way in solidifying Bama's resume.
Bama is 10-1 against sub-100 RPI teams, with at least one such game remaining. As Tide fans know all too well, these wins really do nothing for your resume, but losses to these teams can be killer. Alabama's road loss to South Carolina looks really, really bad and is a big reason Bama is in real danger of missing the tournament altogether. There's nothing that can be done about that now, though, except hope that the Gamecocks don't fall all the way out of the top 200. What Alabama can do, however, is ensure that no more such losses appear. This means that the Tide must at all costs avoid losing at home to an Auburn team that is currently outside the top 100. There is a very good chance that Alabama will also face a sub-100 team like South Carolina, Georgia, or Auburn in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. If that happens, it's imperative that the Tide doesn't slip up and have its final game before Selection Sunday be a loss to a sub-100 team.