The beginning of the end starts at 6:30 tonight, Tide fans, with a slate of nauseatingly poor teams facing off in game one as 12th seed South Carolina faces 13th seed Mississippi State. Arguably, it gets a little better after that when 11th seed Texas A&M (who actually has a -- gasp! -- winning record) takes on the worst team in the SEC, a.k.a. the Auburn Tigers. Yes, you're exactly right, it sounds just plain awful. However, let's not forget that the outcomes of every game played have an effect on every team's RPI, including our own.
Now, I won't pretend I can explain precisely how this works, but suffice it to say that bubble teams such as our beloved Crimson Tide need all the help they can get. I'll gladly take corrections to this, but to my mind this means that we want MSU to win the opener and Texas A&M to win the nightcap (yep, you've got to root against the barn...I know, I know).
And I know what you're thinking. "I hate Auburn, but we lost to them, so we want them to win, right?" That makes a lot of sense, actually, until you realize that Auburn is so bad that there's no salvaging their RPI. However, Texas A&M still finds themselves barely within the top 100 (at 97), and keeping them in that category could play a pivotal role in whether or not teams that beat them, like Alabama, get to advance.
I know what else you're thinking. "I can't pull for MSU. They've ruined more basketball seasons than I can remember!" Yeah, they have. But we also have two wins against them and only one against USCe, so that's who I'm pulling for in this one. Now, squeezing USC inside the top 200 might help us, but I'm just convinced that a win over the Bulldogs wouldn't accomplish this, so screw 'em.
You may also argue that they have a better shot at taking UT out of the way, which may be true. However, I don't think either of these teams beat UT, and quite frankly, we don't want them to do it. Well, OK, we kinda do, 'cause they low down, they dirty, etc. But if Alabama is going to squeeze into the Dance, the Tide needs wins over teams like UT, not the bottom feeders of the conference. I'm not convinced that we will beat Tennessee, but beating either of the other two by 70 points wouldn't help us as much as a triple-overtime win over the Viles.
There are further implications for tomorrow's games, which, for now, I will simply point out that Alabama probably wants LSU, Vanderbilt, and MIzzou to win (we have a loss to LSU, we want Arky out of the picture, and -- justly or not -- Mizzou is likely to dance even if they lose to Auburn or TAMU).
Aight, y'all. That's all I've got for now. To see all scheduled teams and times for the week, look here. Tell me where I messed up, be good to each other, and, as always, hope for the best.