LAST WEEK: RPI 26
THIS WEEK: RPI 29
When you lose on the road to No. 84 Ole Miss, you gotta do something to stay in the committee’s mind. Turns out that winning a hyped national game, against the nation’s best player, and picking up a third “W” against an RPI Top Ten opponent goes a long way. That much heralded Freshman class came to play, with Collin Sexton outdueling Trae Young, with Herbert Jones emerging, and with John Petty getting the Tide off to a quick start from behind the arc.
The general feeling going into last week was that the Tide needed to pick up five, perhaps six, victories down the stretch to punch its ticket for the dance. After a split this past week, The Tide effectively needs to just play close to .500 basketball against a nasty stretch run against six teams in the RPI Top 50. They especially need to hold ground at home, where Alabama has been very good overall.
Here’s what they’re facing (Date/Team/Record/Stat-projected)
01-31 Missouri 12-8 (3-5) 46 (W)
02-03 at Florida 15-6 (6-2) 38 (L)
02-06 at Mississippi St. 14-6 (3-5) 74 (L)
02-10 Tennessee 15-5 (5-3) 13 (W)
02-13 LSU 12-8 (3-5) 82 (W)
02-17 at Kentucky 16-5 (5-3) 12 (L)
02-21 at Auburn 19-2 (7-1) 7 (L)
02-24 Arkansas 15-6 (4-4) 21 (W)
02-27 Florida 15-6 (6-2) 38 (W)
03-03 at Texas A&M 13-8 (2-6) 36 (L)
No surprise, with five games left apiece home-and-away, Alabama needs to hold serve on its home court. Stats project (and our lying eyes tell us) that Alabama has a good chance to go winless on the road, especially in brutal fashion against Florida and Kentucky. There’s no way to put this gently, we may have competed at times in Rupp and the O Dome, but ‘Bama has been run out of the building pretty consistently at both places.
The saving grace here is that of the four Top 21 teams Alabama faces, half are on the road, half at home. Even conceding roadies with Gata and BBN, a win against Arkansas and/or Tennessee will be critical, as will getting series sweeps against LSU and Mississippi State.
It’s not insurmountable. Alabama is in really good shape, being projected from a 5th to a 10th seed (average 9th). With three wins against four RPI Top 15 opponents, the Tide can do this...and even win its way to a good seed along the way.