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Points in the Paint: Midmajor collapse leaves open the door for an Alabama tourney berth

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But, it’s closing fast

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

I am sore wounded but not slain.
I will lay me down and bleed a while
And then rise up to fight again
John Dryden (1631-1700)
Annus Mirabilis

Fight.

That is one thing that this Crimson Tide team has consistently done with its back to the wall in 2020.

Auburn has two losses on the season — and the one it suffered to the Crimson Tide in January was its worst in 13 months. Last night, the Tigers almost picked up a third. And, on the season series, Alabama is now +15 against the Boogs.

Unfortunately, that margin of victory is not (officially) considered by the Committee. Alabama fighting its way back after falling down 0-16, to lose in overtime on the road, matters as much to the Tigers as does Alabama thoroughly dominating the Tigers in Tuscaloosa. Aside from that 0-16 spurt, Alabama has outpaced the Tigers for 79 of 85 minutes in the two times they’ve met this season.

But, it was a loss. And, the Tide find themselves with their backs to the wall, again, and mired in a 1-4 stretch, where Alabama could have — indeed should have — picked up at least two other victories.

Still, the Computers absolutely love the Tide. Despite losing last night, the 13-11 Crimson Tide rose in the NET rankings, from 40th to 39th. KenPom has the Tide at 48. And, in the KenPom opponent adjusted SOS, the Tide has the 53rd overall schedule — that is the 9th toughest among all High Major/Power Conferences. RealTime RPI puts ‘Bama at 49th, with the 31st overall SOS.

Their tournament case has also been bolstered by the collapse of several midmajor and high major teams, including: the VCU Rams, Richmond Spiders, Northern Iowa Panthers, and several other post-season fixtures. But, that’s what the NET does — it favors power conferences. In this case, it is good to be in a major conference. No scrappy underdogs for 20202. And, teams like Alabama have the chance to make sure that Cinderella not only doesn’t get a glass slipper, but that she doesn’t even get a ticket to the ball.

Many bracketologists have the Tide as among the last four out or firmly out, despite the fact that, based on NET alone, Alabama would be an 11-seed line. Alabama can still get there. But, it’s going to take some winning down the stretch. Herb Jones’ absence was definitely felt in the two-plus weeks he was recovering from surgery. But, he was a lion again last night.

We needed him like a dying man needs to slake his thirst as he slides into the darkness.

We need the fifty-burger shooting of Petty that showed up on the Plains.

We need the triple-double potential of Kira Lewis, and the overall careful ball-handling that the Tide displayed last night as a team.

We need that hard hat, blue collar effort for seven more regular season games, and to actually win those games.

This team cannot afford any bad losses. It cannot afford to go worse than 5-2 down the stretch. It cannot afford no-shows. It cannot afford to not pick up a quality win Saturday against LSU.

And, above all, it cannot afford any more bad luck. This scrappy, thin, beat-up Alabama team is due for a break.

Fortunately, the Crimson Tide can make their luck. In its remaining seven games, Alabama faces two teams inside the NET 50, with five total in the Top 100. Running the table there, or a 4-1 record in those, would go a long way to making a strong closing argument for Nate Oats’ club.

Run to the ‘Dance:
vs. LSU (RPI 18, NET 27, KenPom 23)
vs. Texas A&M (RPI 168, NET 133, KenPom 172)
at Ole Miss (RPI 107, NET 81, KenPom 87)
at Miss. State (RPI 56, NET 48, KenPom 49)
vs. South Carolina (RPI 68, NET 75, KenPom 73)
vs. Vanderbilt (RPI 198, NET 149, KenPom 177)
at Missouri (RPI 134, NET 94, KenPom 115)

Poll

Does Alabama make the NCAA tournament this year?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Yes
    (167 votes)
  • 44%
    No
    (247 votes)
  • 26%
    Flip a coin
    (146 votes)
560 votes total Vote Now