Two days after the WHO declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, and as community spreading has begun throughout the country, not only is “real life” being increasingly cancelled, but so too are its distractions and hobbies. Workers and schools are shuttering, “social distancing” and self-quarantine are the new national buzzwords, and good luck finding some hand sanitizer or toilet paper.
Two days after Rudy Gobert tested the Fates, he contracted the virus (as has Donovan Mitchell), and the NBA is now suspending its season. The Big Ten is playing its tournament in empty arenas.
And now, for better or worse, after cancelling all spring sporting events, the SEC has decided to just pull the plug on the SEC men’s basketball tournament altogether.
Roughly an hour before tipoff between the University of Alabama men’s basketball team and Tennessee, the Southeastern Conference office announced the cancellation of its tournament due to the outbreak of COVID-19 across the nation.
The AAC and the Big Ten have now followed suit as well.
With that cancellation, so ends the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2019-2020 regular season, Nate Oats’ first at the Capstone. It was a weird year for sure for 9th-place Crimson Tide, who defeated the conference’s #2, #3, #5, and #7 teams, but lost to its #10, #11, and #14 teams. Alabama does end the year with a winning record, at 16-15 overall, but just 8-10 in conference play. And now, with the tourney cancelled, so ends an improbable automatic bid for ‘Bama (but at least it does not face the spectre of finishing with a losing season.)
So, the question now becomes what, if any, chance does Alabama have to make post-season play? Still a little better than you think. Based on past seedings, Alabama entered today with a 4% chance of winning the SECT overall, and had a 17% chance of earning an at-large.
But, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. I don’t think even the most enthusiastic Gump could watch this team down the stretch — beat up and tired and thin and erratic as it is — and conclude it has done enough to make the field of 68. It is marginal in the NET rankings, sitting at No. 55, and is just 60th in the KenPom index. The RPI is even worse — 79th against the No. 32 strength of schedule.
Alabama has two Q1 wins, and went 2-7 against the top quadrant. In Q2, its natural punching class, Alabama went 6-5. It had no Q4 losses, which is good. But, what probably doomed this team the most, are the Q3 results. Against Quadrant 3, Alabama had three losses, and finished 5-3 against some scrubs. Two of those losses came in the last month to boot. The Vanderbilt loss on senior night was particularly appalling. While there were many reasons for the swoon, you can trace a lot of this back to the loss of starters. After Jones’ injury, Alabama went 4-8 down the stretch, taking some bad losses along the way. And, during/after Petty’s injury, the Tide went 1-3.
So, it seems to be all over but the shouting. Assuming there even is an NIT, Alabama most certainly would not be hosting a home game. Or, if it did, it would be a one-game hosting site only (barring some upsets). The Crimson Tide would instead most likely be a middle-seed.
And this may all be academic in the end. The NCAA is already wanting to play the tournament in empty gyms, and there is more than a fair shot that the entirety of post-season play — men and women — will simply be cancelled.
Swing your cactus, friends.
What should we do?
This poll is closed
Play the season out, fans and all
Play the season out, empty gyms
Just cancel the post-season altogether