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Points in the Paint: What is up with the NET’s irrational Big 10 love affair?

I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but damn, you don’t have to fall in love that hard.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

First, let’s check the rankings, shall we. There’s some super sus stuff going on with the NET and its nigh’ mirror image at KenPom.

OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 24th (last week, 35th)
DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 2nd (last week, 1st)
PACE: 9th (last week 14th)
NCAA Tournament Rankings: 7th, 2-seed


The Directorate of Hot Takes is pretty pissed, y’all

Alabama has literally not moved at all, for the first time all season. Meanwhile, the Big 10 is seeing all kinds of movement, and teams vaulting the Tide, despite having comparable or worse objective measurables. Check this out:

Only five teams in the over 300+ playing college hoops have 6+ wins against the Q1 teams. Alabama is one of them. In fact, its profile is almost identical to Illinois — except that Alabama has a better record on neutral court, a better overall record, a better winning percentage, a better record against Q1 teams, and has dropped just one more Q2 game than Illinois — but both of its Q2 losses were against teams expected to be in the tournament. So, ding Alabama if you will for a 4-2 Q2 record vs. the Illini’s 4-1 record.

So, wanna’ take a guess at the NET for these two squads? Illinois is freaking 4th. Fourth. Alabama is 9th. What is the variable that is accounting for that difference? Nothing rational, I assure you.

And Illinois is not alone in this respect. The NET has Iowa ranked 8th. What is their resume? Well, the Hawkeyes are 6-5 in their last 11, they’re 4-5 against NET Q1 teams, they’re 4-3 on the road, they have a Q3 loss. And the schedule simply isn’t that daunting — 71st. Under the RPI, they’d be ranked 52nd. Yet, this team is one spot above the Tide in NET, who has a vastly superior resume in every respect. (This is where I should also mention that the Big 10’s Big Five — Iowa, Illinois, Sconnie, Michigan, and Ohio State — have played a combined 20 Q4 games. To contrast that, the 14 member institutions of the SEC have played 44 Q4 opponents, and Ole Miss, Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee have 20 of those.)

Oh, hi! It’s data supporting the above proposition!

In many ways, it is very much the same recursive effect we see in football. The SEC and Big 10 are regarded as very good; they beat one another up and don’t lose much traction in rankings or national regard. And some teams are getting fat off of soup cans and conference play.

But the difference between, say, the SEC in football and the Big 10 in hoops is that the Crackers have proven it on the field. The Big 10 can make no such claim. In the last 20 years, the Big 10 has only 7 Final Four appearances and one national title — and almost half of those Final Fours and the sole natty came during Izzo’s dynastic years. In that same time, the SEC has had twelve Final Four appearances, including six in the last nine seasons, and three national titles. Moreover, every team in the SEC — every. last. damn. one — has made the NCAA tournament at least once in the last five years. The so-called Basketball Conference has had five schools miss the last five tournaments, including “basketball schools” Illinois and Indiana.

The NET is a tool, but it cannot be the only tool the committee uses. I fear, however, that they are relying way too much on a new algorithm that was meant to correct the issues inherent in the RPI. Because whatever it is, the NET is greatly overvaluing teams that have had just frankly laughably bad OOC schedules (Only one has a SOS in the double digits, OSU at 71. The rest are well into the mid-100s....and even lower, including, yes, Iowa and Michigan and Illinois.)

Not to be too much of an SEC supremacist, but our “football schools” have six coaches who have led teams to the Final Four, and arguably one of the hottest young coaches in the country. I rarely get provincial, but it’s past time to evaluate basketball based upon reality, not perception or historicity. And I’ll lay the SEC’s track record against the grunt, grind, and groan of hi-low screens and 12-foot jumpers against slow-ass white boys any day.

(That said, I really do think Illinois can be a remarkably dangerous team and that Ohio State is outstanding. And when Michigan isn’t chickening out of another big game, wake me up.)

Get some, haters.

Now, we move on to a few more articles of note:

If you think Alabama is just a perimeter team, you are sadly mistaken. At its heart, Alabama is a defensive one:

“It’s not a three-or-die team, but we’ll certainly take a lot of ‘em if you’re gonna give ‘em to us,” says Oats. “If you don’t want to give ‘em to us then we’re gonna drive the ball and score it in the paint. At least that’s the plan. The rate at which we make threes is gonna determine the margin of victory, not whether we win or not. That will be determined on the defensive end.”


Retin Obasohan and Corban Collins — two of my favorite players on some disastrously ill-coached Avery Johnson teams. You gotta’ think Nate Oats would have loved both of these gritty all-blue collar dudes.

Alabama’s slog against Texas A&M is being moved to Thursday, owing to a generational Bomb Cyclone in the Lone Star State that has left 2+ million without power and much of the state covered in ice.

And, TBH, Thursday may be optimistic.

BTW: I call this one a slog because Buzz’s team just plays gross, gross basketball: Hook, hold, grab, bull in a china shop ball. It’s the bad ole’ SEC of a decade ago. So, expect to see a repeat of the Mississippi State / Kentucky affairs.

The Tide’s outburst against Crean’s defensively challenged Bulldogs set several records for ‘Bama. When it’s all clicking, this team is the most fun that you can have with your clothes on.

I’d like to eventually do something with these guys: The Bama Basketball Film Room has some great content if you want to delve a little deeper than the box score.

Check out their podcast.

We don’t really cover much women’s hoops here; lack of time, lack of general interest, lack of expertise all play into it. But, tip your hat to a proper G — Jasmine Walker. Besides setting records, she is trying to stake her claim to being the best player in the sport in 2021.

If you missed Nate Oats on SVP’s show, you can watch that below too:

That’s it for the nonce. We’ll be back next Tuesday, when hopefully my blood pressure will have dropped some. But that comes after a trip to Texas A&M (which I still don’t think is going to happen), and an absolute mauling-in-waiting when Vanderbilt comes to town on Saturday.

REMEMBER: It’s not too late to help out Coach Oats and the ‘Bama Basketball Fight 4 Literacy. The inclement conditions have sort of stoppered participation for many, but cold hard cash is always welcome.


If Alabama runs the table, should they be a 1-seed?

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