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Points in the Paint: Let the Madness begin

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March basketball is now underway!

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Georgia

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I doubt we’ll have a narrative theme today for this one, probably a bunch of quick hitters, more like a JP. On with the show.

Rankings:

AP: 6 (last week, 8)
Coaches: 5 (last week, 5)
NET: 7 (last week, 7)
KenPom: 8 (last week, 8)
Adj. Off: 41st (last week, 34th — those cold nights from behind the arc and missed layups are really showing up here)
Adj. Def: 2nd (last week, 3rd)
RPI: 5 (last week, 4)
ELOCHESS: 7 (last week, 9)
SOS: 9 (last week, 11)

Tidbits

The heart and soul of the student section, Fluff, was given a grand send-off by the team, including an autographed team ball. This is well-deserved for Luke, and hopefully many, many more like him will step up next season:

ICYMI: In addition to being named a finalist for national defensive player of the year, Alabama’s Herbert Jones is a finalist for the big one, the Naismith Player of the Year. He’s one of just two players to be named a finalist for both awards.

One year ago..

Sexton was the Tide’s Sharife Cooper, a borderline lottery pick who willed a team to wins. In Sexton’s case, he also willed the Tide to an NCAA Tournament berth. the program’s first since 2012.

Johnson was and remains a good man. His presence on and around campus was excellent — he was a dad and mentor, as well as a coach, and it showed. He’s all class.

CBS had a cool interview with Coach Oats, the former HS math teacher, about the value of analytics, and why his approach is so analytically-driven.

That analytical approach shows too in ‘Bama’s “Rim and 3 rate — the quality of shots they’re getting on the inside, and the analytically-valued perimeter jumper. As well as how a team limits scoring on the inside and outside. Few in the country are as wedded to a system.

It results in some outstanding looks at the basket too.

Not coincidentally, everyone in that Top 20 will be in Indianapolis in two weeks.

I’m not really going to do a Bracket Heat Check this week — Alabama has probably cemented itself as a 2-seed, despite the fact that it is the only team in the NET Top 45 without a Q4 opponent, is one of just two teams with 14 Q1 / Q2 wins, is the only one with a Top 10 SOS, and is one of just seven teams with 7+ NET Q1 wins.

The NET is irrationally in love with the Big 10 this year, and I honestly don’t know why. Alabama probably does need at least one win this week to nail down a 2-seed.

Bama ‘Basketball Film Room has diagnosed some of the issues with Alabama’s funky cold starts of late (some of it is clearly loafing), as well as what can be done to improve upon them.

Their podcast is excellent too. If you missed that link earlier in one of these columns, here’s this week’s episode for hoops heads.

He also is a huge Jelly stan, and breaking down film, does a very good job of explaining why more of the offense should run through Q. I think that’s probably what Oats would like to see too, but that’s a decision wholly up to Quinerly — his defensive effort is keeping him off the floor, not his talent. And, had Q stayed at Villanova, Jay Wright would have pulled up a patch of pine for him too over the defensive lapses: You’re not going to play in the Big East, and especially at that program, if you won’t play defense.

The bottom line is the same though; it’s a better team with Quinerly busting it on both ends. Maybe we can convince him that it’s just an 8-game season now. Go on an 8-game, must-win streak, and this team can cut down the nets in Nashville and Indianapolis.

We’ll have an open thread and bracket for Wednesday and Thursday’s early games, but here’s where it stands going into SEC Tournament play tomorrow...and I’ve never been a bigger Mississippi State fan.

From Nate Oats’ “Hey, Coach” Appearance last night:

  • Yes, he knows this team is getting off to slow starts
  • Yes, he knows it’s particularly bad in early games
  • He is uncertain of who to scout for the Friday game, but like ‘Bama fans, he’s leaning towards UK
  • Some interesting thoughts on the Auburn net-cutting ceremony
  • And more. You can listen here.

And, finally, we’re again doing our annual RBR Bracket Pick ‘Em. The link and registration info is here.

See you tomorrow with a bracket and thread.

Roll Tide

Poll

Would you rather face Kentucky or Mississippi State on Friday?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Beating Cal three times in three months would make my year.
    (155 votes)
  • 52%
    Gimme’ CLANGA — I want no part of March Kentucky
    (169 votes)
324 votes total Vote Now