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Here Comes The Rat Poison: For the first time in 20 years, Alabama Basketball is No. 1

That bullseye on ‘Bama’s back just grew exponentially larger.

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Auburn Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s Points in the Paint, I asked as an aside whether Alabama fans (or Nate Oats in particular) wanted the pressure that accompanies being the No. 1 team in the country.

Whether we or the coaching staff want that rat poison, a heaping helping has just been served on a silver platter to the Crimson Tide: for the first time since the 2002 regular season, and just the third week in program history, Alabama has earned the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll.

Alabama even being in the Top 10 is something to celebrate. Dating back to the 1955-1956 season, Alabama has been ranked in the Top 10 a total of 95 times. In a testament to how much work he’s done in such a short time, that Nate Oats’s teams are responsible for 18 of those — almost 20% of all Top 10 rankings in Alabama basketball’s 110 year-history belong to our man.

Here’s the rest of the Top 10, with a few remarks:

  1. Alabama, whom you know.
  2. Houston, after another pasting of a terrible AAC team. Maybe don’t schedule half of your games against Q4?
  3. Purdue — the singularly unselfish, but singularly unremarkable Boilers finally dropped one of those many close games they’ve flirted with all year, this time to bubblicious Northwestern. This team is a lot like ‘Bama two years ago. High ceiling...and capable of losing to anyone on a given night.
  4. UCLA — a team I’ve been warning about for a few weeks as sneaking up on everyone...which something I never thought I’d type about a Top 10 UCLA team, FFS.
  5. KU has righted the ship after dropping four of five, and now sit at 20-5 and seem to have their defense back on track.
  6. Texas’s 94-60 demolishing of WVU was one of the year’s most impressive games.
  7. UVA was gifted an overtime by the officials vs aggressively mediocre Duke, and then made the best of it in a flaky ACC.
  8. Arizona dropped a meh roadie to pedestrian Stanford. IDGAF about the rankings this year, the P12 is very down, with Arizona and the Bruins feasting.
  9. Baylor — still just sticking around winning 75% of their games, as usual.
  10. The Vawls dropped their second straight buzzer beater, this one at home. Hate to see it, I know. Win or lose, Alabama was always going be in for a hell of scrap this Wednesday. Ranking probably won’t matter.

The rest are here.

What does this mean? Maybe not as much as we think. We always knew that Alabama had a tough final frame for the SEC regular season: sorta’ archrival Arkansas, on the road in Knoxville, on the road vs. Aggie, home vs. the Barn. None of those were going to be overlooked.

And, for the last several years, Alabama has been one of the hunted rather than the hunters, in any event. Nate Oats isn’t sneaking up on anyone any longer. Talk around this program is no longer “try and get in the tournament” — it is instead expectations of reaching the second weekend...and beyond.

Success is the New Normal. And this is the pressure that come with that.
Let’s see how they respond.


Alabama Basketball No. 1 is...

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Rat poison that I did not want this team to swallow; Nate Oats job is a lot tougher now.
    (212 votes)
  • 34%
    Just a formality; Alabama has credibly been No. 1 most of the season and they knew it.
    (301 votes)
  • 41%
    Undecided. Let’s see how they respond against a struggling Tennessee team.
    (362 votes)
875 votes total Vote Now