With just a month left, it’s time to really start zeroing in on the brackets, because every game down the stretch is incredibly meaningful for ‘Bama’s postseason fortunes. No one wants to draw a hella’ dangerous perimeter team in the 3-14 matchup, or one of those defensive demons in the 2-15 game — just ask Kansas or Kentucky. It really behooves a title contender to get the best possible positioning in February so as to make a meaningful March possible.
And for the first time in about 15 years, the Tide is positioned to do just that: take a Top 5-6 seed, with Alabama even perhaps earning its first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. So, in that spirit, I’ll be pulling out the weekly stats and brackets, and placing them here in a standalone piece. We can speculate more fully and look at these stats and projections a bit more in-depth.
Once again, thanks to Draft Kings for generously sponsoring this site. They help us tremendously in keeping the site active. And, if you missed Wednesday’s story, the Tide has become quite the little darling with Vegas, in a year where the quality at the top is so closely bunched together — and where three of the top four will have all played one another in some fashion.
The first thing to look at is the NET. And we’ll begin with a great chart from one of our buds, UA Roundball Guy (if you’re not following him on Twitter, why not?)
This is Alabama’s NET resume, which will (largely) determine the Tide’s seeding in just one short month:
#3 Alabama NET Team Sheet pic.twitter.com/mfP2roU03l— Saturday | 3 PM | ESPNU (@UARoundballGuy) February 1, 2023
As we explained a few weeks ago, Alabama put together what looked to be a very competitive midmajor slate this season. Unfortunately, that just hasn’t panned out — three conference winners and returning NCAA tourney teams not only were not good wins, they’ve dropped all the way to meager T4 victories. You can afford an HBCU paycheck game dragging down the schedule if the SoCons and Sun Belts of the world play along.
But they did not.
Not much you can do about that if you’re Alabama. But you do have to hold serve at home, and you especially must make your remaining road games count a lot more — in particular, ones in Knoxville, College Station, and Auburn. Those would not only be huge road wins, but would bury the Vols and Barn in the regular season SEC race. But it won’t be an easy task — all three are two games behind the Tide, but all three also have gone 10-1 at home. They simply don’t lose games on their own parquet very often.
A sweep of those three would be special...as well as give Alabama three more Q1 NET wins, and put it in play for the No. 1 overall seed.
Here’s our weekly run-down of where ‘Bama stands by the numbers in the 2022-2023 season.
- Ranking: AP 3 (LW 2) / Coaches 3 (LW 2)
- RPI: 1st (LW 1st)
- SOS: 2nd (LW 4th)
- KenPom: 4th (LW 3rd), 17th offense (LW 13th), 6th defense (LW 5th)
- Sagarin: 3rd (LW 2nd)
- Bart Torvik: 3rd (LW 3rd); 19th adj. offense (LW 16th); 6th adj. defense (LW 6th)
- True Tempo: 2nd overall — 73.5 adj. possessions per game; 1.073 points per possession
- Offense PPG: 83.3 PPG
- Defense PPG: 68.7 PPG
- NET ranking: 3rd (LW 3rd)
The Tide’s unsteady day in Norman didn’t hurt them too badly, either in rankings or on the stat sheet.
There was some slippage, of course. But NET wasn’t ever going to move until Tennessee or Houston lost (and, yes, the Vols lost badly to Florida on Wednesday night. Assuming the Tide handles its business in Baton Rouge, on Saturday, ‘Bama could stand to move up to the No. 2 overall team in NET…Perhaps even No. 1 if Houston’s flaky offense no-shows in a competitive AAC.)
Does any of that translate to projected brackets? Let’s take a look — and Lunardi was almost prophetic on Wednesday, forecasting the Vols and their unsteady offense to make too many mistakes down the stretch to secure a No. 1, with KU possibly usurping UT for a final No. 1.
As with last week, Joe has the Tide picking up a No. 1 seed in the Dance, with the Tide moving up to the No. 2 overall seed. That’s fair. See that point above about the remaining road schedule for Alabama? It’s fairly brutal, and it further assumes that Alabama won’t have many miscues in Nashville — where Alabama is just 2-2 on neutral floors this season.
Unfortunately, that would also place ‘Bama as the 1-seed in a loaded South, with Alabama facing four teams it has seen (at least) 6 times in the last 14 months: Arkansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, and UNC. There’s also a nasty potential spoiler waiting in the wings, with a dangerous 11-seed West Virginia team, and an equally dangerous San Diego State squad (there is some quality ball being played in the MWC, and being buried late and on CBSS, few get to see it.)
And then there’s the behemoth: No. 2 Kansas. The Jayhawks are reeling a bit, having lost four of their last six, but this team is the defending champion, loaded with more talent than almost anyone in the nation, and they are battle tested — not just with the death march of the B12, but also their OOC schedule (Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Duke, Mizzou, Wisconsin among them.) Alongside Alabama, Gonzaga, and a handful of others, the Jayhawks prepared for March with a ridiculously hard November.
If Alabama makes it out of there, it will have earned its ring.
Jerry Palm’s prediction isn’t much kinder. And for my money, it’s probably a tougher road. Just like Lunardi, the Tide is the No. 2 overall seed there and has the 1-seed in the South. And, like Lunardi, the Tide would potentially face four teams it has already seen this year. But, who is projected in the South seems even less forgiving: UNC, Memphis, UConn, Michigan State, Kansas, a filthy-good St. Mary’s (no. 6 overall in NET), and UCLA.
Yes, the Tide went 3-1 against them this season, and it does avoid SEC rematches. But they weren’t easy wins by any stretch. Every last one of those victories were an absolute war. And the less said about the UConn debacle the better. Let’s also not forget what happened the last time ‘Bama faced UCLA either. And, yup, Kansas is still waiting in the wings.
Alabama could easily lose to half of the teams in Palm’s projected South region.
I would hope the committee would balance the brackets a bit better than this. But if they do not, this is where all of those brutal November and December games have to pay off right? A team that wins in Spring has to have been savaged in the Fall.
Which bracket would you prefer to see Alabama play?
This poll is closed
Jerry Palm: UNC, Mich. State, Memphis, St. Mary’s, UCLA, Kansas, UConn
Joe Lunardi: Kansas, Arkansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, UNC, SDSU, West Virginia
Both seem equally difficult