The SEC is charging hard for eight bids, and could seriously garner as many as nine, depending on Vanderbilt’s week — and how rigid the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will be in adhering to the NET as a guidepost.
If you’re a team on the bubble or a potential at-large in a low-major conference, the last thing you want to see is Jerry Stackhouse kicking in the door and stealing a bid. But just as Vandy could prove to be a bid thief, there are some other teams lurking in the conference championship week that knock out some of those more marginal teams.
Let’s take a look at some good contenders to steal bids
I don’t really understand why Toledo is favored here. They’ve won the conference title B2B, sure, but are notorious chokers. The No. 2 team is way better...more importantly, more talented. Kent State is gonna’ wind up stealing this bid. They were on the bubble as a play-in team before the event, but if they win out, then Toledo is toast. It is winless against Q1/2, with a NET in the 80s, thus a possible two-bid league instantly becomes AQ-only.
Shoutout to the Bobcats for Mark Sears!
The Lobos get the good publicity, and the NMSU Aggies get the black eye, but take a look at Sam Houston State. The No. 2 seed is 24-6 and 7-1 in their last 8. They sit at 60 in the NET in a lower-rung midmajor without many quality programs. Even the Name Brand, New Mexico is just 50th in NET. And both are .500 in Q1/Q2 games, with very few of them being played — and just about all of them are coming in-conference. So this is very likely a one-bid league. The Bearkats could steal someone’s seat at the table with an upset.
Whoever wins this league deserves their bid. And as it stands, likely 10 teams are getting in anyway, except if the following happens: If the Oklahoma Sooners (NET 66) beat the Pokes (NET 44) in Basketball Bedlam, it’s going to drop OSU to lower 40s/upper 50s. They’ve lost 5 of 6 to Tourney-type teams, and have been remarkably bad on the road (like 20 point losses fairly regularly). They swept the Dirt Burglars in the regular season, but a Sooners win could ship Oklahoma State to the NIT. The B12 could rob itself.
Weird league, and perhaps the worst in the country. NC Central has all the momentum coming in. And Howard is the 1-seed and titular favorite. But should they be? The 3-seed should probably be favored. Why? They are better analytically than every other team in the conference — wildly so, and have the far more favorable NET and SOS. They also are the two-time defending champion, on a Senior team that knows how to win.
Lookie, lookie: It’s an old Alabama friend, one that helped give us Nate Oats — Norfolk State. This “upset” is happening. Not really a bid thief, since only the AQ was ever getting in. But I wanted to once again thank NSU for the assist.
The Ivy league is in that same category as the MAC. The best team, Yale, is a bubble/play-in type squad and might get consideration for a berth anyway. But the team they tied with, Princeton, has already beaten Yale this year and is accustomed to postseason expectations and big games. If Princeton knocks out Yale, whether the Ivy is a two-bid league (at least for a play-in) becomes an interesting debate. If Yale wins, then it’s AQ only. Princeton just doesn’t have the NET or schedule for consideration.
FAU has been the best team, sure. But this one is going to pose a real stickler for the committee if it comes to pass.
Look at 3-seed UAB. They’ve won 6 straight. They’ve beaten FAU at home, and lost on a last-second shot in Coral Gables. They matchup very well with the Owls with their tempo and scoring (Jelly is awesome). They also won the tourney last year. If the Blazers knock off FAU again — which may as well be a coin-toss at this point — how strictly do the Committee follow the NET?
For some really bush league reasons, FAU is 15th in NET. They have been absolutely running it up in conference play against bad teams to artificially bump their efficiency and MOV numbers, and thus NET scores. We’re talking press, traps, fast breaks, and jacking up threes well after the game has been decided. It’s gross to watch, even conceding it is not their responsibility to stop themselves. But they’ve scored just one decent win outside of the CUSA (at UF)...and this team also got destroyed by Ole Miss.
If anyone has figured out how to game the system, it’s the Owls. But will the committee reward them for that should they fall to the Blazers in Birmingham? Should they?
By the Numbers
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Meanwhile, here’s our weekly run-down of where ‘Bama stands by the numbers in the 2022-2023 season.
- Ranking: AP 4 (LW 2) / CBS Coaches 4 (LW 2)
- RPI: 1st (LW 1st)
- SOS: 2nd (LW 4th)
- KenPom: 3rd (LW 3rd), 20th offense (LW 19th), 3rd defense (LW 5th)
- Sagarin: 3rd (LW 2nd)
- Bart Torvik: 2nd (LW 2nd); 17th adj. offense (LW 13th); 2nd adj. defense (LW 2nd)
- True Tempo: 2nd — 73.3 adj. possessions per game (LW, 2nd)
- Offense PPG: 82.8 PPG
- Defense PPG: 71.1 PPG
- NET ranking: 2nd (LW 2nd)
Best of luck to the guys this week. Let’s go lock up a No. 1.
Who’s your No. 1 overall seed?
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Other, and explain yourself