Alabama Basketball: Big 12-SEC Challenge helped Tide’s NCAA chances

TUSCALOOSA, AL - JANUARY 27: Herbert Jones
TUSCALOOSA, AL - JANUARY 27: Herbert Jones /

Alabama basketball, winner of five out its last six games, is included in the NCAA Tourney field by virtually all Bracketologists. The Big-12-SEC Challenge results boosted the Tide’s chances.

Alabama basketball fans are still celebrating the best Tide performance of the season, beating Oklahoma 80-73. Even before the win over the Sooners, the Tide’s recent wins had it projected in the NCAA field.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Alabama basketball a nine seed. The other high profile bracketologist, Jerry Palm also had the Tide seeded at nine. The Oklahoma win should bump the Tide even higher.

This season’s enhanced performance of the SEC is boosting the NCAA chances of many teams. Lunardi’s most recent projection had eight SEC teams in the NCAA field. Jerry Palm had nine SEC teams making the Big Dance.

Over the weekend, the SEC came out on top in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. SEC teams won six of the 10 games. The SEC had never won in the previous four years of the series. The leagues tied 5-5 last season. In the first three years, the combined record was 20-10 in favor of the Big 12.

SEC Winners

  • Kentucky took down the highest ranked Big 12 team, No. 7 ranked West Virginia. Playing in Morgantown, the Mountaineers led by 15 points at the half. The Wildcats roared back to win 83-76.
  • Tennessee also won on the road. The Volunteers traveled to Ames, IA and demolished Iowa State. The Cyclones are down this season but are still tough at home. Rick Barnes’ team blew out the Cyclones, 68-45.
  • Florida easily handled Baylor in Gainsville, 81-60. The Gators lost four of five games in mid-December. One of those losses was to Duke by three points. Since then the Gators have only lost twice, to Ole Miss and South Carolina. The Gators are loaded with talent.
  • Arkansas beat Oklahoma State 66-65 in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks held the Cowboys to 25 second-half points.
  • The big surprise of the weekend was Vanderbilt beating TCU 81-78. Not even the ‘magic’ of Vandy’s Memorial Gym was expected to be enough for the Dores to win.
  • Alabama 80-73 over Oklahoma was no shocker. The Sooners were favored by less than two points. What did raise eyebrows was the Tide’s domination of the game’s last 11 minutes.

SEC Losers

  • Texas A&M losing to Kansas in Lawrence was not a surprise. The Jayhawks won 79-68.
  • South Carolina lost at home to Texas Tech, 70-63.
  • Georgia losing to Kansas State in Manhattan was also not a surprise. The Wildcats won 56-51.
  • Ole Miss remained winless on the road this season. Texas took down Ole Miss 85-72.

Next: Trae Young vs. Collin Sexton highlighted the Big 12-SEC Challenge

The Alabama win over Oklahoma does not make the Tide an NCAA Tourney ‘lock.’ It was a big win but the Tide has 10 more regular season games. Eight of those games are against seven possible NCAA teams, plus a ninth game in Starkville against Mississippi State. It is a near brutal finish.