Alabama Basketball: Mar. 4th NCAA ‘Bubble Watch’

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 09: Herb Jones
TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 09: Herb Jones /

Despite a late-season collapse, Alabama basketball remains an NCAA ‘Bubble’ team. With an SEC Tournament win or two, the Tide could still receive an NCAA bid.

Many, maybe even most Alabama basketball fans have checked out on post-season play. Few of the most optimistic Tide fans foresee an SEC Tournament championship. Most of the fanbase want nothing to do with another dispiriting post-season NIT.

For those so inclined, there is still a measure of hope for an NCAA bid. Top Bracketologists are split. Jerry Palm has the Tide out of the field. Joe Lunardi has the Tide at a 10 seed. Other credible bracket prognosticators have the Tide clinging to a bid through one of the four first round games.

Quadrant 1 Wins and SOS

Putting aside for later what the Tide must do in the SEC Tournament, let’s review how a 17-14 team is still rated so high. As defined by the Selection Committee, a Quadrant 1 win is a home win against a team 1-30 in the RPI or a neutral site win against a 1-50 RPI or an away win against a 1-75 RPI.

Alabama basketball has five Quadrant 1 wins, one on the road at Florida. The Tide just misses on having six, with Oklahoma dropping out of the Top 30 RPI since the Tide beat the Sooners. Only 17 Division 1 teams have more Quadrant 1 wins than the Tide.

Quadrant rating is the latest category used by the NCAA Tournament committee to select teams. While it is not the only measurement it is believed to be very important. Another important data point is Strength of Schedule (SOS). Jerry Palm has the Alabama basketball SOS as No. 6. That is 6th best out of 351 teams. The lofty SOS diminishes the impact of 14 losses.

Soft Bubble and is 18 wins enough?

The general assessment among experienced Bracket experts is the Bubble is soft because an unusually high number of Bubble or near-Bubble teams with flawed resumes. A soft Bubble helps the Tide but only if it can trend up a bit late while others dip. One or two prognosticators think the Tide has already done enough to survive six straight losses.

We think otherwise. If Alabama basketball can beat the Aggies on Thursday, thereby adding another Quadrant 1 win and getting to 18-14, it might be enough. Beat the Aggies and Auburn and the Tide should overcome its five-loss streak.

Can Alabama shake off the bad run and beat two teams it split with in the regular season? It could but it could also easily lose by double-digits in either game. While the loss in College Station was disappointing, the team played with more competitive fire than the preceding losses. The status of Herbert Jones (concussion) will be a big factor on Thursday.

Next: Does Avery have a disconnect with some players?

Here is the SEC Tournament Bracket. It will be a most interesting week in St. Louis as eight or nine SEC teams fight for NCAA Tournament berths.