Why Alabama basketball will and will not get an NCAA bid with TAMU win


Will the Alabama basketball ‘Bubble’ blossom into an NCAA bid with an SEC Tournament win on Thursday against the Aggies?

There is not much optimism or enthusiasm among Alabama basketball fans for the SEC Tournament. Despite the close game in College Station, few fans expect a Crimson Tide victory on Thursday. As implausible as it may seem, even after five straight losses, a Tide win over the Aggies has a fair chance to result in an NCAA bid.

For the Alabama basketball fans still paying attention to the 2018 season, let’s review why a win over TAMU will and will not lock up an NCAA bid. Over the past several seasons the NCAA Selection Committee has focused on rewarding teams that play difficult schedules. Conference win-loss records no longer matter and a full season body of work matters more than late-season trends. All of which give a 17-14 Alabama basketball team a chance it would not have had a few years ago.

A win over TAMU will or will not be enough

The ‘will not’ result is easier to explain. Win on Thursday and lose on Friday and the Tide finishes 18-15. More than half of 12 current ‘Bubble’ teams would have to lose their next games for the Tide to progress into the NCAA field. The best guess of some of those Bubble teams comes from Joe Lunardi: Texas; USC; UCLA; Notre Dame; Marquette; Louisville; and Oklahoma State.

The big risk at 18-15 is explained by Jerry Palm. In the last 25 years, no team has made the NCAA field at less than four games above .500. Vanderbilt did get in with 15 losses last season but the Commodores had 19 wins and a higher RPI than this year’s Tide.

So much for the doom and gloom, let’s consider why a Thursday win will be enough for an NCAA bid. The reasons are Strength of Schedule (SOS) and Quadrant 1 wins. Alabama basketball after Thursday or Friday will have a SOS of no lower than No. 5 among 351 Division 1 teams. Thanks to Avery’s aggressive out-of-conference scheduling and a great season for other SEC schools, a SOS of 5 diminishes a 14-loss blemish.

Quadrant 1 Wins

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. Quadrant 1 wins are home wins against Top 30 teams, wins against Top 50 teams at a neutral site and wins against Top 75 teams on the road. The Tide has five Quadrant 1 wins and another one (Oklahoma) just outside the top Quadrant.

Among a group of 12 Bubble teams, only Texas and Oklahoma State have as many Quadrant 1 wins. The Tide’s Quadrant 1 record of 5-6 is better than the Longhorns and Cowboys who have 5-10, Quadrant 1 records. Next closest to the Tide are Marquette and USC with four Quadrant 1 wins. Syracuse, UCLA and Penn State only have three Quadrant 1 wins.

A win over TAMU will give the Tide six Quadrant 1 wins. Combine that with the high SOS and at 18-15 (assuming a loss to Auburn) and the Tide goes Dancing.

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Can Alabama basketball scratch and claw its way to a win on Thursday? The Aggies are playing for NCAA seeding; the Tide, for NCAA survival. Perhaps that difference will be enough for an Alabama basketball victory.