Alabama Basketball: Tide hoops ranking for ’20-21 season depends on source

With the best Alabama basketball roster in many seasons, how does the Tide rate in SEC?

How good will Alabama basketball be in the 2020-21 season? Answers vary widely depending on the source. Opinions vary less on the talent level of Nate Oats’ roster. Even optimistic Alabama basketball fans must admit most of the Crimson Tide roster is unproven.

Before Bama Hammer shares a belief of where the Crimson Tide ranks in the SEC, consider some other opinions.

Back in April, college basketball pundit, Jeff Goodman picked a preseason Top 50. He chose the Alabama Crimson Tide as the No. 18 team in the nation. Even more surprising, Goodman had Alabama basketball as the highest-rated SEC team on his list.

Goodman’s ranking has many Crimson Tide fans excited about next season’s prospects. A few of us want to believe him, but remember last preseason, when Goodman ranked the Crimson Tide at No. 11. Despite last season’s 16-15 record overall, and 8-10 in the SEC, Goodman remains bullish on the Crimson Tide.

More recently, another national, college basketball pundit had a much different take on the Tide. Back in March, Jon Rothstein published a preseason Top 45. A few SEC teams made the cut. The Crimson Tide did not. Rothstein updates his ratings as players transfer in and out. A few days ago, he published a deep dive into SEC Power Rankings. Alabama basketball fans are not pleased. Rothstein has the Crimson Tide at No. 8 in the SEC. The SEC teams ahead of the Tide are Tennessee (No. 1); Kentucky (No. 2); LSU (No. 3); Florida (No. 4); Arkansas (No. 5); South Carolina (No. 6) and Auburn (No. 7).

Comparing the two sets of rankings is easy. Picking the most accurate is tough. Every team and its rankings must be evaluated. Goodman has nine SEC teams in his Top 50. Rothstein has six in his Top 45. Check out the two lists below. Only SEC teams are listed.

Jeff Goodman Preseason Top 50

  • No. 18 – Alabama Crimson Tide
  • No. 20 – Tennessee Vols
  • No. 21 – Florida Gators
  • No. 24 – Kentucky Wildcats
  • No. 28 – Arkansas Razorbacks
  • No. 38 – Auburn Tigers
  • No. 43 – Ole Miss
  • No. 45 – LSU Bengal Tigers
  • No. 50 – South Carolina Gamecocks

Jon Rothstein Preseason Top 45

  • No. 13 – Tennessee Vols
  • No. 15 – Kentucky Wildcats
  • No. 21 – LSU Bengal Tigers
  • No. 27 – Florida Gators
  • No. 33 – Arkansas Razorbacks
  • No. 36 – South Carolina Gamecocks
  • Not Ranked – Alabama Crimson Tide; Auburn; Ole Miss

Looking for some consistency in the two lists produces just four teams: Tennessee; Kentucky; Florida and Arkansas

What matters most to Alabama basketball fans is which list best predicts the Crimson Tide. Throw Rothstein’s SEC Power Ranking into that review.

Optimism shared by many Alabama basketball fans is driven by the recruiting success Nate Oats has achieved. Based on the 247Sports Composite, the Crimson Tide had the No. 12, 2020 class. Not included in those rankings are transfer, Jordan Bruner, and returning from sitting out or injury, Jahvon Quinerly, James Rojas and Juwan Gary. As far as new roster players for 2020-21, the Crimson Tide easily has better than the equivalent of a Top 10 class.

Rothstein’s SEC Power Ranking with the Crimson Tide at No. 8 included John Petty not going to the NBA. Goodman projected Petty as a tossup to return.

How wrong are either or both of the pundits? It is easy to share Goodman’s optimism, but the Tide above Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky is a stretch. Rothstein’s take on the Tide might make more sense for one reason. For all the talent on the Crimson Tide roster, it is largely unproven talent. Beyond Petty, Herbert Jones and Jaden Shackelford, the Crimson Tide has still unknown assets in Jahvon Quinerly and Jordan Bruner. The bench will be deep and may include players making a quick impact. Quick does mean immediate. But with so much bench talent, the Crimson Tide should be much-improved in the season’s second half.

Nate Oats will need all his skills to shape this influx of players into a winner. He will also need time. The result might even match Goodman’s take.