Alabama Basketball: On double-bye chances and needing a walk-on


On Saturday night, Alabama Basketball got another must-win. Losing to Missouri again, on its home court, would not have destroyed the Crimson Tide’s NCAA expectations, but it would have damaged eventual seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

Thanks to Nate Oats’ bold scheduling and multiple resume-building wins, the Crimson Tide is a near-lock for an NCAA Tournament bid. Even at double-digit losses for the regular season, the Tide should earn a bid in the 5-7 seed range. The greatest risk to that result would be bad losses going forward. Missouri at home would have been one. So would be the next game, in Athens against Georgia, and later, the games against Ole Miss and South Carolina.

With January winding down, Alabama basketball fans don’t have to sweat the Tide being a bubble team. Instead what is important is seeding in both the SEC Tournament and the Big Dance. The Crimson Tide is currently tied for fifth place in the SEC. Check out the standings below.

  • No. 1 – Auburn 7-0; 18-1 overall
  • No. 2 – Kentucky 5-2; 15-4 overall
  • No. 3 (tie) Texas A&M 4-2 and 15-4 – Mississippi State  4-2 and 13-5
  • No. 5 (tie) Arkansas 4-3 and 14-5; Tennessee 4-3 and 13-5; Alabama 4-3 and 13-6
  • No. 8 Florida 3-3; 12-6
  • No. 9 LSU 3-4; 15-4
  • No. 10 (tie) South Carolina 2-4 and 11-7; Vanderbilt 2-4 and 10-8; Missouri 2-4 and 8-10
  • No. 13 Ole Miss 1-5; 9-9 overall
  • No. 14 Georgia 0-6; 5-14 overall

Alabama has seven remaining games against teams it is battling with for an SEC Tournament double-bye.

In the current NCAA NET rankings, four SEC teams are ranked higher than the Crimson Tide. They are Auburn at No. 5; Kentucky at No. 9; LSU at No. 10 and Tennessee at No. 11. The Crimson Tide is at No. 21. The next highest-ranked, six-loss team to Alabama is Florida, at No. 34. Other SEC teams are Mississippi State at No. 44; Arkansas at No. 53 and Texas A&M at No. 60.

Even more important than seeding is how good can the Tide be in March. An honest answer to that question is no one, not even Nate Oats knows. A summary of the season so far is the Tide can play up to or down to any team. Unless that changes, the Tide is likely to be a hit-or-miss tournament team.

Alabama Basketball needed an intensity boost

The Missouri home game is another example of Alabama failing to deliver 40 minutes of intensity. Certainly, the win was a feel-good story from walk-on, Britton Johnson’s three minutes of play. The substitution was an effective message sent by Nate Oats to the rest of the team. Johnson responded with immediate intensity, providing two points and three offensive rebounds.

In a similar manner, the effort and toughness brought by James Rojas was a game-changer. Not playing Rojas and Johnson against Missouri almost assuredly would have meant a Tide loss. Will the requirement of every minute intensity sink in for others on the roster? If it does the rest of the season can bring good results. If not, tournament season could be an unpleasant experience.

Next. Second-half comeback sparked victory.. dark

Will the Crimson Tide play down to Georgia on Tuesday? If it does, expect Nate Oats to call on Johnson and maybe other little-used players.