Right from the top, let’s be clear Alabama Basketball is not an NCAA ‘bubble’ team. But, the protracted slide by the Crimson Tide has had too few points for encouragement. However, the Tide’s ‘slide’ is charted, the turnaround from earlier in the season has elicited disappointment, frustration and anger from Crimson Tide fans.
After starting the season going 8-1, with wins over heavyweights Gonzaga and Houston, the Crimson Tide has gone 6-13 since. Four of the six wins were resume builders; Tennessee, Florida, LSU and especially Baylor. Three of the losses were embarrassments; Memphis, Missouri and Georgia. In the two most recent losses, the Crimson Tide was outclassed by Auburn and Kentucky.
It is hard to remember another Crimson Tide team starting out so well and falling so rapidly. But there is good news. Nate Oats scheduled well and it is paying off for the Crimson Tide. Using Jerry Palm’s most recent Bracketology as a guide, the Crimson Tide has beaten eight, currently projected NCAA Tournament teams. In that eight are a 5-seed (Tennessee), two 3-seeds (Baylor and Houston) and a No. 1 seed (Gonzaga).
Three of the Tide’s nine losses have come from two teams with legitimate Final Four potential; Auburn and Kentucky. Three more of the losses came against teams currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament; Iona, Davidson and Mississippi State.
According to Jerry Palm, the Crimson Tide is currently projected as a No. 7 seed. Being well outside the ‘bubble’ despite nine losses is a pretty impressive feat.
How Many Wins Must Alabama Basketball Get?
Let’s consider a number on the low end that gets the Crimson Tide an invite to the Big Dance. An assumption is the Crimson Tide will not win the auto-qualifier by repeating as SEC Tournament Champion.
Depending on what happens over the next eight regular-season games, what the Tide does in the SEC Tournament may not matter for an at-large bid. A little history about at-large bids and team resumes is the 1991 Villanova team went to the Big Dance with a 16-14 record. The Wildcats won a first-round game over Princeton. In 1990, Kansas State made the field with a 17-14 record. Georgia got in with a 16-14 record in 2001, after losing their opening game in the SEC Tournament. Many more teams have received at-large bids with 14 losses while having 17 to 19 wins.
Alabama should make the NCAA field at 17-14, at the end of the regular season. That means three wins in the next eight games. A loss to lowly Ole Miss (NCAA NET No. 104) Wednesday night or a later, home loss to No. 105 South Carolina might mean the Tide is not safe at 17-14 and needs 18 wins. But at either 13 or 14 losses, the Crimson Tide becomes a ‘bubble’ team.
Reaching 17-14, followed by an opening game loss in the SEC Tournament, taking the record to 17-15 is probably not good enough. That would mean losing eight of the last 11 games played, and only six wins over the last two months of the season. One SEC Tournament win, finishing 18-15, would become the floor for an at-large bid.
What will happen is anyone’s guess. My guess is Nate Oats’ team will win at least four of its next eight games and get an at-large bid, no matter what happens in the SEC Tournament.