Before every Alabama basketball game, Bama Hammer offers up a game prediction. A peek at a few popular algorithms provides clues as to how the game will ‘probably’ go. But as good as analytics are, the game of college basketball is often unpredictable.
It is a sport not always separated by ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in roster talent. Upsets happen for many reasons and anyone who claims to know when they will happen is kidding themselves.
One example of how crazy the 2021-22 season has been, happened Tuesday night in Knoxville. Exactly one month earlier, the Kentucky Wildcats destroyed Tennessee in Lexington, winning by 28 points, 107-79. On Tuesday night the Vols beat the Cats 76-63. That is a 41-point reversal. If anything, Tuesday’s score was misleading. Tennessee clearly dominated the game, playing with an intensity and physical toughness the Cats could not match.
John Calipari’s summation was direct and honest.
"They punched us in the mouth, and we didn’t do the same to them."
Those words are similar to comments made by Nate Oats after some Alabama Basketball losses this season. They also point to a widely-held premise in college basketball, that fortune favors home teams who physically dominate opponents. Auburn is but one of many examples.
Even so, the Tennessee win over the Cats was an upset. There have been a high number of upsets this season. Nate Oats’ Alabama basketball team has been involved in several, including the wins over Gonzaga and Baylor and the losses to Missouri and Georgia.
Without digressing into the reasons why; so far this season, the inconsistent Crimson Tide is almost as likely to lose a game as win one. That might not bode well for the NCAA Tournament.
The Crimson Tide has been bounced early a few times in its NCAA Tournament. Going back to its first ‘Big Dance’ experience in 1975, the Tide has lost its opening game, six times. The flip side is the Tide’s 14 first-round wins. That and other Crimson Tide NCAA Tournament history can be read here.
Will this season’s NCAA Tournament be more volatile than normal? The history of success by seeds 1-11, is listed below.
- 11-seeds win 37.4% of all their NCAA Tournament games
- 10-seeds win 38.5%
- 9-seeds win 36.8%
- 8-seeds win 43%
- 7-seeds win 47.3%
- 6-seeds win 53.2%
- 5-seeds win 52.9%
- 4-seeds win 59%
- 3-seeds win 64%
- 2-seeds win 70%
- 1-seeds win 78.8%
Note: Data provided by mcubed.net
Another set of interesting data comes from bracketresearch.com. Over the last 32 NCAA Tournaments, a No. 1 seed has become the National Champion 64% of the time. The success rate dips to 14% for 2-seeds and 11% for 3-seeds; below that it plummets.
The outliers are 7-seed U Conn in 2014 and 8-seed Villanova in 1985.
Would a less predictable NCAA Tournament favor Alabama Basketball?
Given the Crimson Tide will not be in the 1-seed to 4-seed range (unless it shockingly wins the SEC Tournament), the answers are yes – maybe – and who knows.
Do more teams have a chance this season to make the Final Four? Some college basketball experts think so. Jay Bilas is one of them.
It has been a crazy season. Recently, six AP Top 10 ten teams were upset by unranked teams – in the same week. One result of such unpredictability is seeding decisions may be tougher than normal.
Saturday could be a big day for the Crimson Tide. An upset over Kentucky in Lexington would be a shocker, even in this ‘upset’ season.