Alabama Basketball: ‘Big Dance’ thoughts on Tide and other SEC teams


Crimson Tide fans have a wide range of opinions on the NCAA Tournament. Alabama basketball fans balance anticipation, shaded by anxiety. Not all Alabama football fans are interested, with some writing off Crimson Tide hoops during a frustrating regular season.

Staunch supporters of Alabama basketball appreciate what Nate Oats is building. A rebuilt winning culture for Alabama Basketball was always going to take time. Nate Oats has made progress and there are reasons why that progress should continue.

With Alabama Basketball – there is always a but …

But – and with Alabama Basketball, there is always a but – the Tide may not ‘dance’ past Friday afternoon. Scanning several NCAA Tournament grids from college basketball pundits shows either Notre Dame or Rutgers most often picked to win over the Crimson Tide.

There are good reasons why the two teams are in a ‘play-in’ game. Neither was a Big Dance lock. Take away the win over Kentucky on Dec. 11 and the Irish resume is not NCAA worthy. The Wildcats then were far less than they became later in the season. Notre Dame did beat North Carolina and Miami but they also lost early in the season to Texas A&M.

The Aggies should have made the NCAA Tournament field. An argument can be made TAMU was more deserving than Notre Dame and Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights had an Alabama -like season. In 11 games from late January until late February, Rutgers was 5-6. Their wins were Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois. The losses were to Minnesota, Maryland, Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan and Wisconsin. Early in the season, they had bad losses to Depaul, Lafayette and U Mass.

Ken Pomeroy’s solid algorithm ranks Notre Dame No. 52 and Rutgers No. 74. He has the Crimson Tide No. 25 and SEC teams not in the Big Dance, Texas A&M at No. 43, Mississippi State at No. 45, Florida, No. 56 and Vanderbilt No. 65.

The Crimson Tide should beat Notre Dame or Rutgers. It can also lose to both.

With a win, Alabama will almost certainly face one of the best defensive teams in college basketball, the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Pomeroy has Texas Tech as the nation’s No. 9 team and the No. 1 team in his adjusted defense calculation. Nate Oats’ team could play well and still lose to the Red Raiders. If the Tide played poorly, it could be ugly. And, less likely but not impossible, a hot-shooting Crimson Tide could take down a Red Raiders team that is not great offensively.

What about other SEC, Big Dance teams? Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas could make deep runs. The Wildcats are Final Four capable. The Vols might be as well. Auburn is a lesser team outside of Auburn Arena, but the Tigers should reach the Sweet Sixteen. Arkansas has a tricky opener against Vermont, but the Razorbacks should get to the second week. Who knows what LSU, without Will Wade and one of the assistants, will do.

A printable NCAA Tournament bracket is available here.

Next. Conjuring up hope for March Madness. dark

Something interesting to follow is how the Big Ten does, compared to the Big 12 and the SEC. The B1G got nine teams in while the other two conferences received six bids. Don’t be surprised if the SEC’s winning percentage tops the Big Ten.