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Crimson Tide chances for a Big Dance return

The Alabama basketball regular season is more than half over. Having lost three of its last four games, we assess the Tide’s NCAA Tournament chances.

The biggest problem for Alabama basketball is not having lost three of its last four games. The biggest problem lies ahead. Four of the Tide’s next seven games are on the road. In the group of seven games, Alabama basketball will be favored in maybe two. Four wins out of the seven would be a strong performance.

Where there is challenge, there is also opportunity. Four of the next seven games give the Crimson Tide a chance for Quad 1 wins. Quad 1 wins are gold in trying to gain an NCAA Tournament bid. The Crimson Tide has one Quad 1 win this season, over the Kentucky Wildcats.

The new NCAA Net Rankings system also values close losses to top teams. Alabama basketball improved its NCAA Net Ranking in the loss to Tennessee on Saturday. The Crimson Tide is currently ranked at No. 50. Below are the current NCAA Net rankings for the next six Tide opponents. The Tide will play Mississippi State twice in the seven-game stretch.

  • Ole Miss – No. 25
  • Baylor – No. 53
  • Mississippi State – No. 27
  • Auburn – No. 23
  • Georgia – No. 103
  • Vandy – No. 91

The NCAA Net Rankings do not match the AP Poll rankings. Tennessee is ranked No. 1 in the latest AP Poll and No. 4 by the NCAA.

Alabama basketball usually plays well in games against top teams. But the Tide has a recurring problem – falling flat against much weaker teams. This season the Crimson Tide has lost to No. 102 Northeastern, No. 111 Texas A&M and No. 120 Georgia State. That pattern means the Tide never gets a breather while chasing an NCAA bid.

The Crimson Tide does have some Quad 2 wins to enhance the resume. They were over No. 45 Murray State, No. 52 Liberty, No. 54 Arizona and No. 75 Penn State. The Missouri win is close to a Quad 2 win as well.

After the seven-game stretch above, the Tide will finish with another run of seven games. The later schedule is not quite as daunting, but none of the games will be easy. Fortunately, only three of the final seven are on the road. The next-to-last regular season game will be in Tuscaloosa against Auburn. Beating the Tigers would give the Tide a big NCAA boost.

It is way too early for bracketology but Jerry Palm currently has the Crimson Tide as the third of the first four teams out. The Tide is joined by Arizona, Baylor and Pittsburgh.

Next: More good than bad in loss to the Vols

Palm currently has Tennessee as a No. 1 seed. The SEC set a conference record last season with eight teams in the NCAA Tournament field. The league was 8-8 in the tournament with two teams, Kentucky and TAMU, making it to the Sweet Sixteen.

 

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