It doesn’t look good, but Alabama women’s basketball still has a slight chance of making NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN.com’s women’s basketball Bracketology expert Charlie Creme.
The Crimson Tide is outside of Creme’s latest bracket projection, and UA is not listed as one of the eight teams closest to claiming an at-large spot.
With one game remaining before the conference tournament, Creme sees the Crimson Tide’s rating percentage index (RPI) as a giant hole in the team’s postseason resume. Alabama’s current RPI is 85, which fell a few spots after its loss to Georgia on Thursday night.
Alabama at No. 24 LSU
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La.
Records: Alabama 17-11 (7-8 SEC), LSU 18-8 (10-5 SEC)
Radio: 93.3 FM
RPI serves as the selection committee’s view of the rankings because the committee members do not use the AP Top 25 or the USA TODAY Sports women’s basketball coaches poll when making decisions on seeding and at-large bids.
“There’s no historical precedent for a team whose RPI is in the 80s making the tournament as an at-large. It just hasn’t happened, it hasn’t been close to that. Nobody outside of the mid-60s has ever made the tournament as an at-large.”
The NCAA will take a look at teams that are past the usual RPI range for an at-large bid, but it is unlikely anything will change after years of valuing RPI as one of the most important parts to a team’s resume.
“(The game against Georgia) could have been an opportunity to change that number,” Creme said. “I think they were 82 (in RPI) going into that game, and (a win) might have got them into the 70s. Then you see a couple of wins in the SEC Tournament, now maybe you’re in a better spot conversationally. But right now, they’re just not.”
Alabama has one SEC game left in the regular season. Coach Kristy Curry has mentioned that teams from the SEC have made the NCAA Tournament with a conference record of 7-9 in the past.
Last year one of those teams was Auburn, who made the NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed with a losing conference record.
“I think last year’s Auburn team had an RPI in the 40s if I remember right,” Creme said. “… That’s a massive difference in terms of the committee throwing a blanket on teams and then grouping them to start having a conversation about them. The blanket barely reaches to where Alabama is now.”
Alabama’s win against Tennessee is just about all it has to make its resume intriguing, according to Creme. The Crimson Tide’s win against LSU early in conference play was also a strong victory, but he doesn’t see that as being enough.
The Crimson Tide will finish the regular season on the road at No. 24 LSU, and will face Kentucky in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Should Alabama take care of the Wildcats, next in line will be undefeated No. 2 Mississippi State.
Winning all three of those games looks like the only way Alabama can make the NCAA Tournament in Creme’s opinion.
“LSU would be great,” Creme said. “A road win against a top 30 team, that would be huge. That would give them two wins over LSU and a road win at Tennessee. That would be substantial, but I still don’t think it’s enough. I think they would have to upset Mississippi State in order to get in at this point.”