University of Alabama men’s basketball coach Avery Johnson didn’t exactly start lobbying for an NCAA Tournament berth on Monday — but he did respond to a question about the Crimson Tide’s success in big games with a measure of pride when asked about Alabama’s 5-1 record against the current Associated Press Top 25 released on Monday.
“I think it’s a rewards-driven system,” Johnson said. “I think you should be rewarded if you have that type of record against Top 25 teams. I think you should be rewarded if you challenge yourself in your non-conference schedule. We showed that we weren’t afraid to challenge ourselves even if we didn’t always succeed.
“We’ve been rewarded with some great home crowds and we need that to continue (against LSU) on Tuesday night. I know an 8 o’clock tip-off is tough, but we’ve got just three home games left — uno, dos, tres — and the most important one is ‘uno.’”
Alabama’s 78-50 win over Tennessee on Saturday gave the Crimson Tide six “Quadrant 1” wins under theNCAA’s new RPI-based “quadrant” system. UA also has a 3-1 record against the 16 teams in the “early” seed projections released by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee on Sunday.
In the NCAA RPI released on Monday, Alabama moved up to No. 33 nationally, one of seven SEC teams in the Top 35 nationally. No other conference has more than five teams in the RPI Top 35. The Crimson Tide also moved up to No. 43 nationally in the Ken Pomeroy ratings based on advanced metrics.
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Alabama as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament field in his most recent project. CBS analyst Jerry Palm has Alabama as a No. 8 seed. The Bracket Matrix project, which monitors 95 different bracket projections, shows that all 95 currently have Alabama in the field, seeded between No. 5 (by firstandfan.com) to No. 10 by several projections.
Alabama last made the NCAA field in 2013.