Monday, February 20, 2017

Attrition and Bubble Talk

Nick King will miss the rest of the season after receiving some bad test results on his infected lung.  Hopefully he can get well and come back to help us next season.

Brandon Austin is out the rest of the year with a back injury.  I suspect he's played his last game in a Crimson Tide uniform.  By all accounts he was a great practice player, but it never translated into games.  I wish him the best, wherever he lands.

Shannon Hale is suspended for the remainder of the regular season.  This is disappointing but not surprising from the senior.  Perhaps he will work out his issues and finally play to his potential and help us in the SEC tournament and beyond.  More likely, he's done and this is addition by subtraction.
Obviously none of these guys have contributed much this season, but it does hurt us from a depth standpoint, as now we are down to just 9 bodies that we can put on the floor and remain competitive.

 Meanwhile, Jerry Palm has us in his latest projected bracket as a first four team playing Rhode Island in Dayton for the 11 seed in the East.  Before you get too excited, Joe Lunardi, who was actually more accurate last year, does not even have us in the first 8 out.  Personally, I do not think we would be in if the tournament started today, but I think if we can finish 3-1 and pick up another solid win or two in the SEC tournament we will have a chance.  I don't think a 4-0 finish would make us a lock, but I think we would be more likely in than out.

Our current RPI is 74.  We need to win out to get it into the 50's.  The good news is we have played well on the road, with 5 true road wins.  We have 2 top 50 wins (for now) on the resume.  We've also managed to avoid bad losses.  We only have one loss outside of the top 100 and it was on the road.  The bad news is we didn't do anything out of conference, and we are 0-3 against the RPI top 25.  Our strength of schedule is a respectable 65th, but not great.  It's a weak bubble this year.  There simply aren't as many good mid-majors out there as we have seen in recent years.  The bottom line is we have little to no margin for error, but there is still a chance.  Generally speaking, we need auburn to stay in the top 100, Vandy to stay in the top 50, South Carolina to stop the bleeding, and our non-conference opponents to finish strong and other bubble teams like Rhode Island, Ole Miss, Wichita State, Providence, TCU, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Syracuse, Indiana, etc. to lose.

Last season when bracketologists started including us in their discussions I posted a daily "bubble watch" recapping our current position and what we should be rooting for in that day's games.  I'm not going to do that this year because: 1) I don't have the time right now 2) I still think it's a bit of a long shot at this point and 3) we seemed to tank right after I started doing that last year.  That said, if someone else wants to do something similar, feel free to do so.

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