I haven’t followed every NCAA basketball team this season. How can I? I am but a single man who has basic cable in a student apartment who has other duties outside of watching every basketball game. There’s just been one question, nagging at me as the season has gone on:
Where is the love for Alabama Basketball?
If you’re just a casual fan, this may come as a bit of a shock. Alabama has a basketball team? Indeed they do, and they are by far one of the most underrated teams in the sport right now. Sure, it doesn’t matter right now considering Conference play is just around the corner. It just irks me that such a good team is being overlooked by the nation, especially by the AP Poll.
Now, I have to address my Alabama bias. Yes, I love the Crimson Tide. I go to school here at the University of Alabama, and I’ll bleed Crimson until the day I die. With that being said, I want to assure whoever is reading this that what I’m saying is based on statistical evidence. I’m trying hard to not let my bias interfere with this, and for people in schools that are being overlooked like Alabama this is about you too. This same argument can be applied to your team as well. With that out of the way:
As of this post, the AP Poll currently has Kentucky at number 4. Now, that’s likely to change given that Kentucky lost to Ohio State, but they’re still probably going to be ranked. They have the same amount of losses as Alabama at the time of this post (2). Let’s compare the two losses: Kentucky has lost to UCLA and Ohio State. Both respectable teams to be sure, this is not a knock against a Kentucky team expected to be rebuilding. But if we compare that to Alabama’s losses (Xavier and Dayton), you can see that Alabama’s losses are stronger than Kentucky’s losses. Xavier is a top ten team, and Dayton is on the threshold of the top 25, while UCLA is also on that threshold and Ohio State is mere cannon fodder this season.
“Well, okay” you might say. “But what about the teams they’ve beaten? Surely Kentucky has that nailed.” Well, the schedule says otherwise. Alabama has beaten two powerhouse teams away from home (Wichita State and Notre Dame, both of which got votes by the AP Poll last week) and Kentucky beat Duke at home. Duke is pretty good, but that’s the only solid, good team they beat. And while Notre Dame isn’t solidly good, there’s a reason many experts expected them to go dancing before the season began.
My point isn’t to disparage Kentucky. They’re absolutely an amazing team that deserves the recognition for their good. My point is that there are teams that are good, like really really good. Teams like South Carolina, who thrash the teams they’re supposed to thrash (They’re 10-0 by the way. That’s not something you see non-Top 25 teams do.) They’re ranked 30th in the FPI. Guess who’s behind them? Duke. There are teams like Alabama, who are actually good but don’t get the recognition they deserve. Alabama is ranked 22nd in the FPI, but they haven’t received a single vote in either the AP or USA Today Polls. At least South Carolina is ranked in the USA Today Poll and has several votes in the AP Poll.
Alabama at least deserves some recognition for the gauntlet that they’ve run through this season so far. Avery Johnson deserves a ton of credit for how far he’s brought this team in only a year, from NIT nobodies to contenders for March Madness. It’s in the stats: this is a worthy team that deserves to dance far more than some teams that the people in the AP Poll are voting for. And if this team somehow manages to knock off Kentucky January 9th, everyone else might be shocked, but I wouldn’t be. They’re that good this season.