Stuart McNair

Alabama men’s basketball enters final week of regular season play

Alabama still has outside chance of earning double bye

Have Southeastern Conference defenses gotten better, or has Alabama’s offense gotten worse? Whether it’s a Crimson Tide funk or teams like Missouri suddenly becoming defensive demons, there’s little reason to expect things to get better. In three of Bama’s last four games, the Tide has failed to reach the 20-point mark in the first 20 minutes of “action.”

Alabama went into the four-game stretch run to the end of regular season men’s basketball play with an outside chance of making the NCAA Tournament field, provided the Tide could win its way into the top four teams for the SEC Tournament. Mathematically, there are two positives for Bama.

One, it is still possible for Alabama to make that top four (and earn the double bye that goes with it) for the SEC Tournament that begins March 8 in Nashville. True, it is highly unlikely this happens.

Two, Bama’s 9-7 win assures the Tide will not have to play on that first day of the tournament. The bottom four aren’t assured, but Auburn, Missississippi State, Missouri, and LSU can’t reach nine wins.

Alabama’s chance to finish above .500 in SEC play has been threatened by its last two outings, a five-point home loss to Georgia in which Bama scored 18 points in the first half, and a three-point road loss to Texas A&M in which the Tide had 19 first half points.

Here’s what remains for the Tide in the final week of the season:

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Alabama will host Ole Miss which has the same 9-7 conference record as Alabama at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Coleman Coliseum.

The Tide will finish the year at Tennessee (7-9) at noon Saturday.

As for that mathematical chance to make the top four for the SEC Tournament, Coach Avery Johnson’s Alabama would have to win both its games and South Carolina would have to lose a home game to Mississippi State and a road game at Ole Miss.

Bama can’t do anything about South Carolina’s performance, but it would be encouraging if the Tide could somehow show an offensive pulse for a week.

As for beyond the SEC Tournament, it’s reasonable to suggest that Alabama has played like a piece of NIT.

Here are the SEC Men’s Basketball Standings and remaining games going to the final week of regular season play:

Kentucky 14-2 (Vanderbilt, at Texas A&M)

Florida 13-3 (Arkansas, at Vanderbilt)

Arkansas 11-5 (at Florida, Georgia)

South Carolina 11-5 (Mississippi State, at Ole Miss)

Alabama 9-7 (Ole Miss, at Tennessee)

Ole Miss 9-7 (at Alabama, South Carolina)

Vanderbilt 9-7 (at Kentucky, Florida)

Georgia 8-8 (Auburn, at Arkansas)

Texas A&M 7-9 (at Missouri, Kentucky)

Tennessee 7-9 (at LSU, Alabama)

Auburn 6-10 (at Georgia, Missouri)

Mississippi State 5-11 (at South Carolina, LSU)

Missouri 2-14 (Texas A&M, at Auburn)

LSU 1-15 (Tennessee, at Mississippi State)

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