A Look Ahead In Basketball

While most Alabama basketball fans (as well as coaches and players) are correctly concentrating on Wednesday night's game against Auburn in Coleman Coliseum, it's possible to take a little peek into the future.

Alabama is the only Southeastern Conference team that knows its seeding in the upcoming SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Alabama is the number one seed from the Western Division, meaning the Crimson Tide will play its first game on Friday, March 8, at 3:15 p.m. EST (2:15 p.m. CST with regional television coverage by Jefferson Pilot).

Bama will play the winner of a game between the number 5 seed from the Western Division (which will be Arkansas, Auburn or LSU) and the number four seed from the East (which will be South Carolina, Tennessee or Vanderbilt). If Alabama wins that game, the Tide will probably play the number two team from the East, which will be Florida, Kentucky, or Georgia. Alabama defeated all of those in regular season play (as Bama beat every team in the East this year), including defeating Kentucky and Georgia on the road and defeating Florida last Saturday to win the SEC regular season championship. That game will be on Saturday, March 9, at 3:15 p.m. EST (2:15 p.m. CST with regional television coverage by J-P).

The SEC Tournament Championship Game will be Sunday, March 10, at 1 p.m. EST (noon central with national television coverage by CBS).

While Alabama is number one seed in the West, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are still fighting for the second seed.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee puts a lot of stock in the RPI rating. Alabama's current average is 91.9. Oddly, playing against Auburn hurts that average by the slimmest of margins since Auburn's rating is 92.

Alabama is the nation's only team with 10 wins over top 50 teams.

The latest projections have Alabama as a number two seed in the South Region (with Duke the number one seed). It really doesn't matter which region the Tide gets into because there will be good teams in all regions. It would help to have the highest possible seed. And it would help Tide fans to stay in the South.

Actually, Alabama could reach number one seed status by beating Auburn and then defeating Ole Miss in Oxford on Sunday (1 p.m. CST on CBS) and then winning the first two games in the SEC Tournament. (The SEC Championship Game will not be a factor since the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will complete its work while that game is in progress.

The projection says Bama's first two rounds in the South will be at Greenville, South Carolina, on March 14 and 16. (There are also first and second round games at St. Louis.) The South Regional Tournament will be at Rupp Arena in Lexington (where Alabama is 1-0 this year) on March 21-23. Other regionals are at San Jose, California; Syracuse, New York; and Madison, Wisconsin. The Final Four is at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with semifinal games March 30 and the national championship game on April 1.

Looking just past Auburn, Alabama will probably get a hint of how far this year's Crimson Tide can go in the NCAA Tournament. If Alabama cannot beat Ole Miss in Oxford (Bama was a 20-point winner over the Rebels in Tuscaloosa, 79-59), then Alabama is probably not going to make a great charge in the NCAA Tournament.

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