The Yellowhammer State’s two high major basketball programs are taking divergent paths as the regular season approaches its end.
Alabama continues to look like one of the top teams in the sport while Auburn finds itself squarely on the bubble. Now, with Selection Sunday less than two weeks away, BetAlabama.com developed odds to forecast which seeds the Crimson Tide and Tigers might receive.
There is no legal Alabama sports betting, but this is what the hypothetical odds determined:
Alabama Potential Seeding Scenarios
Basketball has long been an afterthought in Tuscaloosa, but this year’s Alabama team is making its presence felt.
The Crimson Tide currently rank 2nd in both the AP Poll and the NET and have spent the last seven weeks ranked inside the AP Top 5, reaching No. 1 for only the third week in school history two weeks ago. (Alabama’s only previous time ranking first came in consecutive weeks in December of 2002).
Alabama is on the verge of making a third consecutive tournament for the first time since Mark Gottfried led them to five consecutive berths between 2002 and 2006. But the Crimson Tide have far bigger plans than just a causal tournament appearance. Despite 23 previous bids, the school never has advanced to a Final Four and owns just one Elite Eight berth (2004).
However, Alabama also never has been seeded like they are expected to be this year. The Crimson Tide received a 2-seed in the 1987, 2002 and 2021 NCAA tournaments, but this year’s team would earn the first 1-seed in program history if everything holds to form.
When the selection committee revealed its early bracket Feb. 18, Alabama not only ranked as a 1-seed, but as the No. 1 overall team on the S-curve. That bodes well for the Crimson Tide, as the No. 1 overall seed from the early reveal has finished as the No. 1 overall seed on Selection Sunday every year since the committee started announcing the top 16 teams midseason in 2017. Alabama also currently sits atop the seed list on the consensus bracket at Bracketmatrix.com.
But even with these positive indicators, Alabama has fierce competition for that first overall spot from Houston and Kansas. All three teams register as one seeds on all 89 brackets at Bracketmatrix. However, while the Cougars rank ahead of the Crimson Tide in the AP Poll, the Jayhawks likely have the better chance to displace Alabama from the top of the bracket.
Alabama owns a December head-to-head victory over Houston and the Cougars claim just four Quad 1 wins compared to nine for the Crimson Tide. But Kansas makes these numbers look paltry, as the Jayhawks possess 15 Quad 1 victories, five more than anyone else in the country. Predictive metrics like Houston and Alabama more than Kansas, but it is hard to deny the quality of the Jayhawks resumé.
Even if Alabama fell behind a Houston or Kansas, the body of work overwhelmingly suggests the Crimson Tide still will get a 1-seed. They have avoided bad losses all year and close the season with two top 40 games, a home contest vs. Auburn on Wednesday and a trip to Texas A&M on Saturday.
Losing those might sting a little from a pride perspective, but even if they lost both and made an early exit from the SEC Tournament, there is only so far a 25-4 team can fall when only 11 power conference teams have seven losses or fewer.
Here is a BetAlabama.com story on Alabama basketball earlier this season.
Auburn’s Potential Seeding Scenarios
Auburn has plunged into a precarious position. After starting the season 16-3, the Tigers have dropped seven of their last 10 games, leaving them as a projected 9-seed at Bracketmatrix right now.
Auburn boasts decent computer numbers, ranking 36th in the NET and 29th in KenPom, but its resumé is a bit lacking comparatively. The Tigers are just 2-8 in Quad 1 games and own an unsightly Quad 3 loss to Georgia. Every team ranked ahead of them in the NET has a higher winning percentage vs. Quad 1 competition except for Utah State, which sports an identical .200 winning percentage.
The bubble is not particularly strong this year and more condensed than usual, which benefits Auburn, but the Tigers’ remaining schedule is a double-edged sword. Auburn ends the regular season with two massive Quad 1 opportunities at Alabama and vs. Tennessee, but KenPom gives them just a 17 percent chance and 40 percent chance of victory, respectively.
Securing a win in either of those games likely punches Auburn’s ticket to the dance for good, but the Tigers’ odds of losing both games is essentially equal to their odds of winning one (49.8 percent vs. 50.2 percent). Were they to drop both, Auburn’s NCAA Tournament chances would then come down to performance in the SEC Tournament and the results of other bubble teams across the country.
At 9-7 in league play, the Tigers would hold the fifth seed in the conference tournament were the season to end today. This would net them a single bye and a date with the winner of the 12-13 game (likely Ole Miss or South Carolina) on March 9. However, given their remaining schedule — and the fact Missouri and Vanderbilt are also 9-7 in the SEC — expecting Auburn to maintain this positioning looks like a tough ask.
Falling down the standings likely would put the Tigers in a tougher first matchup (though they are not in danger of missing out on a bye), but that could be a boost to their resumé. Any game Auburn plays in the conference tournament against one of the bottom four teams in the league will be a Quad 3 or Quad 4 matchup, meaning a win will not affect much and a loss would be devastating.
While the immediate focus remains on beating either Alabama or Tennessee, earning some quality wins in Nashville next week also would help Auburn move towards the middle of the bracket.
However, if the Tigers avoid losing out, they should be safely in the field. That, of course, might be easier said than done.