Alabama is and will always be a football school, but with a few more years Anthony Grant will have the Crimson Tide playing good enough basketball that fans in Tuscaloosa will start to pay the basketball program a little attention. Alabama is 8-9 so far this season, but this team is good. They have played the toughest schedule in the SEC and second-toughest schedule in the NCAA this year. The Crimson Tide have five losses when they trailed by five points or less in the final five minutes to Duke, UCLA, Wichita State, Xavier and Oklahoma. Even though they haven’t pulled off the big upset yet, the rest of the SEC better beware of the Tide; Alabama is on party-pooper patrol for the remainder of the season.
Anthony Grant will not be leading his team to the NCAA Tournament this season, but he very well could derail some SEC opponents from making the Big Dance. Losing to Alabama right now would not hurt a team too badly as they are currently No. 96 in the RPI, but adding another loss to your resume if you are Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, Missouri or Arkansas when you are expecting a win could cost you a chance at making the tournament.
As I wrote earlier, Tennessee already has a less than spectacular NCAA resume, but so do LSU, Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas. If any of those teams lose to Alabama at this point in the season they would need a win they weren’t expected to get if they have any shot at making the tournament. All five of these teams sit on the outside of the top-50 in the RPI, and if you are on the outside of the top-40 then there is no guarantee of making it in the tourney. Missouri has losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt, Tennessee has losses to UTEP and Texas A&M, Arkansas has losses to Georgia and Texas A&M, LSU has a loss to Rhode Island and Ole Miss has losses to Mercer and Mississippi State.
Alabama has already lost at Missouri, but they get the Tigers at home later in February. Tennessee and LSU each only play the Crimson Tide once this season with both of them having to travel to Alabama, and Ole Miss and Arkansas each have a home and away game to play against the Tide.
For Grant to try and turn Alabama into a bigger presence as a basketball school is going to take time and then some more time, but with the money the school generates from football they should end up with some of the best facilities in the country which will help Grant attract a higher level of talent. As of now the Crimson Tide are a good college basketball team. Their record does not reflect that this year, but after they get through crashing a few parties this season they will start to appear on the radars of more fans.