After leaving the Georgia Dome today, we clearly saw who the two best teams in the conference are—when each kicks it into another gear. Today, both Florida and Kentucky showed why they are serious Final Four contenders.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt and Tennessee are sizing up their Dance shoes for a long waltz; there are two bachelors that are still trying to find a ticket.
The odd thing is, I thought yesterday we settled this; but apparently, we haven’t. Let’s run through the resumes of Alabama and Georgia. All stats are using the CBSSports RPI.
Alabama (21-11, 13-5) SEC Western Division Champion
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 4-4
W: Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia (twice)
L: Kentucky, Florida, Purdue, Vanderbilt
Does Alabama deserve a at-large bid?
Bad Losses Outside of Top 100: Four
Seton Hall, Arkansas, Providence, Iowa
Georgia (21-12, 10-8)
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-9
W: Kentucky, UAB, Tennessee
L: Notre Dame, Florida (twice), Kentucky, Vanderbilt (twice), Xavier, Temple, Tennessee
Bad Losses Outside of Top 100: Zero
Looking at these resumes, you would question why we are having this discussion, but I believe that the committee will take into account the deeper meaning of the resumes. First off, Georgia has a better RPI, and no bad losses, but had many more opportunities that weren't taken advantage of.
Conversely, Alabama has some ugly losses, but it had fewer opportunities and took advantage of those it had. I realize that going .500 isn’t a "wow" factor, but it is better than most bubble teams, and it certainly looks better than Georgia’s 3-9. Plus, Alabama beat Georgia twice this season, which bodes well for the Tide.
Does Georgia deserve a at-large bid?
Now let’s look at the teams Joe Lunardi has in front of both of them. Virginia Tech, Colorado, USC and Penn State. I’m going to go ahead and say there isn’t an argument against Colorado and Penn State—both of those teams have done enough in their respective tournaments to earn at-large berths. I’m mainly looking at the Hokies and Trojans; let’s look at their resumes:
USC (19-14, 10-8)
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 5-5
W: Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, UCLA, Washington
L: Kansas, Arizona (twice), UCLA, Washington
Bad Losses Outside of Top 100: Six
Rider, Oregon (twice), TCU, Oregon St., Bradley
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 2-5
W: Duke, Penn State
L: North Carolina, Purdue, Kansas St., UNLV, Duke
Bad Losses Outside of Top 100: Three
Virginia (twice), Georgia Tech
After looking at these resumes, I can’t see why Virginia Tech is in. No offense to the Hokies, but Alabama, Georgia and USC have more quality wins than you, so you are out. I put Georgia in because although they didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities they had—they didn’t have a bad loss. The Bulldogs should be rewarded for that.
Now it is between Alabama and USC. I put Alabama in, simply because the Tide beat Georgia twice and don’t have as many (or as ugly) losses as USC does. USC has three losses outside of the Top 200; Alabama has none.
I know that I’m an SEC homer, and Alabama alum, but you can’t argue with the numbers. If that is what everyone is punishing Alabama for, the prognosticators need to look at the numbers behind the numbers. Behind the curtain, Alabama and Georgia look better than the rest waiting for their ticket to March Madness. RPI is a big thing, but it isn’t the only thing.