Let me start by being clear about my view of ranking in the power poll. I try to look at these teams as if I were sitting in the conference room of the nameless hotel of a nameless Midwestern city during the NCAA tournament selection process and seeding them for the tournament. That being the case, I look at season won-loss, RPI (including good wins and bad losses), and the last several games. I also place a fairly high premium on road record, especially when I am making fine distinctions, which I have had to from 2-6th place. SEC conference record is only important in that it has a bearing on tournament match-ups, thus gives some opportunity for teams to get further wins (which strangely might hurt Alabama's NCAA tournament chances this season, since they get one less game to get a win they might need).
That being said, I don't think it is even close for Alabama to be above 5th or 6th. Looking at the records of the Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, it is easy to become fixated on head to heads and not the total season. Yes, I have had serious cognitive dissonance with Alabama's wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, particularly the road win over Tennessee. However, all three of those other teams have kept up their RPI and have played much tougher schedules to boot. Only Tennessee's 17-12 is a worse season record among those teams. Tenneesee's losses, beyond Alabama, include some head scratchers (Miss State and Oakland) and some tough ones (at Florida by one, at UConn). UT's wins include over probable Big OMG!1! East champ Pitt and and Villanova. If I had to rank them, and I would have done so on Sunday if I hadn't been away from a computer, I still would have a tough time ranking Alabama above Tennessee for that slot in the top five. Even if I arrived at that conclusion, I can see no reason to rank them ahead of any of the other four top teams from the East. It isn't even close, in my mind.
Finally, Alabama is terrible on the road. No NCAA games will be played at Coleman. Hell, no NCAA first round games will be played within 500 miles of Coleman. I might be convinced if they go to Atlanta and make a run to Sunday. I might not. They might have to win it to get in the NCAA tourney.
Prior to last night's
I'm not the only one, by the way. Just a quick look around has Alabama as among the last four in or first four out in various bracketology scenarios. That being said, I expect Alabama to win against Georgia this weekend. They are a tough team at home. Georgia plays well on the road and has the best road record of any SEC team. That means it could be pretty close, but Georgia has had a maddening propensity to let games get away from them.
However, one team on Saturday will probably be assured of making the NCAA tournament, regardless of the outcome. One team will have to win it and probably more to have a legit shot. The team needing the win more will probably get it. The team needing that win more will be Alabama.
Alabama is benefiting from playing on the weak side of the conference. Yes, they have gotten their wins, but that weak side of the division is affecting their seed-ability and post season prospects, as well. Much like South Carolina last football season, the Tide's basketball program is leading their division and has a solid SEC record, but it is barely above the middle of the pack when you stack up the whole conference.