TUSCALOOSA — Though Alabama has won 13 of its past 15 games, it has not yet won over voters in college basketball’s major polls.
With four regular-season games to go, the Crimson Tide (18-8, 10-2) is the Southeastern Conference Western Division champion. It is tied with 13th-ranked Florida for the best record in the league.
“Enough said,” Alabama senior forward Chris Hines said Monday.
Not enough, say the voters.
The Crimson Tide remains unranked in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll. In fact, it did not even receive a vote this week.
Alabama received votes in The Associated Press poll, but not enough to break into the top 25. With 15 points, it would be ranked No. 29 in an extended poll.
Alabama coach Anthony Grant shrugs off the lack of recognition.
“We haven’t all year paid much attention to the rankings or anything else, other than just controlling the things that we can control,” he said. “We’ll take it one game at a time.
“We’re excited about the opportunities we have in front of us. We’re excited about what we’ve been able to accomplish in league play up to this point. That’s really all we’ve talked about.”
Some individual recognition did come the Tide’s way Monday. Sophomore forward Tony Mitchell, who scored a season-high 27 points Saturday in a 69-56 victory over Arkansas, became the first Alabama player this season to be named the SEC’s player of the week.
As a team, Alabama continues to pay for a slow start. Its nonconference record was 8-6. Five weeks into the season, its RPI was No. 307, according to WarrenNolan.com. It was No. 217 before it started conference play.
The RPI is up to No. 77, but Alabama’s record still is only 8-8 against teams in the top 200. It is 3-4 against top 100 teams.
Perhaps that’s why Grant said “not really” when asked if he is puzzled why his team isn’t ranked.
“There’s a lot of good teams in the country, a lot of good conferences, so I couldn’t really put what we’ve been able to accomplish and measure it against somebody else,” he said.
Of course, because the national championship is settled on the court, polls in college basketball aren’t as relevant as they are in college football.
Nonetheless, Alabama players feel a little slighted.
“I want a ranking,” Hines said. “If it’s not there, we’re going to continue to play hard. We’re going to control what we can control. But I’m pretty sure all of our guys would like to be ranked, if you really asked them.
“But it works good working under the radar, and we’ll continue to work under the radar and knock teams off, ranked and unranked.”
Alabama hosts Auburn (9-17, 2-10) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
A victory over the Tigers, whose RPI is No. 270, won’t help the Tide’s case for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament