Bracketology: Alabama remains No. 1 after blowout loss, but margin for error is gone

The SEC/Big 12 Challenge went mostly in favor of the home sides, but there were certainly some results that impacted the standings.

Kansas avoided their first-ever four-game losing streak under coach Bill Self by winning in Kentucky. That almost knocked the Wildcats out of the bracket. Kentucky is now 1-6 against Quad 1 opponents, with that win in Tennessee saving them for now. It’s the only one the Wildcats have over a team in the updated bracket.

Meanwhile, the Jayhawks added another Quad 1 win to their total, giving them a nation’s best eight wins against that group. There’s an argument that Kansas is back at the top because of its schedule and records. However, I left Arizona up there for the time being.

Alabama was rolled over in Oklahoma, which was a more important result for the Sooners than the Crimson Tide. Alabama had enough cushion between itself and the rest of the bracket to remain 2nd overall, but that cushion is gone now.

One thing to keep in mind is that scoring margins are very important to the NET, but the NET itself is not used to making selection and seeding decisions. A team’s own NET ranking isn’t nearly as important as their opponents’ NET rankings, which are used to decide which quadrant an opponent is placed in on the team sheet.

When the committee debates team selection and seeding, not much attention is paid to margin. So, in the committee’s eyes, Alabama’s loss on Saturday and Kansas’ loss to TCU last week won’t be as bad as the result suggests.

Bracketology top seeds

Check out Palm’s latest bracket, the full field of 68, and all the teams in the bubble on the Bracketology hub.

Tennessee pulled off a nice home win over Texas, which is very welcome on a still-thin résumé. The Volunteers have two great wins but otherwise very little depth to their resumes. As I mentioned, Kansas has eight Quad 1 wins, but Tennessee, who defeated the Jayhawks, has just seven wins in Quads 1 and 2 combined. Only three of those are Quad 1 and four of those teams are in the updated bracket.

In another indication that metrics don’t mean much, Ohio State is 29th in NET but outside of the bracket and not even really being considered at this point. The Buckeyes fell to 11-10 after Saturday’s loss in Indiana, their seventh loss in their last eight games. You have a favorable schedule ahead of you and you need to take advantage of it.

Finally, Purdue is still No. 1 overall at the top of the bracket after completing a season sweep at Michigan State on Sunday. The rift between the Boilermakers and the rest of the bracket is widening as a result of Alabama’s loss.

The Bubble Watch debuts next week. I don’t like to think about the concept of a bubble too early in the season because I define it as the list of teams that can still reasonably play in or out of the bracket. That’s still a very long list.