LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva doesn’t sound hopeful about the basketball tream’s chances of reaching the NCAA tournament.
Speaking on “Your Morning Drive” on 104.5/104.9 FM ESPN in Baton Rouge, Alleva, who sits on the tournament selection committee, put the Tigers’ March Madness odds in simple terms.
“This is my fifth year on the committee, so I have a lot of experience doing this. As of yesterday, LSU’s RPI was 82. There has never been a team picked in the tournament at-large with an RPI over 80,” Alleva said. “As of right now, I don’t think (the chances are) very good.
“In other words, we need to win a lot of games. We can’t afford to lose many more games going forward.”
Sitting a game behind Kentucky for first place in the Southeastern Conference, the Tigers (16-10, 9-4 SEC) suffered a disappointing loss at home this past Wednesday night against bubble-team Alabama. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the sport’s top bracket prognosticator, pegged the Tigers as a No. 11 seed in his latest bracket projection.
“Frankly I’m concerned about where we are at this point in time,” Alleva said.
The season has resembled a purple-and-gold roller-coaster. LSU lost five non-conference games in November and December, punctuated by an ugly, double-digit loss at Charleston. And only a couple of tournament-caliber teams remain on LSU’s schedule, giving the team limited chances to strengthen its tournament resume. LSU heads to struggling Tennessee on Saturday afternoon. After that contest, the rest of the schedule contains road games at Arkansas and Kentucky, mixed with home games against Florida and Missouri. Of those opponents, Kentucky and Florida are tournament-worthy while Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri simply serve as potential potholes on the road to the tournament.
“This team is capable of beating anybody, and it’s capable of losing to anybody,” Alleva said. “You don’t know which team is going to show up on a given day … there’s not a lot of margin for error with this team.”