My goodness.

Nobody in college basketball has made us say those 2 words more than Alabama. That top gear isn’t just “scary good.” It’s “win the whole darn thing” good.

Go ask A&M about that. Eight days after the Aggies took care of Alabama in College Station, they saw that top gear with an SEC Tournament Championship on the line. Buzz Williams said entering the day that Alabama was the No. 1 team in the country. Then he and his team had a front-row seat to the show.

That show included Charles Bediako being the rim-protecting, rim-rocking big who made life difficult all day for the Aggies. It included Jahvon Quinerly being the sometimes maddening, sometimes electric take-over-a-game guard who shook off an 0-for-9 semifinal performance with a 22-point showing a day later. And obviously that show included Brandon Miller being the do-it-all freshman sensation who put the exclamation point on Alabama’s SEC Tournament Championship.

My goodness.

Alabama looked scarier than ever in Nashville. They showed up with bad intentions and finished off the SEC sweep in convincing fashion. This conference sweep, however, feels different than the one Oats led in 2021.

Why? Because this time around, Alabama is the most dangerous team in America.

I say that without knowing, as of this writing, whether the Tide have earned the No. 1 overall seed. Don’t care.

But look around.

You think Kansas is? There’s a fair argument, but given Bill Self’s health scare that sidelined him for the Big 12 Tournament, I don’t know that the defending champs, who have a ton of new faces, can be considered the most “dangerous.”

Houston is no slouch, but that’s the team that Alabama beat in their own building, which might’ve aged as the best win anyone has heading into the NCAA Tournament. And with the groin injury that leading scorer Marcus Sasser suffered in the AAC Championship, I’d say the Cougars are in a different spot than they were in a week ago.

What about Purdue, you ask? I don’t know that we can call the Boilermakers the “most dangerous team in America” because of how different they look if giant Zach Edey gets in any sort of foul trouble.

Compare that to Alabama, who watched Miller suffered his third foul in the first half, yet amidst a slow shooting start for the SEC Player of the Year, the Tide always kept A&M at an arm’s length until it was ready to deliver the knockout blow in the final 5 minutes.

If you drank every time you heard ESPN color commentator Jimmy Dykes praise Alabama’s depth, well, let’s just say you might as well have been at a different establishment on Broadway Street. Dykes is right. Oats’ squad can show so many different faces within a game.

Yeah, it’s the No. 4 team in America in terms of possessions per 40 minutes. But that doesn’t mean the Tide are dependent on transition buckets. Their ball movement in the half-court is second to none. They can beat you with the inside-out, or they can force defenders to collapse and find the lobs.

The true testament to how good this Alabama team is rooted in the defensive numbers. Go ask Wade Taylor IV about that. Eight days removed from a 28-point outburst in a win against Alabama, he was held to 13 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He couldn’t get anything going. His struggles were partially why A&M had a 10:32 stretch in the first half without a field goal. That’s why the Aggies went into the locker room sitting at 23 points.

Think about this. Up-tempo teams are typically associated with, um, let’s call it “mediocre” defense. Alabama ranks No. 3 in America in adjusted defensive efficiency and again, it’s the No. 4 team in America in tempo. Here’s the list of teams who rank in the top 30 nationally in both categories:

  • Alabama

Yep, that’s the list. Memphis entered the day as the only other Division I team who ranks in the top 40 in both categories.

Why is that such an asset? It’s how you withstand dry spells. A team who shoots it as often as Alabama is going to run into those slumps from deep, just as it did early on against Mizzou. But having a team bought in defensively like Oats’ squad is can elevate that floor. It’s why all of Alabama’s losses were Quad 1 losses, and it’s why the Tide have yet to let a shooting slump spiral into multiple losses in the same month.

If you would’ve told Williams entering Saturday that Miller would have 3 fouls in the first half and he’d shoot 5-for-20, he would’ve taken that all day, every day. Shoot, throw in there that Saturday’s semifinal star, Noah Clowney, got in foul trouble and he had a relatively quiet 9 points. Williams would’ve signed off on that game script 10 times out of 10.

Ah, but the depth. Drink.

How many teams can casually turn to a bench player who won SEC Tournament MVP 2 years ago? Alabama can. Alabama did. Quinerly was the best version of himself (he also jawed to the point where he got a technical for something he said to an A&M player late in the game after another Alabama triple). He played the inside-out game, he didn’t force shots and he didn’t have the careless turnovers that got him in Oats’ doghouse a day earlier.

In some ways, it felt like Saturday was Alabama’s floor and Sunday was its ceiling. You could push back on the latter because of the aforementioned early shooting struggles and foul trouble from Miller, but by day’s end, there was no doubt. Forget just clinching a 1-seed. Alabama should’ve shut down any lingering doubt about that with a blowout win against MSU on Friday.

Think about that. In a conference who’ll likely get at least 8 teams in the NCAA Tournament, Alabama went 16-2 in the regular season with road losses coming at Tennessee and A&M, and then it came into Nashville and won all 3 games by double digits. Scary? You bet.

Does being the most dangerous team in America guarantee that Alabama will have more nets to cut down in the coming weeks? Of course not. Maybe in other months that premise plays, but not in March.

It does, however, beg the question — what more can you ask for from a team entering the field? I guess the only thing more than that was 2015 Kentucky, who entered the NCAA Tournament as the obvious No. 1 overall seed after a 34-0 start. That was the last time an SEC team earned a No. 1 seed in The Big Dance. The question won’t be whether the Tide will end that drought. The question will be whether Alabama just set the stage to be the last team standing.

As that Kentucky team learned the hard way, there’s no such thing as a safe bet this time of year. Well, maybe there’s at least one thing we can bank on saying about Alabama a whole lot more this March.

My goodness.