If LSU Basketball Wants the NCAA Tournament Seed Its Record Indicates, Beating the Computers Is Key
There are always two battles LSU is facing when taking the court. One is the opponent while the other is, a computer.
While writers and fans like to talk about how LSU had won its previous six games before Wednesday's 90-76 win over Alabama by a combined 15 points, Wade wasn't exactly thrilled for a number of reasons. One was the way his team continued to find ways to blow big late game leads, needing heroics from its best players just to escape with a two or four point victory.
The other reason was LSU continued to stay level in the NET rankings despite winning its last nine games. The NET is the ultimate determination of the seeding for the NCAA tournament and if LSU wants the seed its current record (16-4, 7-0) deserves, it must start beating teams by more than a few baskets.
Heading into the Alabama game, LSU was No. 23 in the NET rankings and after the Alabama win, the Tigers are slated to make a sizable jump according to Wade.
"Our numbers weren't improving, because we're not beating the computers," Wade said. "You've got to beat the computers. We're going to move up (in the rankings) tonight, because we beat the computers."
The two-point win against Texas was an example Wade used when describing why LSU wasn't moving up in the NET. Because the Longhorns drained a last second three-pointer, it made what would've been a five-point win just a two-point win.
"I was so mad when we gave up that three at the end of the Texas game because there would've been a big difference in a two-point win and five-point win," Wade said. "A two-point win doesn't help us in the NET rankings so we have to start beating the computers. The No. 1 thing is you have to win but you also have to win the right way."
"The winning doesn't matter in the NET if you can't get the efficiency right. It's nice to win the games, but you have to win by better margins than the predictive models in the NET," Wade continued. "You're not just playing the other team and the scoreboard. We need to get as good a seed as we can get, if we can get in the thing. It just wasn't sustainable, doing what we were doing."
Wade believes the team took a step forward with the most recent double-digit win over the Crimson Tide, but now it's about sustaining that level of play for 40 minutes to keep getting similar outcomes.
"We looked more like how we need to look and I thought we had a grit and determination to us," Wade said. "In February things get even tougher so we've got to take that next step. Not to rain on everybody's parade but we were in the same spot last year."
In 2018, LSU was 7-0 in SEC play entering a home game against Arkansas, a team the Tigers had already beaten on the road in overtime.
"We were playing them for the second time in our place and they came in here and beat us," Wade said.
When this 2019 LSU team takes on Ole Miss on Saturday at 11 a.m. it will be for the second time after a narrow 80-76 win just two weeks ago in Oxford.
"We were 7-0 just like last year, Saturday tip just like last year so we've got to show some growth against Mississippi because we were in this exact same spot and relaxed a little bit," Wade said. "Ole Miss is obviously capable of beating us by almost beating Auburn the other day and have a lot of confidence after the way they played us the first time around."