Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU basketball coach Will Wade has his team in the conversation for the NCAA Tournament.

Finding LSU basketball’s path to reaching NCAA Tournament

Alex Hickey

SEC Country reporter Alex Hickey will answer your LSU Tigers sports queries each weekday in our LSU Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryLSU@bigahickey or by email to Alex at alex.hickey@coxinc.com.

Question of the Day: Friday, Feb. 23

At the start of the season, nothing seemed more ludicrous than pondering whether LSU basketball was capable of reaching the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers were abysmal in 2016-17, going just 2-16 in SEC play.

At the midway mark of this season, the Tigers were a vastly better team under new coach Will Wade, but still not tournament worthy. Now that the season is coming down the home stretch, though, LSU is working its way into the conversation. And now we are forced to answer the question that no one could have seen coming even a month ago.

What will it take for LSU basketball to reach the NCAA Tournament?

Because it is such a chaotic season in college basketball — and that’s not just off the court — it becomes harder to answer this question than it would in a normal year. Just take a look at the SEC standings.

If the SEC tournament started today, the Tigers would be the No. 9 seed. But they are just one game out from being tied in a mass jumble for the third seed.

At the moment, LSU is not even on the radar for tournament projections from CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm or ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. The Tigers scheduled lightly in non-conference play in hopes of building confidence and a shot at a winning season. The tournament was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. But as a result, LSU’s RPI is only 76th in the country right now, behind schools such as Utah Valley and Rider.

The solution? As Al Davis once said, just win, baby.

LSU would finish the regular season 19-11 if it wins its final three games against Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi State. Wins in those games plus another in the SEC Tournament would probably put the Tigers in the conversation on Selection Sunday.

If LSU drops any of its remaining games, it would likely have to pick up a couple of wins at the conference tourney in St. Louis to impress the committee. And even at that point, nothing would be guaranteed. The only way to assure an invite to the Big Dance will be to win the SEC tourney.

Right now, LSU’s chances of making the tourney are probably something around 20 percent. But the fact that we’re even having the discussion is a sign of major progress for the program.

To see prior answers to our Question of the Day, we have you covered.