As Anthony Grant and the Alabama Crimson Tide sit on the outside of the NCAA tournament currently, we’ve decided to take a look at other teams on the bubble. According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, the Tide are currently as the fourth team out of the field. Here, we will take the other seven teams ahead of Alabama, compare resumes and let the Alabama basketball fans know who to root against in March.
Last Four In (According to Joe Lunardi)
Record: 19-8 (8-5, 5th in the Atlantic 10)
Final Games: Detroit (2/28), Rhode Island (3/2), at Fordham (3/6), VCU (3/10)
The Owls are currently banking on their two quality wins against Syracuse and Saint Louis. Temple has had two common opponents with Alabama throughout the season. Alabama split between Villanova and Dayton, but Temple got the sweep. Temple has to play one more common opponent on the final game of the year against VCU at home. The Owls are currently on a 3-game winning streak and get three of their last four on the road. They play their final non-conference game tonight against Detroit on ESPN3.
What to Hope For: It’s hard to see Temple having a loss in these final four games to crush their resume. However, if they lose to Detroit and VCU, the Owls wouldn’t have another chance for a big victory. No matter what happens in the final four games, Alabama will be hoping that Temple has an early exit from the A-10 conference tournament.
Record: 20-8 (11-4, T-2nd in the SEC)
Final Games: at Arkansas (3/2), at Georgia (3/7), Florida (3/9)
Kentucky is still one of the most talented teams in the country, but the reason they are on the bubble is their youth and the injury to Nerlens Noel. The Cats had a tough non-conference schedule this season but could not get any quality wins from it. Now John Calipari’s team is hoping their conference record can help get them into the tournament. Wins against Missouri at home and Ole Miss on the road have the Wildcats hanging on to a tournament spot. Kentucky finishes with two of the same three teams that Alabama does, so these common opponents could make the difference between one getting in and one staying home.
What to Hope For: This is a tricky situation, because with more Kentucky wins, our resume continues to look better. However, with these common opponents coming up, it really doesn’t matter if Kentucky wins or loses because a win by either team will help Alabama’s strength of schedule. So, base your decision off your own personal feelings toward Kentucky, because it shouldn’t have a huge affect on Alabama.
Record: 18-11 (9-7, 8th in the Big East)
Final Games: at Pittsburgh (3/3), Georgetown (3/6)
Villanova had a very inconsistent year. Currently, they are riding on back-to-back home wins against Louisville and Syracuse to get them into the tournament. The Wildcats early season woes do not help however. Blowout losses against Alabama, Temple and Columbia may come back to haunt them. They started getting better once conference play began but have suffered a couple of more bad losses against Providence and Seton Hall. Their two remaining games plus how they fare in the final Big East tournament will make the difference for Villanova, as they play at least two more ranked teams that are ahead of them in the Big East.
What to Hope For: Another extremely tricky situation for Alabama fans here. Alabama has already beaten Villanova and more wins by the Wildcats would give Anthony Grant’s squad another quality win. However, the selection committee is likely to look at when that game happen (mid-November). So losses by Villanova would be more helpful to Alabama than Wildcats’ wins.
4. Ole Miss
Record: 21-7 (10-5, 4th in the SEC)
Final Games: at Mississippi State (3/2), Alabama (3/5), at LSU (3/9)
Ole Miss is starting to come back up after losing five of seven games in February. Two wins against Auburn and at Texas A&M have brought them back into the field of 68. The Rebels have played nearly the exact same schedule as Alabama and comparing resumes and common opponents won’t do much. However, Ole Miss doesn’t have the bad losses that Alabama has. The Rebels’ worst loss came in a conference road game against South Carolina.
What to Hope For: Now, of course we don’t want Ole Miss to win out since we play them in less than a week. However, a 2-1 finish by the Rebels may be the best thing for Alabama. It will be hard for a selection committee to put in an Ole Miss team over Alabama if the Tide win in Oxford. So the more games Ole Miss can win, the better a win against them will be.
First Four Out
Record: 17-10 (9-6, 5th in the SEC)
Final Games: at Georgia (3/2), at Auburn (3/6), Missouri (3/9)
The Volunteers are coming off a huge victory against Florida in Knoxville. Tennessee split the season series with Alabama, with only two total points separating them. Tennessee’s position is a little tougher right now though. They have back-to-back road trips in the SEC this week, which is never an easy task. A loss to Georgia or Auburn might would end all hopes of the Volunteers getting in to the tournament. The season finale at home against Missouri would give them a big boost ending the year, if they can win out the regular season.
What to Hope For: The Volunteers already helped us by beating Florida and giving Alabama control of their own destiny in the SEC race. The next best thing is for Tennessee to drop at least one of their final three games and have an early exit in the SEC tournament. What may be even better is getting to face the Vols for a third time in Nashville in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Record: 17-11 (8-7, 6th in the Big 12)
Final Games: Kansas State (3/2), at Texas (3/4), Kansas (3/9)
In all honesty, I am not sure how Baylor is even in this spot. Their biggest win currently is a win at Kentucky early on in the season. They have a loss at College of Charleston and have been swept by both Oklahoma and Iowa State in conference play. Nonetheless, they are in the conversation for a final spot in the tournament. And they have two more chances for big wins with Kansas State and Kansas coming into Waco on back-to-back weekends.
What to Hope For: Now I know this may be confusing for football fans, but we do not want Kansas State to lose at Baylor this time. One more loss for Baylor and they should out of the NCAA field and sent into the NIT.
3. Arizona State
Record: 20-9 (9-7, 6th in the Pac-12)
Final Games: at USC (3/2), at Arizona (3/9)
The Sun Devils have proven to be a very good basketball team this season. Their recent form says otherwise though. Arizona State has lost five of their last eight games, including home losses to Washington and Stanford and a road loss to an 11-15 Utah squad. Now they have two final chances to prove themselves, but they have to do it on the road in Los Angeles and Tucson against two of the top teams in the Pac-12.
What to Hope For: A loss in either of the final two games would not be incredibly damaging to Arizona State’s season, but a win against either of them would give a huge boost. So this one is easy: root against Arizona State.
This is where Alabama falls. With three crucial games remaining, the Tide will need at least a 2-1 finish to have a chance at a tournament birth. It will all come down to the weekend of Selection Sunday when the conference tournaments will be played. The key as an Alabama fan is to root for the Tide first and foremost. Then root against all seven teams listed above, and root for all the favorites in other conference tournaments.