Following a strong week of impressive wins over Auburn and Missouri, Alabama is officially on the NCAA tournament bubble according to ESPN Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi.
Somewhat surprisingly, there are only five SEC teams currently in the field - Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, and LSU - coming off a year that saw seven conference squads make it. Alabama is 1-2 against those teams, with a win over Auburn and very close road losses to Kentucky and Florida. As we noted last week, Nate Oats and company have made strides in the key metrics.
The schedule sets up nicely for the Tide to have a strong finish, with only four of the remaining 13 conference games coming against that top group, and the last non-conference opponent is a Kansas State squad that has been rather underwhelming this season. The Tide could legitimately have 20 wins before the SEC tournament if they continue to play well.
Alabama currently sits at #2 in the country in points per game, which is nothing short of miracle work from Oats. John Petty has morphed into a focused team leader and is shooting a ridiculous 47.5% from deep the year after the line moved back, for third in the nation. There are defensive issues that still need to be worked out, but they seem to be improving in that area as the season goes along as well.
Thanks to injuries, this is not a terribly deep team and that could come back to bite them at some point. As long as they can maintain health and keep up the recent level of play, however, you have to like their chances.