An Alabama fan's guide to conference tournaments: What is best for UA?

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    Drew Hill
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    An Alabama fan’s guide to watching conference tournaments this week:

    Before we get started, the Crimson Tide will need to take care of Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday. If that doesn’t happen, it would take a small miracle for UA to be dancing later this month. If Alabama wins the SEC Tournament, UA is in no matter what, so this post will have been irrelevant.

    With 68 total spots available, 32 consist of automatic bids given to the winner of each conference tournament. For all the math wizards, that makes 36 at-large bids available to remaining teams.

    What does that mean for Alabama? It means the Crimson Tide should hope the teams with the strongest resumes (or at least resumes clearly stronger than its own) win their conference tournaments. That way the rest of the schools waiting for an at-large bid are as weak as possible.

    For example: If Boston College (18-14) were to win the ACC Tournament, the Eagles would receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. That means teams like Virginia (a certain No.1 seed) become an at-large bid instead of an automatic qualifier. Boston College would not have made the tournament otherwise, and now took away one spot available for Alabama in the at-large pool.

    Explanation over. Now let’s talk about which teams from each conference Alabama would be happy to see win this week.

    The teams listed in the “Cheer against” section are also on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Keep in mind that any conference champion not listed in the “Best for UA” section is also not ideal for the Crimson Tide’s chances at an at-large bid.

    Conferences are in not specific order.

    West Coast Conference (WCC), March 6

    Championship: BYU vs. Gonzaga

    UA clearly wants Gonzaga here. St. Mary’s and Gonzaga are likely to receive an at-large from the WCC. (Although, Cecil Hurt pointed out that St. Mary’s has just two wins against the top 75.)

    American Athletic Conference (AAC), March 8-11

    Best for UA: Cincinnati, Wichita State or Houston

    Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), March 6-10

    Best for UA: Virginia, Duke, UNC, Clemson or Miami

    Cheer against: Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse, NC State, Florida State and Virginia Tech

    Big East, March 7-10

    Best for UA: Villanova, Xavier or Seton Hall

    Cheer against: Marquette, Providence, Creighton and Butler

    Big 12, March 7-10

    Best for UA: Kansas, Texas Tech, TCU or West Virginia

    Cheer against: Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor

    PAC 12, March 7-10

    Best for UA: Arizona

    Cheer against: Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Utah, Stanford, Oregon, Washington

    NOTE: There are so many teams on the bubble in the PAC 12. The results don’t make much of a difference here if four teams get in. Arizona would still be the ideal outcome.

    Mountain West, March 7-10

    Best for UA: Nevada

    Cheer against: Boise State

    NOTE: Nevada will be added to the bubble if the Wolfpack does not win the Mountain West.

    Atlantic 10, March 7-11

    Best for UA: Rhode Island

    Cheer against: St. Bonaventure

    Western Athletic Conference (WAC), March 8-10

    Best for UA: New Mexico State

    NOTE: New Mexico State will be added to the bubble if they do not win the conference tournament. No other team from the WAC has at-large chance.

    Conference USA, March 7-10

    Best for UA: Middle Tennessee State

    NOTE: Middle Tennessee State will be added to the bubble if they do not win the conference tournament (The Blue Raiders have four quadrant one wins). It’s unlikely any other CUSA team has an at-large chance.

    Southeastern Conference (SEC), March 7-11

    Very best for UA: Alabama, of course

    Best for UA: Kentucky, Auburn, Florida, Arkansas or Tennessee

    Cheer against: Missouri, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State

    NOTE: The SEC is so deep it makes little difference for Alabama. The Crimson Tide is only concerned about helping itself here.

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