NCAA Bracket 2013: Bubble Teams That Still Have Work to Do

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVMarch 11, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 09:  Trae Golden #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers is fouled as he shoots the ball by Ladarius White #10 of the Mississippi Rebels during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Conference tournament time is upon us, which means the ever-popular bubble teams have one last opportunity to pick up quality wins before the selection committee goes to work.

Most teams know their fate by now, and save for a conference championship, have a pretty good idea of which postseason tournament—if any—they'll be competing in. 

But those few who aren't sure, need to play like it's their last game and do all they can to make deep runs in their respective tournaments.

Let's take a look at some teams who still have work to do heading into the conference tournament slate.


Alabama Crimson Tide

One of the many things overshadowed by what Nick Saban has done with the football program is the men's basketball squad, which has been flirting with the bubble all season.

The Crimson Tide have put together a solid resume with a 20-11 record and a second-place finish in the SEC but lack quality wins. Their best wins of the season came at home against Tennessee and Kentucky, two conference foes that also find themselves on the bubble.

The fact that Alabama hasn't beat a single team projected in the tournament will haunt them come Selection Sunday. That is, unless it can benefit from its double bye this weekend and take down a team like Florida or Missouri.

Alabama will be one of the many SEC bubble teams to keep an eye on this weekend in Nashville, as an early exit would reek of the NIT, and a deep run would have them punching a ticket to the Big Dance.


Boise State Broncos

For the first time in conference history, the Mountain West could send five teams to the NCAA tournament, but that will likely only happen if Boise State can prove it belongs in the MWC tournament.

The Broncos enter with the fifth seed and immediately play an NCAA-bound team in San Diego State Wednesday night. A win there would likely have Boise State facing off against regular-season champion New Mexico.

If Boise State wins its first two games, it could very well add two quality wins to its resume. Doing so would almost certainly get them in the field of 68. 


Tennessee Volunteers

Just a month ago, the thought of the Vols making the field of 68 was a laughable proposition at best, as they sat on an 11-10 record. 

Then, Cuonzo Martin willed his team to winning eight of nine to close out the regular season. Led by Jordan McRae, an SEC Player of the Year hopeful, the Vols have revitalized their offense while sticking to Martin's stingy defensive principles. 

During that winning streak, they picked up quality wins against Kentucky, Missouri and then-eighth-ranked Florida while watching big man Jarnell Stokes finish the season with 14 double-doubles and averaging 9.4 rebounds per contest.

It's debatable whether the Vols look like a tournament team on paper, but watching their performance over the past month would leave any committee member impressed. 

Though, the Vols traditionally haven't boded well in the SEC tournament, and an early exit would leave a bad final impression as a bubble team.