When you look at the Alabama Crimson Tide's basic numbers -- 19-8 overall record, No. 78 in the latest RPI -- the team appears to be a fringe bubble team. Bad early-season losses against the likes of the St. Peter's Peacocks (RPI No. 119), Providence Friars (141) and Iowa Hawkeyes (172) set the Crimson Tide back, but a 9-1 stretch over the past 10 games -- including wins over the Kentucky Wildcats (16) and Tennessee Volunteers (29) -- have put Bama back in the NCAA hunt. And when you see Alabama's 11-2 record in the SEC you think, it's got to be in, right?
It's not so cut and dried, though, when you start to look closely at the SEC West, where Alabama has done most of its damage this year. As we saw with last year's mediocre Pac-10, it can be a little tricky evaluating major-conference teams when their league is having a down year. That's why Bama is such an interesting case study.