18. Alabama

Alabama continues to make significant progress under Anthony Grant. Poor nonconference results ultimately prevented it from earning an NCAA berth last season, but the Crimson Tide did make it all the way to the NIT final. That team's identity of defense is intact, and the return of JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell inside gives Bama two of the more formidable frontcourt players in the SEC. The Tide will have a hard time moving ahead of Kentucky, Florida and Vandy in the league, but as long as they hold their own in the first couple of months, this should be an NCAA tourney lock. The key will be how well the perimeter develops and whether it can be counted on in a consistent manner.
-- Andy Katz