Well, every year it is pretty circumstantial, but winning key games in the non-conference schedule would be a huge plus.
Alabama also has to show that it can win big games on the road. The game against the Bruins will be played on the road and that would be a huge victory to say the least, but it is not necessarily a must.
It seems like Alabama would have to finish in the top five of the SEC standings to even have a shot at dancing. It tied for second place in the SEC last year and didn’t even dance. The SEC is apparently not as good as the other big boy conferences in college basketball. That can change if SEC teams step up and do work in their non-conference schedules, which is where that circumstantial thing comes back into play.
Kentucky and Florida should stay in the top 10 all season long. Beating either of those teams would be huge for Alabama and beating both would be that much better. However, other SEC teams have to step up before conference play begins. The Crimson Tide will have the talent to do so and so will Tennessee and LSU.
All of this could change since the season hasn’t even started yet, but Alabama needs to win some big games in its non-conference schedule, have a solid conference record and a pretty good record overall. However, that is just a blueprint at this point.