BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — We’re a month removed from the end of the college football season. The Super Bowl is in the rear view mirror. Selection Sunday, which is on March 13th, is a little over a month away. What excuses you may have had before are now all behind you. Do not deny your thirst for sports, allow yourself to be engulfed in the magic taking place on the Southside. Do not wait long, because history is being made every week.
What has UAB accomplished thus far?
Through February 9, the UAB Blazers have an overall record of 20-4 and are currently alone at the top of the Conference USA standings at 10-1. The Blazers are 14-0 at home, 6-2 on the road, and 0-2 on neutral courts.
Three of the Blazers four losses came within the month of November. The first defeat came at the hand of the Auburn Tigers in a Heart of Dixie battle on the Plains the first game of the season. The Tigers defeated the Blazers 75-74 on a TJ Lang made three-pointer with 16.3 seconds left.
The second and third losses for UAB came during a trip to Destin, Fla. over Thanksgiving at the Emerald Coast Classic. The Blazers suffered their largest defeat of the year, 72-58, at the hands of the Big 10’s Illinois on the first night. The following day yielded another loss to the ACC’s Virginia Tech, 82-77 in overtime.
As the calendar progressed forward from November to December, so did the Blazers fortunes. UAB went 7-0 during the month for the first time in school history. The impressive stretch was book ended by a double-digit win at Illinois St. on December 5, and a monumental come-from-behind victory over Stephen F. Austin in Birmingham on December 29.
The start of 2016 was also the beginning of Conference USA play for the Blazers. UAB extended their December win streak to 14 games before falling at Western Kentucky 69-62 on January 28. Following their fourth loss of the season, the Blazers have now won three straight bringing us to their current record of 20-4 and 10-1 in Conference USA play.
What records have been broken?
- Consecutive Home Wins at Bartow Arena
- Old Record, 19 Wins (1990-91)
- New Record, 23 Wins and counting…
- Consecutive Wins
- Old Record, 13 Wins (1992-93)
- New Record, 14 Wins (2015-16)
- Best Start in Conference Play
- Old Record, 6-0 (2009-10 and 1989-90)
- New Record, 7-0 (2015-2016)
- Best Start
- Old Record, 19-4 (2009-10)
- New Record, 20-4 and counting…
What’s next for the Blazers?
Despite the records and accolades already achieved, there are still many goals left to accomplish for UAB. The Blazers are in full control of their own destiny in the Conference USA. They are a full game ahead of Middle Tennessee State in the standings who they’ve already defeated and will play again in two weeks on the road.
UAB has won the regular season Conference USA Championship twice in it’s 20 years in the league. They shared the title in 2004 under Mike Anderson and won it outright in 2011 under Mike Davis. With the conference tournament in Birmingham for the second year in a row, the Blazers will have a good opportunity to win both the regular season and Conference USA Tournament titles.
The Blazers will have their work cut out for them to attain either or both titles. Of the seven remaining conference games, five are on the road. Furthermore, five of the seven games are rematches from earlier in the conference schedule. Currently, UAB is 6-2 on the road. The record of nine road wins in a season can be broken with four or more road wins out of the five remaining.
Is a NCAA Tournament At-Large bid possible?
If you look at the statistics and past behavior of the selection committee, the answer is…maybe. Our strength of schedule is currently 309th and our RPI is 98th (Per Warren Nolan). Winning the next seven conference games and falling in the Conference USA Championship title game would leave UAB with a record of 29-5 and a RPI between 60-70. It’s possible UAB’s RPI could drop below 60 depending on who they play in the Conference USA Tournament.
In the past, very few teams with 60 or higher RPI have gotten in. The chances for UAB will be even slimmer considering the Blazers would have one or two top 100 wins at best. Middle Tennessee at 79 and Stephen F. Austin at 138 are the most likely opponents of UAB to finish in the top 100. Also, keep in mind, no team with more than 28 wins has ever been left out of the NCAA tournament. That fact and our performance in last year’s tournament give UAB a small chance to get in if they lose in the finals of the Conference USA Tournament.