The UAB Blazers are ranked in the Top 25 for the second time this season. They are first in C-USA. They have a good home win against the pre-season favorite to win the conference. At 18-2, no matter how the rest of the season goes, they have created something big out of nothing.
UAB was completely overlooked before the season started. In nearly all pre-season predictions, the Blazers was picked to finish outside the top 5 or in the bottom tier of the conference, not to mention being in the bottom half of all teams in the nation. What a difference a few months makes.
UAB plays UTEP this saturday at Bartow Arena. Including that game, UAB has five home and five away games left before the C-USA Tournament in Tulsa. The record for most wins in a season for the Blazers is currently 25, and all seasons where they had 25 come from the 1980's. The most they have in the modern era is 24 during the 2005-06 season under former coach Mike Anderson. With 10 regular season games left, and tournaments to follow, it is easy to see how Coach Mike Davis and UAB could surpass 25 wins by quite a few.
There has been a lot of talk during the Mike Davis era that perhaps he is under-achieving. After much hype during his second and third years, they only managed to make the NIT. For a team that had talent like Robert Vaden and Paul Delaney III, a lot of people thought they should be able to at least beat Memphis once and make a good run in the NCAA Tournament. Despite UAB having a better record than and beating teams that made the big dance, UAB was left out. All the blame can't be left on Davis for only making the NIT because C-USA has been vastly ignored due to the domination of the league by the Memphis Tigers for the past several years.
C-USA still has a good ways to go before they get the respect they probably deserve. This year, Mike Davis has quietly put together a team that can't be ignored like in past years, and unleashed them on the college basketball world. At last, for the first time in a few years, UAB is getting noticed. It's hard to ignore a team who is 18-2 and undefeated in conference play at this point in the season. UAB does not have to win out the rest of their conference games to end up in first place in C-USA or to make the NCAA Tournament. They could take a loss or two to teams like Memphis or UTEP and be safe. As unlikely as it seems that UAB will be able to go undefeated in the conference, don't push the possibility out of your mind just yet. This is a team that some said would be lucky to win 14 or so games all season, and with their uncanny ability to pull a win back out of what looks like a disaster, anything is possible.
Whatever happens, Blazer fans can be proud of what their team and their coaches have accomplished thus far. It isn't always pretty, but it is pretty amazing.
The UTEP game will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 30th at Bartow Arena.