Location: Birmingham, AL
Conference: Conference USA
Coach: Jerod Haase
Record: 19-15 (12-6 C-USA)
Kenpom ranking: 121
Good wins (Kenpom ranking): Old Dominion (64) Louisiana Tech x2 (76)
Bad losses (Kenpom ranking): @ FAU (296) @ FIU (268) @ North Texas (241)
Tournament appearances: 15 (most recent: 2011)
Best result: Elite Eight (1982)
NBA alumni: Elijah Millsap, Donell Taylor, Carldell Johnson
Best name: Lionel Love
Famous alumni: NFL WR Roddy White, golfer Graeme McDowell, country musician Sam Hunt
Many assumed Louisiana Tech would get C-USA's autobid, but the Blazers had their number. UAB rocked the Bulldogs in one regular season matchup with a 20-point win, and knocked them out of the conference tourney in an OT win in front of a raucous Birmingham crowd. The Blazers are exceptionally young -- third-year coach Jerod Haase is only 40, and plays seven freshmen or sophomores and just two upperclassmen.
Style of play: Blazers playing with fire
Youth does show for the Blazers -- they turn the ball over on over a fifth of their possessions. The possession is far from over when a shot goes up: on defense, the Blazers gamble for shotblocks and are 33rd in the nation in block rate, but they give up a slew of offensive boards, and they grab over a third of their own misses on offense.
Key player: What can Brown do for U(AB)?
Robert Brown is the sole upperclassman in the starting lineup, so the Virginia Tech transfer is the default on-court leader for a young squad. The 6'5 guard is a pretty poor shooter, but holds the team lead in scoring by a healthy margin. He hit a game-winning jumper to beat Western Kentucky in the C-USA quarterfinals and 22 points in the conference title game.
2014 was the last year for UAB football, despite the fact that everybody at UAB liked UAB football. The state university's system board of trustees argued it was losing money -- this was very much a lie -- and didn't heed protests against the program's untimely demise. It's kind of beautiful that after that blow to the school, the hoops team rallied and showed that it's pretty great to be a UAB Blazer.