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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Sorry, selection committee, but UAB proved it didn’t belong

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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If Colorado's Tad Boyle or Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg managed to find TruTV on their local cable package on Tuesday night, the sight of UAB struggling to even be competitive with Clemson had to be frustrating.

The inaugural First Four matchup with Clemson represented UAB's chance to prove itself to those who blasted the selection committee for awarding the Conference USA champs one of the NCAA tournament's final at-large bids. Instead, the Blazers essentially confirmed our suspicions, falling behind by 18 points in the opening minutes on their way to a 70-52 loss that likely left most viewers wondering whether Colorado or Virginia Tech might at least have been more competitive.

If the inclusion of Virginia Commonwealth, Clemson and USC raised some eyebrows in Boulder or Blacksburg, it was UAB's bid that had folks the most irate. The Blazers to their credit won Conference USA's regular-season title and boasted an RPI of 31, yet their most noteworthy victories came against VCU and Arkansas, and they had suffered losses to the likes of East Carolina and Arizona State.

Contrast that with Colorado's three victories over Kansas State, and wins over Texas and Missouri, and it's easy to see the Buffs' argument despite a bloated RPI and a pedestrian nonleague performance. Ditto Virginia Tech, which also lacked marquee nonleague wins but at least had toppled Duke and beaten Florida State twice.

What was especially disheartening about UAB's inability to solve Clemson's defense or dig out of an early hole was that the team that demolished the Blazers was hardly a juggernaut either. The Tigers are playing their best basketball in March, but Tuesday's win also represents their lone victory over a team that finished the season in the RPI top 50.

The worst moment of the night came with 5:44 left when Conference USA Player of the Year Aaron Johnson suffered a broken right tibia trying to defend a fastbreak. It was difficult not to feel sympathy for the Blazers watching a senior who had given so much to that program end his career on such a sour note. {YSP:MORE}

Well, except for maybe Colorado fans, who were too busy lamenting their team's fate to worry about anyone else.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports that students are planning an on-campus rally prior to the Buffs' first-round NIT game on Wednesday night in order to protest the team being left out of the NCAA tournament.

On the one hand, it's probably time for Colorado to let it go. On the other hand, UAB's loss makes it easier to sympathize with its frustration.

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