Mike Davis and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers were not supposed to be the team everyone was gunning for this season.
Not that the Blazers are the team to beat going into the Conference USA Tournament today, but UAB is an important foe for everyone in C-USA.
Davis and his Blazers are 23-7 on the year and looking to make the NCAA tournament field for the first time in his coaching tenure on the Southside.
To do so, the Blazers will need to make a strong showing in the C-USA Tournament, starting today at 2:30 PM CST against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on the CBS College Sports Network.
UAB has already beaten USM both times this season. Beating such a scrappy team could be difficult, but the Blazers will have to do so in order to stay on the bubble watch.
UAB has beaten the Eagles 57-56 and 59-54 this season already, and are far from a lock in the semifinals.
The Golden Eagles and Blazers have only met once before in the C-USA Tournament. The two teams combined for a thrilling game in last season's quarterfinals, where UAB came out victorious thanks to a buzzer-beating shot to win 74-73.
Overall, though, the teams have met 33 previous times, with UAB holding a commanding 22-11 edge in the series. Davis is 6-3 against the Golden Eagles.
If the Blazers can pull out a win, the most likely scenario would see them in the semifinals against Memphis, who takes on Houston today at noon CST.
A semifinals matchup with Memphis would be a huge factor in deciding whether the Blazers get into the NCAA tournament or if they will have to settle for the NIT for another season.
Davis is certainly looking to get the next two wins as he is currently two wins shy of 200 in his short 10-year career at Indiana and UAB.
That 200th win, by most accounts, would put the Blazers into the NCAA tournament field with no question.
The question is, can they get the 199th win first?
If so, UAB could be on their way to the Big Dance.
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