AU, UAB have to impress late to earn tourney bids

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, February 12, 2009

The table is set for Auburn and UAB to make runs to finish the basketball season, but the question is whether either is able to finish the deal.

While the first half of the SEC season didn’t go very well, Auburn still has an outside chance of making the tournament.

The only way I see the Tigers having any kind of chance is to do that is to virtually run the table in the final seven games. That is possible because the Tigers do have winnable games down the stretch. They have games like Georgia and a trip to Tuscaloosa left on the schedule.

The drawbacks are they still must play LSU and Mississippi State twice and only three of the five games are at home. That’s a tall order for any team.

Auburn has been very inconsistent. They have a terrible loss to Mercer and a couple other bad losses on their resume. They also only have one win over a top 50 team. Both of those things are keeping Auburn out of tournament consideration right now.

Can Jeff Lebo and Auburn pull off a miracle?

UAB is in much better shape. According to the latest RPI, the Blazers are 32, which puts them on the bubble. Their RPI strength of schedule should be improved because they still have to play Memphis.

The problem is UAB doesn’t have any depth. If they get into an significant foul trouble, you can pretty much count out the Blazers, especially if it involves Robert Vaden.

The good news is Birmingham’s team is the best shooting team in Conference USA, and they are ranked 45th nationally. Keep in mind, this is all without having a dominant post player. Most of the teams above UAB have good post players, which will improve the shooting statistics tremendously.

You can attribute that to Vaden. UAB has lived by the jump shot, and that has kept them alive this year.

The question for UAB is whether they can at least play Memphis well, win the rest and make it to the conference championship game. It would help more if the Blazers found a way to beat the Memphis. If so, UAB will break into the tournament again.

Auburn and UAB are our best shots. I just don’t know whether those shots will be airballs or nothing but net.