I was preparing my annual 96-team tournament field. In trying to determine the last couple of teams, I kept coming back to the question of why the selection committee picked UAB. I think UAB had three things going for it:
- High RPI
- Regular-season conference champion
- Played in a highly rated conference
In particular, the fact that it won the conference championship of Conference USA, which overall had a very good RPI, was very important to the team's selection. Also, the conference did not have any obvious other at-large teams to select. I think everyone has only focused on the high RPI, but I think the latter two elements actually mattered more and will be important to my analysis of an extended 96-team tournament.