BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)- The odds aren’t usually with a 14-seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Since 1986, 14-seeds are just 18-98 against their 3-seed counterparts. That didn’t stop a throng of UAB fans from sending off their 14th seeded Blazers with the excitement usually coupled with an expectation to win. “We, as fans and as a school, have had some tough times the past few months,” said UAB senior Courtney Campbell. “So to have such a huge victory, I think it’s good to have pride back in the university.”
UAB takes on Iowa State Thursday in the Round of 64.
The pride will make its way up I-65 Thursday morning. Several buses are already planned to caravan UAB fans to the game in Louisville. One bus, which was organized by David Cochran, Jr., will leave around 3:45 A.M. on Thursday to make it to the 11:40 tip-off. “Even though it’s only a five and a half hour drive, it’s a lot more fun when you can take a big group of people together,” said Cochran, Jr. He added that another bus is on stand-by in case enough interest is shown.
The team and the game are the reason for the Blazer fanbase heading north, but the national stage will also allow the chance to send a big message. Since last fall, “UAB” has usually been preceded by, “Free,” along with other chants calling for the firing of UAB president Dr. Ray Watts. “We would be remiss not to make a statement,” said Cochran, Jr. “I think we can expect some chants that we saw at the [Conference USA] championship games,” said Campbell.
Whether the support was purely for hoops or with a hint of football, David Dyck was just glad to see green and gold in the streets of Birmingham. “With everything that’s going on with UAB athletics, it makes it special to see the community really does support the athletic program.”