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Data shows UAB fields one of nation’s elite basketball programs

It’s been a banner decade for men’s basketball teams in the state of Alabama.

The Auburn Tigers set the tone in 2019, coming seconds short of a national championship berth. The Alabama Crimson Tide, likely the nation’s number one team this fall, made their first-ever Final Four appearance three months ago. Just last season, the once-downtrodden Samford Bulldogs rode a stable of scrappy veterans to the greatest year in school history.

But among the state’s recent successes, it shouldn’t be overlooked that one of the nation’s winningest basketball programs continues to be a model of consistency.

The UAB Blazers have been one of the country’s finest mid-major teams over their 46-year history, often ranked as one of the 75 greatest college basketball programs of all time. The last four seasons have been no different: since head coach Andy Kennedy arrived in 2020, UAB has won 101 games, captured two conference championships, and appeared in the NCAA Tournament multiple times.

UAB’s recent dominance is historic. According to Sports-Reference, a repository of college basketball data, the Blazers have racked up more wins this decade than all but 9 Division 1 teams.

Since 2020, UAB has recorded more victories than Auburn, Tennessee, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and Villanova, has far outpaced prominent mid-majors like Loyola Chicago, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Dayton, and St. Mary’s, and has blown prominent intra-conference rivals like Wichita State and Temple out of the water.

Samford, another successful in-state mid-major, has won 24 fewer games than UAB since 2020. Over the same time period, the Blazers have won 21 games against the KenPom top 100 to the Bulldogs’ 2.

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According to data from the NCAA, UAB’s all-time winning percentage is 63.07%, the 28th-highest mark among the country’s D1 programs. That number leads all teams in the state of Alabama, with UA ranking 34th nationally (62%) and Auburn outside of the top 50. Among programs outside of the ‘Power Six’ conferences, UAB ranks 10th in winning percentage, trailing only traditional powerhouses like UNLV.

Much of the Blazers’ success can be attributed to one of the strongest retention rates of any team in the nation. The Blazers have never had a star player transfer in the history of the program, and that streak has continued during the NIL era.

“I think there’s a belief here, there’s a trust that, hey, I’m going to come here and these guys are going to do what they say they’re going to do, they’re going to put me in the best position possible,” Kennedy told Yellowhammer in April.

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Using the transfer portal, the Blazers have accumulated stockpiles of talent while losing very little.

“A lot of [our] guys have been transient, two, three different schools along the way, and they’re looking for some stability to grow on that,” Kennedy said. “And what platform could be better than the one that we have provided?”

Once again, the Blazers are projected to be among the nation’s elite next season. UAB returns star forward Yaxel Lendeborg, along with nearly their entire core, and adds several highly-touted transfers.

Charles Vaughan is a sports analyst and contributing writer for Yellowhammer News.

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