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FINAL UAB 60, IOWA STATE 59: So No. 14 Alabama Birmingham just defeated No. 3 Iowa State. People will say that the Cyclones faltered because their star player, Georges Niang spent a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble, but the truth of the matter is that Iowa State didn't play a good game across-the-board and was not able to notch its sixth consecutive come-from-behind victory to advance. The key to UAB's win was not pretty shooting, the team shot worse than Iowa State. Instead it was aggressive rebounding, especially in Niang's absence, that made the difference. The Blazers out-rebounded ISU 19-to-9 on the offensive glass and 33-to-28 on defense.
Ninety-six percent of Yahoo Fantasy brackets had the Cyclones moving on, so if you didn't, you're in good (or at least expansive) company. But if we're all being honest with each other — can we be honest with each other for minute? — seven teams from the Big 12 conference maybe was too many teams from the Big 12. Time will tell how Bill Self's Kansas team does or Rick Barnes' Texas squad, but those two guys, and especially the latter, have patchy NCAA tournament records at best. I could be wrong, in which case, pin this to your bulletin board and let me know. But before the day's games started, every pundit with a microphone on sports programs across the country wondered whether this year's tournament would involve the most chalk ever. And while it's still possible that Iowa State is the outlier here, maybe that view was informed (skewed?) more by Kentucky being undefeated and less by everyone at the top being so much better than everyone else at the bottom.