Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Indiana, Kansas, and Maryland among 10 early 2024 offseason winners

Nebraska v Indiana
Nebraska v Indiana / David Berding/GettyImages
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4. UAB Blazers

I tend to like throwing a non-power conference team in a list to switch things up but if you haven’t paid attention, UAB has been having just about the perfect offseason, coming off the surprise AAC Tournament win and appearance in the Big Dance.

Throughout the end of the season, there was plenty of talk that forward and breakout star Yaxel Landeborg (13.8 ppg and 10.6 rpg), would hit the portal to move up. Instead, the reigning AAC Defensive Player of the Year announced his return to the Blazers, a pleasant surprise compared to the rest of the league outside of Memphis, who have lost all of their stars.

Other key players are coming back too, including double-digit scorers, Alejandro Vasquez, along with Efrem “Butta” Johnson. And they’ve managed to land a couple of prolific scoring guards from the portal. Tyren Moore is a 5’11 guard from Georgia Southern, who averaged 17.0 ppg on 41% 3PT, while Greg Gordon is a 6’5 guard from Iona, coming off 16.0 ppg and 7.3 rpg.

The only real loss to this point is Eric Gaines, an athletic wing who is off to the NBA Draft. But overall, UAB is the rare non-power conference team that on paper, clearly got better and kept its star. Memphis may add some pieces in the future weeks to get back to being the team to beat in the AAC but right now, that distinction belongs to the Blazers.