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What you need to know: BYU vs the University of Alabama at Birmingham preview

The Cougars missed out on a spot in the NCAA Tournament but earned a #2 seed against the #7 seeded Blazers in the NIT.

Robert Brown looks to lead the Blazers against the Cougars in Provo
Robert Brown looks to lead the Blazers against the Cougars in Provo
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The BYU Cougars and the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (UAB Blazers) have met three times in the history of the two programs. The first was in 1984 with the last being in 1989. The Cougars currently hold a 2 to 1 advantage in wins over the Blazers and will try to get their third win on Wednesday night.

The Outlook

The Cougars are coming off a disappointing loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the semi-finals of the West Coast Conference Tournament. Although nobody expected to hear the Cougars name on Sunday as part of the NCAA Tournament, it is still disappointing that the team didn't do enough to earn a berth. However, the Cougars are looked at as one of the better teams in the NIT as they were given a 2 seed and a home game. It is yet to be seen how the team will respond to playing in the NIT. The team could come out and show that they were disappointed and lay an egg, or more likely, they will come out ready to play and to show that they are excited to continue their season in front of their home crowd.

If the Cougars win the game over the Blazers they will then face either 3rd seeded Virginia Tech or 6th seeded Princeton. Here is the complete NIT Bracket.

The Keys to Watch

When the Blazers have the ball:

Watch for the Blazers to look to their three headed dragon on offense. Senior guard Robert Brown leads the team in points with 13.5 per game, along with his 3.1 assists. Head number two is sophomore forward Chris Cokley. Cokley is right on the heels of Brown with 13.1 points per game and leads the team in rebounds with 6.4. The third member is sophomore forward William Lee. He is the third member of the team to score in double digits as he averages 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Don't sleep on Nick Norton either as he scores nine points per game but also dishes out over five assists per game. Watch for the Blazers to share the ball and keep up a fast tempo on offense as they average 79 points per game.

Watch for the Cougars to focus on defense and not allow the Blazers to run their offense. Watch for the Cougars to play physical as they try to protect the paint and not give up easy shots. The Cougars rebound just a little bit better than the Blazers and so watch for them to prevent offensive rebounds after missed shots, and keeping the Blazers out of rhythm. Watch for the Cougars to exploit the offense with hands in the lanes and creating turnovers.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to continue their fast paced offense as they look to score quickly while tiring out the other team. The Cougars will continue to throw up shots from all over the floor but still play a bit of the inside out game. When the Cougars big men are hitting shots from inside, the outside opens up for Nick Emery, Chase Fischer, and Zac Seljaas. Kyle Collinsworth will also have something to say about that as he forces defenses to account for him all over the floor, usually drawing double teams.

Watch for the Blazers to defend the paint early and not allow the Cougars to get easy shots inside. The Blazers will allow the Cougars to take some longer shots in order to keep the Cougars from getting points early in the paint and opening up their full game. Watch for the Blazers to disrupt the Cougars offense and try to slow them down just a bit as they keep the pace faster, but not the pace the Cougars want. Watch for the Blazers to not be intimidated by the Cougars and play a physical style of defense that will lead to blocked shots and Cougar turnovers.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 8 pm MST

Where: Marriott Center-Provo, Utah

TV: ESPNU

Internet: www.watchespn.com

Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here