There's no doubt that the UAB Blazers deserved to be on the bubble. Their selection by the NCAA Selection Committee was hardly an easy one, but was it really the end of the world that UAB was selected? UAB won a conference widely considered to be the 8th best in the nation. Conference USA had 8 teams in the RPI Top 100. While the RPI is hardly the most accurate measure of the quality of a ball club, that doesn't stop ESPN's own Bracketologists from using it in their decision making.
Some of the panelists even believe Virginia Commonwealth was more deserving than UAB. Keep in mind that UAB beat VCU head to head. VCU finished 4th in the Colonial Athletic Association. They had 7 conference losses in a league with 6 RPI Top 100 teams. I won't go too far into the bubble comparison, Asalom has already done a great job of doing that here.
What changed besides UAB beating UTEP and winning the regular season outright? Not sure, but I know the C-USA/ESPN Television Contract is a little different now:
The good news is that nobody remembers who the "experts" thought should have been in the NCAA Tournament last year. Now, its time for UAB to do something they couldn't do in El Paso. ECU outplayed UAB in every facet of the game. Despite a nice game from Aaron Johnson, ECU dominated the Blazers in the post. Jamarr Sanders was a non-factor, and Darrius Morrow simply dominated every big man UAB threw at him. Hopefully videos like the one above, and rants from Dick Vitale and others from the World Wide Leader, will motivate UAB. Because the worst thing that could happen for this league is if UAB doesn't show up, and proves the "experts" right.