Suddenly, UIC might have a path to the NCAA Tournament

DETROIT, MI - MARCH 05: UIC Flames G Marcus Ottey (23) pushes hard to the basket against Green Bay Phoenix F Kerem Kanter (1) during the game between UIC Flames and Green Bay Phoenix in the Horizon League Tournament on March 05, 2017, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

DETROIT –  It’s OK if their tournament slipped a bit under the radar this week.

After all they finished four games under .500 in the Horizon League season and were 14-17 during the 2016-2017 season.

Yet as Illinois, Illinois State and Northwestern captured the attention of college basketball fans in the state, another team has suddenly emerged with a shot at the Big Dance.

Thanks to a flurry of upsets, including their own on Sunday, the Flames are in the Semifinals of the tournament tonight against 10th-seeded Milwaukee. They knocked off second-seeded Valparaiso on Sunday and the tournament’s No. 1 seed Oakland was upset by ninth-seeded Youngstown State as well.

That leaves Steve McClain’s Flames as the second highest team left in the tournament. They took care of business in an upset of their own in Detroit on Sunday as they beat third-seeded Green Bay 79-70 behind 16 points from Tai Odiase and Dominique Matthews.

Some good news for Flames fans is that the team beat the Panthers twice in the regular season – beating them at home 71-57 on January 17th and then 105-100 in overtime in the return game in Milwaukee on February 4th.

If UIC wins their next two games they would qualify for their fourth NCAA Tournament in program history and the first since the 2004 season.