Championship Features Conference USA Clash
What a year it’s been for Conference USA. Florida Atlantic has made a shocking run to the Final Four, and now No. 4 UAB (29-9) and No. 2 North Texas (30-7) will collide in the NIT Championship. UAB comes off an 88-86 win in overtime against Utah Valley, and North Texas pulled off a shocking comeback with a 56-54 win against Wisconsin.
College basketball picks favoring both teams have performed well. The Blazers are 3-1 against the spread (ATS) in the last four games, while the Mean Green has covered three consecutive games. However, something must give in Thursday’s championship game. Let’s look at the latest college basketball news surrounding the collision between conference foes.
UAB Seeking Improved Efficiency
Thanks to converted free throws in the clutch, UAB was able to inch out Utah Valley for a win. It was an up-and-down game with a quick pace, as the Blazers attempted 79 field goals. For comparison, UAB average 63.5 attempted field goals per game, which ranks seventh nationally. Despite shooting only 40.5%, the Blazers won thanks to plenty of shot attempts.
To cover Las Vegas odds’ point spread against North Texas, UAB’s offense must be more efficient. The Mean Green feature one of the nation’s top defenses, ranking 18th in efficiency, first in allowed points per game and ninth in opponent shooting percentage.
Blazers forward Ty Brewer stepped up with a 30-point performance in Tuesday’s win over Utah Valley. Brewer has scored at least 25 points in two of the last three. However, he is unpredictable. In the quarterfinal, Brewer scored two points. Unlikely contributions have kept UAB afloat, but its star must rise to the occasion. Guard Jordan Walker (22.3 points) shot only five of 23 in the last game. Walker has shot under 36.5% in five straight games.
Mean Green’s Defense Strikes Again
Headed into Tuesday’s game between Wisconsin and North Texas, we knew it would likely be a defensive battle. The Mean Green started slow, trailing 41-29 at halftime. The defense tightened the clamps in the second half with a stunning performance.
Wisconsin was held to 13 points in the second half. North Texas was down 54-46 with 9:08 remaining. The Badgers would not score another point, as the Mean Green won 56-54. Of course, this was a combination of Wisconsin’s bad offense and North Texas’ impressive defense. However, holding any opponent scoreless in the final nine minutes is an achievement to behold.
Wisconsin doesn’t score a single point for the last NINE MINUTES of the game, and North Texas moves on to the NIT Championship.
The total was set at 115.5, if you were wondering. 😵💫 pic.twitter.com/yFlzwRrQdh
— Covers (@Covers) March 29, 2023
The sportsbook lists the Mean Green as underdogs against UAB. However, college basketball lines projected total sits at only 127½. If the total stays around this number, North Texas will be in terrific shape. Hitting the under could make the Mean Green a lock. The Blazers have gone under in four of the last five. North Texas will have one vital goal on Thursday – make it a slow-paced, defensive game.
UAB vs North Texas Game Injuries
UAB vs North Texas Head-to-Head
UAB and North Texas are familiar programs, as the two meet at least twice per season in conference play. The series is split in the last 10 meetings and both are 5-5 ATS during the span.
UAB vs North Texas Game Information
- Game: UAB (29-9) vs North Texas (30-7)
- Location: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
- Day/Time: Thursday, March 30, 9:30 p.m. ET
- UAB vs North Texas Live stream: TBS.com
UAB vs North Texas Betting Lines
UAB vs North Texas Picks and Prediction
If UAB’s shot attempts are limited, North Texas should win this one. The Mean Green have the nation’s slowest pace, while the Blazers play quicker than 91% of teams. This will be a constant battle of controlling the pace.
Ultimately, the Blazers’ big rebounding advantage could be too much. They rank 12th in defensive rebounds per game, second in offensive rebounds per game and ninth in offensive rebounding percentage. North Texas ranks 210th in defensive rebounding. Thanks to an advantage in rebounding, UAB will cover NCAA basketball lines’ two-point spread.
UAB is listed at -130 in our Las Vegas college basketball lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Blazers, you have a chance to win $77. North Texas is +110, offering a chance to win $110 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives UAB a 56.52% chance to win, with the Mean Green at 47.62%.