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UAB vs. West Virginia Betting Odds & Picks: Back the Mid-Major Underdog

UAB vs. West Virginia Betting Odds & Picks: Back the Mid-Major Underdog article feature image
Credit:

Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Toussaint

UAB vs. West Virginia Odds

Saturday, Dec. 10
6 p.m. ET
ESPN+
UAB Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+5.5
-106
152.5
-110o / -110u
+210
West Virginia Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-5.5
-114
152.5
-110o / -110u
-260
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

UAB takes on West Virginia in an early, non-conference college basketball game, with the Blazers looking for a resume-building win against a Big 12 foe.

Can UAB seal a victory that would help serve as “at-large insurance” should it fail to win the automatic Conference USA bid? Or, will the Mountaineers tally another win in response to an uncharacteristically poor season in 2021-2022.


UAB Blazers

UAB’s lone blemish this season came via a loss to Toledo on a neutral court in Philadelphia. Andy Kennedy’s team has responded with nothing but victories since, all in a resounding manner.

Unfortunately for the Blazers, none of their wins will provide much of a boost to their resume as it will be presented to the tournament selection committee. A win in Morgantown in the Blazers’ first true road game of the season would certainly provide said resume boost.

UAB’s scoring attack is led by senior guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker. Walker gained notoriety last season for more than his indelible nickname. Jelly’s impressive performances led UAB to the CUSA title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament, where they would ultimately run into a Houston Cougar buzz-saw.

In seven games this year, Walker is averaging 25.7 points per game in addition to almost 5 assists per game. UAB’s success is often determined by the nightly performance of Walker, as evidenced by KenPom rating him the game MVP in four of the Blazers’ seven wins.

The loss to Toledo was perhaps a peek into the defensive weaknesses UAB has when facing more talented opponents. Toledo was able to win a high-possession battle and tally 93 points, a total that was easily the highest the Blazers have conceded all year.

The specific weakness was UAB’s inability to keep Toledo’s guards in check and prevent penetration. If Kennedy is unable to address that weakness, West Virginia’s transfer backcourt featuring Joe Toussaint and Erik Stevenson figures to feast.

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West Virginia Mountaineers

Breaking news: Bob Huggins isn’t publicly complimentary of his team. In regard to his team’s recent defensive effort, Huggins remarked, “when they really want to (guard), (they) are pretty good with it. When (they) don’t want to, (they) end up on the sideline.”

What else is new?

Fortunately, his criticism of this year’s version of the Mountaineers can be construed as more of a challenge to his leaders than an indictment of his team’s ability. Last year’s Huggins pressers were a bit depressing, leaving fans to wonder if the program was headed for a fall from grace. Resounding wins over Pitt and Florida early have eased the tension created by a last place Big 12 finish a year ago.

The transfer portal may be controversial, but a clear benefit from a coaching perspective is the ability to change your team’s identity overnight. Seven total transfers have helped Huggins in his effort to do just that. Although the Big 12 will be as difficult as ever, the Mountaineers appear to be on track to earn their way back into the NCAA Tournament.

And, as home court advantage continues to seemingly be diminishing by the year, WVU Coliseum still presents a true challenge for a visitor like UAB.

Perhaps the most important incoming transfer was poached from conference foe Texas: forward Tre Mitchell. Mitchell’s impact as an interior presence that can also stretch defenses with perimeter shooting has proven to be a difficult formula for Mountaineer opponents to solve.

Mitchell has averaged almost exactly one three-point make per game. It may not sound like much, but forcing a defense to respect Mitchell’s ability to shoot from beyond the arc often forces his defender to leave the paint. At 6-foot-9, Mitchell is often forcing a rim protector away from the bucket when he steps out, opening driving lanes and easier finishes for his backcourt.


UAB vs. West Virginia Betting Pick

There is plenty of motivation for both sides to earn a win that could prove valuable for two at-large hopefuls. Depth likely favors the Mountaineers, especially considering the expected pace of this contest.

However, I truly believe the best player on the floor will be donning the green, gold and white for UAB. Walker’s veteran leadership and composure in a tough road environment is why I am trusting UAB to keep this one close.

If the Blazers can hang tough on the defensive glass against a slightly bigger West Virginia team, they may even be able to snag that important resume boosting win.

If you like the Blazers in this one, I wouldn’t try to talk you out of putting a half-unit on UAB moneyline +205 as well.

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