College Basketball Odds, Picks: for North Texas vs. UAB: Back the Blazers in Saturday Showdown
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Andy Kennedy (UAB)
- The UAB Blazers take on the North Texas Mean Green in a Saturday afternoon college basketball showdown.
- These are the leading teams in Conference USA, so this game will go a long way in conference tournament seeding.
- Check out Keg's top bet for this Saturday showdown below.
North Texas vs. UAB Odds
|North Texas Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
One of the biggest mid-major matchups of the season will occur on Saturday, as the North Texas Mean Green travel to Birmingham to take on the UAB Blazers.
North Texas enters this matchup on one of the longest active winning streaks in all of college basketball. The Mean Green moved to 11 wins in a row after just barely escaping Florida Atlantic Thursday night.
UNT has won 17 of its last 18 and is one of just two teams in the country that is undefeated on the road this season — the other being Gonzaga. The single loss over its last 18 games came against its biggest competition in the C-USA West and its opponent on Saturday, UAB.
The Blazers don’t boast an impressive win streak like North Texas, but they’ve had a fantastic season nonetheless. Currently 20-6 overall and 10-3 in conference play, UAB has had some unexpected losses, but is still the biggest threat to the Mean Green.
All of UAB’s losses have come on the road, as well, but the biggest challenge of its season — this game — will be at home.
UAB played with a vengeance in its last game, blowing out Rice 92-68, which it lost to earlier this season on the road.
This game will be a matchup of the top two teams in the conference, but I hesitate to call it a preview of the conference championship. The Conference USA is loaded with talent and teams that have performed well throughout the year.
Six different C-USA teams rank inside the top 125 in KenPom, which is more than the WCC, the A-10 and just one less than the AAC.
Can the Mean Green avenge their only conference loss of the season and stay perfect? Or will UAB get the best of them for the second time this season?
Everything pointed to a North Texas loss in its last game at FAU. The Mean Green were on a 10-game win streak, but the Owls hadn’t lost a game at home dating back to November.
Florida Atlantic was good enough on both ends of the floor to keep up with UNT — and even better in some areas. Not to mention North Texas had one of the biggest games of its season on deck, which was a perfect sandwich spot.
But the Mean Green managed to come out of Boca Raton with a win, holding off the Owls at the end for a 54-51 final. It was a gritty and hard-fought win, and UNT did a lot of things it’ll need to do again on Saturday if it wants to get past UAB.
The first and most important is play strong defense. North Texas has been a defensive powerhouse all season, leading all of college basketball in scoring defense. They hold opponents to just 56.4 points per game.
Against FAU, that defense shined, as the Mean Green held the Owls to 25 points less than their scoring average.
No team has been better on defense in conference games — at least as far as efficiency, effective FG% and 3PT% — than North Texas.
The Blazers’ offense has recently taken some giant steps forward, scoring 80 points or more in four of their last five games. They are now 10th in the country in scoring offense, averaging 79.8 points per game.
UAB’s offense has been led by one of the best scorers in the country in Jordan Walker, whose nine-game, 20-point scoring streak finally came to an end against Rice.
Walker has also earned C-USA Player of the Week honors three times this season, and since the new year, he’s rarely missed from 3-point range or the charity stripe, hitting 49 3-pointers and going 51-of-55 from the free throw line.
In conference games, no one’s offense has been better than UAB, but how will it fare against the most potent defense the conference has to offer in North Texas?
I think the Mean Green will limit the Blazers to some extent, but it’s more than just Walker that they have to worry about. While only three players average in double digits for the Blazers, anyone on this team can go off. Against Rice, Quan Jackson — the team’s leader in steals — dropped 21 points.
The Blazers have been one of the better teams in the C-USA on the boards, coming down with 37.5 per contest. And on the offensive end, they are among the best in the nation.
UAB has been better at defending 2-point shots than North Texas, but that’s about the extent of where it excels ahead of the Mean Green defensively.
The Blazers’ most significant focus against UNT should be rebounding and forcing turnovers. When it comes to turnovers, the Blazers are 24th in college basketball, forcing opposing teams to give the ball up 16 times per game.
North Texas vs. UAB Betting Pick
UAB hasn’t lost a game at home yet this season, while North Texas hasn’t lost a game on the road. The Mean Green have been the best defense in the C-USA, while the Blazers have the best offense.
So, in a battle of strength vs. strength, which one wins?
North Texas had trouble getting past Florida Atlantic on the road. The Mean Green needed a fair amount of luck and dependable free throw shooting at the end to come away with a win.
The Blazers’ defense can stay on par with North Texas, just as FAU was able to. But I think their offense — as of late — gives them an edge over the Mean Green.
Because of that, I’m backing the Blazers. I would take UAB as high a 4.5-point favorite.
Pick: UAB -4.5 or better