College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for UAB vs. Western Kentucky (Thursday, January 27)
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Walker.
- UAB is favored tonight on the road against Western Kentucky.
- The Blazers are tied for first place in C-USA, while the Hilltoppers need to end a losing streak.
- Keg taps into the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
UAB vs. Western Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
|Western Kentucky Odds|
-110o / -110u
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will look to stop their three-game losing streak when they square off against the Conference USA-leading UAB Blazers on Thursday night.
UAB is looking hot as ever, currently riding a four-game win streak and coming off a win over rival Louisiana Tech last time out. The 83-76 victory on Saturday moved UAB into a tie for first place in Group B in the conference at 6-1.
The Blazers are first in the standings and lead the league in scoring offense, steals per game, scoring margin, field goal percentage defense and overall winning percentage.
Since head coach Andy Kennedy arrived at UAB, the Blazers have fared well against the Western Kentucky, going 5-1 during his tenure. UAB is also 2-1 on the road against the Hilltoppers.
On the other side, WKU head coach Rick Stansbury and his team are looking for any sense of rhythm. Currently 2-4 in conference play, this WKU team hasn’t looked good since taking Louisiana Tech down to the wire before losing by one point.
But, there’s one sure-fire way to get players and fans motivated when a team is in a slump, that’s by having a blackout and giving away free T-shirts:
⚫️ 𝙱𝚊𝚌𝚔 𝚒𝚗 𝙱𝚕𝚊𝚌𝚔 ⚫️
— WKU Hilltopper Basketball (@WKUBasketball) January 26, 2022
Will that be enough to get the Hilltoppers fired up before they take on the best team in the conference?
The Blazers offense is the highest-scoring in Conference USA and the 17th best nationally at 79 points per game. That offensive output is mainly due to Jordan Walker, who earned C-USA Player of the Week honors for the second straight week.
Walker leads the Blazers and ranks fourth in Conference USA at 17.9 points per game, and he also ranks second in the conference with an 88.3% mark from the free throw line.
UAB has been great in nearly every area on offense while also moving at one of the faster paces in the conference, ranking 77th nationally in adjusted tempo and fourth in C-USA.
However, there may be one weakness in matching up with the Hilltoppers, and that’s how heavily reliant the Blazers are on scoring around the basket. Coming into this one, 54.9% of UAB’s points come from 2-point shots.
UAB is also usually an excellent rebounding team, pulling down 38.1 per game. It’s hard to imagine those numbers won’t take a hit when they face off against the tallest player in Division I.
While the Blazers offense has been great, the defense has been just as good. They are limiting opposing teams to an effective field goal percentage of 46.5%. UAB also ranks fifth nationally with 360 total turnovers forced this season, and Western Kentucky has turned the ball over on 19.8% of offensive possessions.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have been up and down all season, but it’s been a disappointing campaign as a whole, especially for someone like me who had high hopes for them this season.
WKU has been solid offensively at 73.9 points per game and a 46.4% mark from the field. As I mentioned before, though, the Hilltoppers have struggled with ball security. They rank 241st in turnover percentage and an even worse 265th in steal percentage.
Davion McKnight has led the Western offense with 15 points and 6.3 assists per game.
The biggest (literally) area of concern for UAB will be 7-foot-5 Jamarion Sharp, who leads Western Kentucky in rebounds and blocks while scoring 8.3 points per game. He leads the nation with 4.4 blocks per game.
Getting past Sharp will be a challenge on both ends of the court and to make matters even worse for UAB, the Hilltoppers lead the country in the fewest fouls per game, committing just 12.4 per contest.
However, as a team, Western Kentucky allows opponents to score 72.4 points per game and is also giving up 37 rebounds per game, both of which rank outside the top 200 nationally, according to KenPom.
Also, UAB has been a threat from 3-point range all season, while the Hilltoppers have struggled to defend the perimeter. WKU is allowing opponents to shoot 35.6% from deep this season.
The Hilltoppers defense will need to step up in a big way to pull off the upset.
UAB vs. Western Kentucky Betting Pick
The Hilltoppers are in dire need of a win, but that’s hard to come by when you’re facing off against the best team in the C-USA.
While I don’t know if Western Kentucky will win, I do believe it will give it a strong effort. Unfortunately, if the Hilltoppers can defend around the basket, I know UAB has the ability to look for more shots around the perimeter and find success. If the Blazers are hitting from deep, I expect the Hilltoppers to take the same approach.
Because of that, I’m taking the over. The number opened higher than I expected at 150, but I would still feel comfortable taking it as high as 152.5