West Virginia vs. UAB Odds, Picks: How to Bet Saturday’s College Basketball Matchup

West Virginia vs. UAB Odds, Picks: How to Bet Saturday’s College Basketball Matchup article feature image

Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Quan Jackson

  • West Virginia takes on UAB in college basketball action on Saturday afternoon.
  • Updated odds make the Blazers -3.5 favorites over the Big 12's Mountaineers.
  • Charlie DiSturco shares his top bet for this college hoops game below.

West Virginia vs. UAB Odds

Saturday, Dec. 18
5 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
West Virginia Odds
-112o / -108u
UAB Odds
-112o / -108u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

In its biggest home game of the year, UAB welcomes the red-hot West Virginia Mountaineers for a Saturday evening showdown at Bartow Arena. 

After an early-season loss to Marquette, West Virginia has won six straight, including wins over Connecticut and Clemson. 

Meanwhile, rising mid-major foe UAB enters on a four-game win streak that includes a road win at Saint Louis. The Blazers have dominated on their home floor this season, winning all seven matchups by double digits. 

Can UAB — which is quickly becoming the favorite in the Conference USA — take down its first Power 5 opponent? Or will the Mountaineers continue their win streak as non-conference play winds down?

West Virginia Mountaineers

This West Virginia team doesn't feature the efficient offense of last year, rather the Mountaineers have returned to old ways — defense first. 

Bob Huggins’ squad forces turnovers 27.7% of the time, second in the entire country, per KenPom. The Mountaineers rank 38th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and much of that has to do with the on-ball pressure and success defending on the perimeter. 

The ramp up in defensive pressure has often left opponents struggling. The Mountaineers have given up more than 60 points just three times through their first 10 games.

Their biggest weakness, however, has been second-chance opportunities. They rank 315th in the country in opponents’ offensive rebounding percentage (33.5), and that has led to a dip in two-point defense (50.6%). 

West Virginia has been able to grind out these low-scoring affairs that include wins over Clemson and Connecticut — without star Adama Sanogo. Much of that has to do with Taz Sherman’s breakout.

Sherman has taken over as the workhorse of the offense without Miles McBride and Derek Culver. The 6-foot-4 forward takes 33.5% of the shots when on the floor and draws fouls at the 39th-highest rate in the country, per KenPom. 

This isn’t a team that will beat you from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers are effective inside the paint and their athleticism and length around the interior leads to plenty of second-chance opportunities. 

However, while they draw plenty of fouls, WVU shoots a combined 60.3% from the free-throw line. Sherman and Sean McNeil are the only two players that have a free-throw percentage better than 55% (both sit at 76%). 

While this hasn’t been a problem yet in close games, the pendulum could swing due to struggles at the charity stripe. 

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UAB Blazers

Since being named head coach last season, Andy Kennedy has taken UAB from a middle-of-the-pack Conference USA team to the odds-on favorite in 2021-22. 

This isn’t a mid-major team to take lightly. The Blazers have yet to lose on their home floor, lost by two points to San Francisco and went into Saint Louis and beat the Billikens by five. 

It starts with the defense, where the on-ball pressure creates turnovers at a 26.8% rate (eighth in the country).

Just like last season, Quan Jackson is back to his disruptive self. After two seasons finishing inside the top 20 in steal rate, he sits at fifth through nine games. 

Though UAB is able to step into passing lanes and force plenty of turnovers, it has also contributed toward its struggles defending the 3 ball. Opponents are shooting at a 38.2% clip (326th in the country). It’s a rare area where Kennedy’s defense lags behind.

The biggest difference from this Blazers team compared to last year is offense. Tulane transfer Jordan Walker has been a breath of fresh air and is the quarterback and go-to scorer of the offense. He takes 31.7% of the shots while on the floor and shoots 3s at a blistering 45.8% rate. 

This is a UAB team that won’t make mistakes on the offensive end. The Blazers like to push the tempo and rarely turn the ball over.

On missed shots, the athletic frontcourt — that consists of a rotation of KJ Buffen (Ole Miss), Josh LeBlanc (LSU) and Trey Jemison — crashes the boards and creates plenty of second-chance opportunities.

All three players rank inside the top 100 in offensive rebounding rate and provide stability inside the paint on both ends of the floor.

While UAB shoots the ball well, 57% of its points come from inside the arc. That offensive success helps lead to double teams in the post, creating open looks for players like Walker to take advantage of. 

West Virginia vs. UAB Betting Pick

To me, this is a perfect spot for UAB to get a signature win on its resume and take down West Virginia at home. I wouldn't even go as far as calling it an upset — they did open up as 3.5-point favorites after all.

Kennedy has a dominant defense that shouldn't be taken lightly. I think the Blazers match up well and should give Malik Curry and McNeil plenty of fits throughout Saturday evening.

Adding Walker to the offense will pay dividends for UAB, which normally would struggle to score in big games like these. This is a well-rounded Blazers squad filled with transfers that will wake up for their biggest home game of the season.

Meanwhile, I think this West Virginia team is a bit overvalued. Yes, the Mountaineers beat Connecticut, but it was by three and star big Sanogo was out. Now, they have a test against a fully-healthy Blazers squad.

The only area where WVU could exploit UAB's stout defense is also its biggest weakness: from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers thrive on working out of their half-court offense, slowing down the pace and attacking inside. That's exactly what UAB wants you to do.

Tack on the fact that West Virginia shoots 60% as a team from the free-throw line, and I think the Blazers pull out this defensive battle and cover on their home floor.

Pick: UAB -3.5

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