Western Kentucky vs. UAB Odds, Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide

Western Kentucky vs. UAB Odds, Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide article feature image

Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dayvion McKnight (Western Kentucky)

  • UAB is desparate for a victory in Conference USA play as it hosts Western Kentucky on Wednesday evening.
  • With the spread almost up to 13, could there be another bet in play for this C-USA showdown?
  • Charlie DiSturco breaks it all down and provides two potential plays.

Western Kentucky vs. UAB Odds

Wednesday, Jan. 11
9 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Western Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
UAB Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

UAB looks to bounce back from a recent two-game skid as it returns home to Bartow Arena to welcome in Conference USA foe Western Kentucky on Wednesday night.

The Blazers had opened C-USA play a perfect 3-0 before losing to Florida Atlantic by two and FIU by three in overtime. Andy Kennedy's squad has postseason aspirations and have the talent to do it; the success just needs to follow suit.

Western Kentucky, meanwhile, is just 1-3 in conference play, but did right the ship with a win at UTSA on Saturday. It had begun the season 8-1, but has since fell back down to Earth.

Will UAB be able to bounce back and dominate a lesser Hilltoppers team at home, or will its losing woes continue?

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Western Kentucky finally took home its first win in Conference USA play on Saturday, snapping a five-game skid.

The Hilltoppers are an interesting team. They're 32nd in Division I experience and eighth in average height. As expected, they are great at defending inside the perimeter and block shots with ease.

Much of that comes from 7-foot-5 Jamarion Sharp, who is the No. 1 shot blocker in college basketball (17.6%). But Boise State transfer Emmanuel Akot and 6-foot-8 Jairus Hamilton also provide steady length for their zone defense.

While WKU is the 42nd-best team in 2-point defense, its biggest issue has been the ineffectiveness of its zone defense. Opponents attempt 41% of all field goals from 3 and convert at a 36.3% clip. That's 299th in the country.

This isn't a disruptive defense. Unlike most zones, Western Kentucky forces turnovers at an average rate. It gives up a ton of second-chance opportunities because of the zone, too.

The Hilltoppers are about as average as it gets on the offensive end, too. While they're excellent at controlling possession, they're 154th in eFG%. They don't create many second-chance opportunities, rarely attempt 3s (228th 3PA/FGA) and are 263rd in FT%.

The offense runs through Dayvion McKnight, who is used on 30.2% of all possessions and is just outside the top 100 in assist rate. The do-it-all guard leads the team in points (17.0) and assists (4.2), and adds 5.1 rebounds per game, too.

His biggest weakness is his inability to shoot. He's just 3-for-17 from 3 this season.

Akot and Luke Frampton have provided a steadiness from the perimeter, but will draw difficult defensive matchups against an athletic UAB bunch.

The Toppers are not a deep squad, either, ranking 333rd in bench minutes.

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UAB Blazers

A red-hot start to Conference USA play has been met with two straight road losses by one possession. UAB has all the makings of a Cinderella team in March, but it's likely played itself out of an at-large bid.

The Blazers are led by Jordan "Jelly" Walker. He takes 34.6% of all shots when on the floor and averages 23.5 points per game. He's the star of the offense, and UAB goes as the senior does. He also averages 4.5 assists per game.

UAB loves to run-and-gun on the offensive end. It prefers not to settle into the half-court and instead, attacks the rim with force.

While the Blazers a solid 3-point shooting team, they're just 315th in 3PA/FGA. A lot of that has to do with their third-fastest offense (14.9 seconds per possession).

Seniors KJ Buffen and Trey Jemison have become staples in Andy Kennedy's offense, and are both elite rebounders. The duo combine for 14.6 rebounds per game and sit inside the top 80 in offensive rebounding rate. As a team, UAB is 12th in that category.

The Blazers get to the free-throw line at a top-40 rate and are efficient with their opportunities. This is an experienced team — fifth in Division I experience — made up of former transfers. This rag-tag group should not be taken lightly.

Defensively, UAB is 62nd in turnover rate and inside the top 100 in both 2-point defense and eFG%. Unlike its fast-paced offense, its defense often works out of the half-court.

Jemison is an elite shot blocker — 29th in block rate — and LSU transfer Eric Gaines has brought a breath of fresh air on the defensive end alongside Walker.

Because of its extended zone pressure, UAB does allow plenty of offensive rebounds. The Blazers are 256th in that category. But their multitude of athletic on-ball defenders force opponents into tough situations and difficult shots.

That leads to plenty of turnovers and transition opportunities, which UAB is no stranger to.

Western Kentucky vs. UAB Betting Pick

Wednesday night sets up to be a very interesting game. These are two defenses that often get back and set up in their zone, forcing longer possessions out of their opponents.

But on the offensive end, they love to push tempo.

UAB has the clear advantage here. It's at home and it has the better offensive firepower and on-ball defenders to disrupt Western Kentucky.

That's bad news for Hilltoppers star McKnight, who struggles to shoot the 3. The last time these two teams faced, McKnight had just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.

This is a must-win game for the Blazers after losing two straight. Their offense has the necessary pieces to break down a zone like Western Kentucky, and their physicality inside should create enough second-chance opportunities for a double-digit win.

As of now, the spread in this matchup is a bit much for my liking, but I do think the total is a tad too high.

It's never fun to fade the Blazers' run-and-gun offense, but the pace for this game sets up to be slower than anticipated.

Western Kentucky isn't a great offensive rebounding team because it likes to get back and sit in the zone. UAB's defensive pressure is disruptive, and while it may force plenty of turnovers, it'll also come late in the shot clock from the Hilltoppers trying to find a way inside.

Last year, with similar squads, neither team broke 70 points. The year before that? The two didn't break 130.

You would expect these two teams to shoot quick and think later, but that hasn't been the case in recent years.

And here's a prop that I would look toward if they are offered: I'm looking to fade McKnight.

He has never broken 13 points in a game against UAB, and while he takes over a quarter of the shots when on the floor, the Blazers' extended zone pressure should take away his ability to drive into the paint.

And because he's not a shooter, he'll look to pass more.

Look for his under, if it's offered.

It's always scary to take a full-game Blazers under — especially after three straight games of 86+ points — but hold your nose and jump aboard.

Pick: Under 151.5 (Play to 148) | D. McKnight Under Total Points

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