A break in March Madness odds means it's time to switch lanes to the NIT semifinals in Las Vegas, where the UAB Blazers take on the Utah Valley Wolverines.
Both teams are looking to make the NIT finals for the first time in school history. UAB (28-9) has won 11 of 12 heading into the matchup, while Utah Valley (28-8) has 12 wins in its last 14 games.
These two squads both like to play up-tempo basketball, but that doesn’t mean they’re mirror images of each other. We’ll break down how it'll all play out in our free college basketball picks for Utah Valley vs. UAB on Tuesday, March 28.
Utah Valley vs UAB best odds
Utah Valley vs UAB picks and predictions
While the nation is captivated by the unlikely Final Four in the NCAA Tournament, Utah Valley has made a bit of a miraculous run of its own in the NIT.
The unseeded Wolverines had to beat New Mexico and Colorado on the road in their first two games. Thanks to renovations at Fifth Third Arena, Utah Valley then got to host Cincinnati in the third round, winning 74-68 to advance to the semifinals.
Even playing against bigger programs, the Wolverines have continued to show some scoring punch. Utah Valley is averaging 79.3 points per game in the NIT, which is actually up from the 76.7 ppg they put up during the regular season.
The Blazers weren’t exactly expected to get this far, either. UAB earned a No. 4 seed in the NIT and started its tournament with home wins over Southern Miss and Morehead State. That set up a road date with red-hot Vanderbilt, who the Blazers dispatched 67-59.
While hardly a national power, UAB has put together a solid season thanks to a balanced, well-rounded approach. KenPom rates the Blazers as No. 44 in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, as well as 52nd in defensive efficiency. While UAB puts up an impressive 82.2 points per game, they also hold their opponents to just 71 ppg on 41.3% shooting.
With two teams that like to run the court, it’s hardly shocking that sportsbooks have put a big total on this game. However, neither of these squads are currently playing in a way that suggests a 151.5 Over/Under is on the mark for Tuesday’s game.
The Blazers have hit the Under in four straight games, and have only played to a total of 152 or higher once in their last nine games. The Wolverines have hit the Under in seven of their last 10, and have only hit the 152-point mark in three of those games, including the 83-69 win over New Mexico which hit that target on the number.
The total in this game is a reflection of the kind of offense both sides play, but seems to ignore the fact that these are solid defensive units that will challenge each other as well. It’s hard to see this one turning into a shootout, especially when we look at how these schools have played down the stretch. My money is on the Under.
My best bet: Under 151.5 (-110 at Caesars)
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Utah Valley vs UAB spread analysis
UAB opened this game as a 2-point favorite. The line has moved in the Blazers’ favor since then, with UAB -3 now becoming the consensus spread across the industry as of noon on Monday.
Utah Valley has been one of the better teams in the country against the number this year, posting a 24-9 ATS record on the season. UAB has been right at .500 for bettors, going 17-17-2 ATS.
These teams profile out similarly on the season. UAB has the most impressive victory between the two, as they beat the Florida Atlantic Owls — now in the Final Four — in one of their three meetings this season. Utah Valley doesn’t have any huge wins on its resume, though they did score a road win over Oregon, a team that is around the same level as UAB this year.
KenPom thinks the Blazers are about 2.5 points better than the Wolverines, which is right where the spread sits, while Sagarin has the two sides essentially dead even. If there’s a potential difference-maker in this game, it could be senior guard Jordan Walker, who's scoring 22.5 points per game for UAB this season.
This is a tough one to call and I’m inclined to stay off the spread and moneyline markets for this game. However, if you want a pick, I’d take the more battle-tested Blazers. Walker has been a handful for everyone he’s faced and he could easily take over this game on Tuesday.
Utah Valley vs UAB Over/Under analysis
The total for this game opened at 151.5 points and has held steady at that mark. While a few books have bumped the Over/Under up to 152 at times, it seems that the market agrees that 151.5 is the right spot for this game.
As I’ve already pointed out, I disagree. These teams play relatively quickly, but they are not Alabama or St. John’s. They’re both good offensive teams, but this isn’t a battle between Gonzaga and UConn. This is a more conventional college basketball game with some bias towards faster play.
Both teams are also rated highly on defense, however, which should keep things in check. Utah Valley holds opponents to just 38.7% shooting, one of the lowest totals in the country. UAB is solid against the 3-pointer (32.2% allowed) and opposition shooting overall (41.3%), and should be able to contain a Wolverines offense that is only shooting 32.3% from beyond the arc.
Neither of these teams has been regularly playing games in the 150s of late and there’s plenty of reason to think both defenses will have more than a few moments on Tuesday. This game won’t be boring, but 151.5 points should be out of reach in this matchup. Take the Under.
Utah Valley vs UAB betting trend to know
The Under is 10-4-1 in Utah Valley’s last 15 games overall. Find more college basketball betting trends for Utah Valley vs. UAB.
Utah Valley vs UAB game info
|Location:||Orleans Arena, Paradise, NV|
|Date:||Tuesday, March 28, 2023|
|Tip-off:||9:30 p.m. ET|