UTEP vs. Rice
NCAA Basketball: Saturday, February 18th, 8:00 pm EST
Line: Rice -8
UTEP heads to Rice to take on the Owls on Saturday night in a battle of teams three games above .500 in Conference USA. In a conference that only has one really good team in Middle Tennessee State, I think either of these teams could make a run in the C-USA tournament, and this game will matter quite a bit for who gets the higher seed. Both teams won on Thursday night to move their record to 8-5. UTEP beat North Texas 77-71 and Rice beat UT San Antonio 80-68.
UTEP and Rice are now part of four teams who are 8-5 in conference and sitting in third place. They all trail Middle Tennessee State by 4.5 games and Louisiana Tech by 2.5. This is a big game on Saturday.
UTEP needs OT in win
UTEP needed a little extra basketball to beat North Texas on Thursday night. They won 77-71, but this is not one they will be showing incoming recruits as North Texas is 1-2 in conference this year. Paul Thomas scored a career high 23 points, but the real star was Dominic Artis. He outscored the Mean Green himself in overtime (10-8) and finished with 19 points.
Thomas may have had more points, but scoring 10 points in overtime will get you the game ball any day. He also pitched in with five rebounds, two assists, and three steals. The win helped UTEP join the logjam at 8-5 in Conference USA.
Rice takes down the Roadrunners
Rice beat a resilient Roadrunner team on Thursday. The game was close until the closing minutes when the Owls pulled away to win by 12 in a game that was a lot closer than that. It was their fifth win in a row and they were carried by Marcus Evans. The sophomore guard put up 26 points on nine of 16 shooting and also dished out six assists.
He’s been the Owls best player all year and as only a sophomore, he has a bright future ahead of him. He’s averaging 19.3 points per game, 4.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and over a steal a game. He’s one of the best players in conference already.
The UTEP Miners are:
- (no trends available)
The Rice Owls are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Conference USA.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched, but I like the home team on Saturday. The Owls struggled for much of the year at home, but did beat Charlotte by 17 in their most recent home game. I also think they are slightly more talented than the Miners, and I look for them to win a relatively close game but get the cover.