Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#757 UTSA -1 vs.
#758 Rice 159
Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#757 University of Texas at San Antonio
#758 Rice University
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The UTSA Roadrunners will head to Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston, Texas on Saturday night for a Conference USA showdown against the Rice Owls.

Rice has lost eight of its last nine contests, including seven of its first eight conference games. The Owls have faced a tough schedule to start the C-USA season, playing five of their first eight games away from home. Meanwhile, UTSA has yet to win a conference game on the road this season and they have just one road win so far this year. Can the Owls bounce back with a win at home against UTSA on Saturday night?

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Jackson's 37 not enough for Roadrunners vs. North Texas

UTSA was unable to keep up with North Texas on Thursday night, falling 98-78 on the road against the Mean Green despite 37 points from star guard Jhivvan Jackson. Jackson shot 10-for-21 from the field and 5-for-10 from 3-point range on the night and Keaton Wallace added 24 points for the Roadrunners, who never led en route to their second loss in three games.

Steve Henson’s squad comes into the weekend ranked No. 184 in the latest KenPom rankings despite ranking among the worst defensive teams in the country. The Roadrunners have scored 105.5 points per 100 possessions for the season (96th in the NCAA) while turning the ball over just 17.8 percent of the time (77th in the NCAA). However, both of those numbers have been trending in the wrong direction during league play. They have scored 104.3 points per 100 possessions during conference play (5th in C-USA) while turning the ball over 18.2 percent of the time (6th in C-USA). Henson has given his squad the green light from long-range and they’ve responded by shooting 44.3 percent of their total field goal attempts from beyond the arc (6th in C-USA) during league play. They have shot 38.1 percent from deep (3rd in C-USA) and 78.2 percent from the free-throw line (4th in C-USA) but only 49.6 percent from 2-point range (10th in C-USA) during the conference season.

On defense, the Roadrunners have given up 107.0 points per 100 possessions (286th in the NCAA) on the year and 104.9 points per 100 possessions versus C-USA opponents (11th in C-USA).

Rice falls 1-7 C-USA play after loss to UTEP

Rice pushed its slide to a season-long four games on Thursday night with a 72-64 loss at home against UTEP. Robert Martin came off of the bench to lead the team in scoring with 20 points while Ako Adams chipped in 17 for the Owls, who shot just 10-for-24 from long-range on the night. Rice took a late two-point lead with under seven minutes remaining but UTEP closed the game on a 19 to 9 run to send the Owls to 1-7 in league play.

Scott Pera is trying to right the ship in Houston after watching the Owls lose eight of their previous nine games. Rice has scored only 101.3 points per 100 possessions for the season and that number has come down to just 97.3 points per 100 possessions versus C-USA opponents (9th in C-USA). The Owls aren’t shy about letting it fly from deep, as they rank third in the country, shooting 49.7 percent of their total attempts from 3-point range on the year. However, they’ve shot just 30.9 percent from deep during conference play (9th in C-USA) and while ranking 11th in the conference in offensive rebounding rate and 10th in free-throw rate.

On defense, Rice has given up a whopping 107.1 points per 100 possessions for the season (288th in the NCAA) and they’ve been even worse during league play, allowing 110.7 points per 100 possessions versus C-USA opponents (13th in C-USA). The Owls have given up an effective field goal percentage of 54.5 percent (14th in C-USA) during conference play while allowing teams to shoot a red-hot 60.4 percent from 2-point range (14th in C-USA).

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This is going to be a difficult game to predict. UTSA is obviously the more talented team, especially on offense, but they haven’t shown the ability to win on the road during conference play. Meanwhile, Rice is 1-2 at home during league play and they’ve dropped four straight conference games. The Owls shoot nearly half of their shots from long-range but they’ve connected at a rate of just 30.9 percent (9th in C-USA) and UTSA has limited conference opponents to just 31.8 percent shooting from long-range (6th in C-USA). Rice ranks dead-last in the league in effective field goal percentage defense and 2-point defense, so it is hard to see them stopping Roadrunners’ star Jhivvan Jackson here. Take UTSA to cover the number on the road in this C-USA battle on Saturday night. 

Prediction: UTSA Roadrunners

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Both of these teams like to get up-and-down the floor and neither squad has displayed any interest in getting stops on the defensive end, so expect this to be a high-scoring game. Rice ranks 81st in the country in adjusted tempo and 93rd in average possession length on offense. Meanwhile, UTSA ranks 17th and 75th, respectively, in those categories. The Roadrunners and Owls also shoot a ton of 3-point shots, so we should see plenty of fireworks in this one. Take this Conference USA battle to go over the projected total on Saturday night.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.