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The UTSA Roadrunners and UAB Blazers will contest the 4 vs. 5 quarterfinal game of the Conference USA Tournament at the Ford Center in Frisco, Tex. on Thursday. UTSA snagged the fourth seed and a first-round bye thanks to 11-7 in conference play. The Blazers (10-8 C-USA) settled for the No. 5 seed and defeated Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday.
Blazing a decent trail
The Blazers went into the C-USA Tournament on a positive note, as they just scored a win over the league’s regular-season champion. There was a rough stretch in which UAB lost four straight games–two to Middle Tennessee, then to Old Dominion and Charlotte, but they recovered to an extent with consecutive road wins over Marshall (which subsequently got hot), Western Kentucky (the pre-season C-USA favorite), and defensively-stout Southern Miss. Then the Blazers lost games to Western Kentucky and UTSA before ending the regular season with a 64-50 win over Old Dominion in which they held the Monarchs to just 30 percent shooting. That late momentum carried over into round one this week, as UAB beat Middle Tennessee State 70-61 on Wednesday.
The Blazers are now 18-13 SU (10-8 in C-USA action during the regular season) and 13-15-1 ATS. It’s worth noting that ODU had already secured the No. 1 seed in the C-USA Tournament before playing UAB, but the defensive effort was impressive anyway. Zack Bryant leads the team in scoring (14.3 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg), while Lewis Sullivan is the rebounding leader at 6.8 rpg and has a ranking of 41st nationally in turnover rate); he is averaging less than one per contest. UAB has played against two teams that are currently ranked–-it lost an 81-63 decision to Florida State and took in-state rival Auburn (now 20th in the AP rankings) to overtime before losing 75-71 on Dec. 15.
The Roadrunners are 1-1 against UAB this season, including a win on March 3 in the home finale at the Convocation Center via a 76-70 decision. UAB posted an 83-73 victory over visiting UTSA on Jan. 19. A pair of dynamic sophomore scoring guards pace the UTSA offensive attack in Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson. Wallace leads the team with 34.7 minutes per game and contributes 20.5 points per outing. Jackson leads the conference with 22.4 ppg in just 30.7 minutes per contest.
After Jackson–the 2017-18 C-USA Freshman of the Year–suffered a season-ending injury late in his first collegiate campaign and missed the first three games of this one (all UTSA losses), he returned on a minutes restriction for the next five contests before being inserted in the starting lineup over the last 23 games. During those 23, UTSA is 15-8 SU and Jackson is averaging 23.7 ppg in 33.3 mpg. UTSA’s No. 4 seed marks its highest in its time in the C-USA and its longest since 2005 in the Southland Conference. It is seeking its fifth NCAA Tournament berth and its first since 2010-11.
The UTSA Roadrunners are:
- 4-1 Under in their last five overall
- 4-1 Under in their last five games following a loss
- 12-3 Under in their last 15 games following an ATS loss
The UAB Blazers are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall
- 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games following a win
- 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
UTSA is a bit undermanned at the moment, so this is a nice opportunity for the Blazers. Their last two performances have been outstanding, especially in the department of defense. They ended Wednesday’s tilt especially strong, outscoring MTSU 37-27 in the second half. UAB is 5-2 ATS in its last seven against Conference USA.
Prediction: UAB Blazers
Full-Game Total Pick
For the last two games, the Roadrunners have been without senior forward Nick Allen–a 6’9” forward who ranks third on the team in points per game (9.0). Allen suffered a broken toe in the matchup with ODU on Feb. 28 and played off the bench in the win over UAB on senior day. Allen owns the program record for games played in his career (128) and his absence cannot be overlooked. The under is 5-2 in the Blazers’ last seven overall and 4-1 in their last five at neutral sites. It is also 4-1 in the Roadrunners’ last five overall and 4-1 in their last five following a loss. Look for this one to stay under the total.