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The Morehead State Eagles (21-10, 17-10 ATS, 10-16 O/U) battle the UAB Blazers (23-8, 12-16-2 ATS, 21-9 O/U) in the second round of the NIT Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles stunned Clemson in the first round. The Blazers clobbered Southern Mississippi in their first-round bout.
Morehead State Records Upset Victory
The Morehead State Eagles enter this one with confidence. They were dealt a disappointing 65-58 loss to SE Missouri State in the opening round of the Ohio Valley tourney but answered with a stunning 68-64 win against Clemson in the opening round of the NIT on Wednesday. They were mammoth 15-point dogs in the victory. Morehead State is 8-2 in their last ten and have been reliable, covering the spread in eight of their last ten games.
Mark Freeman has scored at least 13 points in three consecutive games including 19 points against Clemson. The senior guard has reached the 20 points mark six times and is sporting an average of 15.1 PPG. Alex Gross has recorded three double-doubles in his last eight clashes. The senior forward scored 16 points in Wednesday’s victory and is averaging 12 PPG and 7.5 RPG. Drew Thelwell has netted double-digits in four of his last five bouts. The sophomore guard has increased his season average to 11 PPG.
EAGLES TAKE THE LEAD!@MSUEaglesMBB | #NIT2023 | #NITMBB— NITMBB (@NITMBB) March 16, 2023
📺 ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/6TX4RipGFD
Morehead State is ranked 234th in DI in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and is 8-8 on the road this season. They are not a high-scoring team, averaging 70.6 points on the season, marking them 199th. The defense has been outstanding, allowing 67 or fewer in nine of their last ten clashes, and are conceding a season average of 66.5 points, placing them 77th.
UAB Dominates in NIT Opener
The #4 seed UAB Blazers came one game away from the NCAA Tournament but are one of the better squads remaining in the NIT. They were two-point favorites in a 78-56 loss by FAU in the C-USA championship game. UAB rebounded from that one by posting a dominating 88-60 win against Southern Mississippi in the opening round to cover the large 8.5-point spread on Tuesday night. The Blazers are 9-1 in their last ten clashes and have covered the spread in three of their last four games.
Jordan Walker is one of the best players in DI. The senior guard has eclipsed the 30 points mark on several occasions. He has cooled down a bit recently after scoring 16 points on Tuesday and has delivered an average of 23.2 PPG on the season. Eric Gaines hasn’t been at his best, shooting 40% or lower in three consecutive games. The sophomore guard has amassed an average of 11.6 PPG and 4.5 APG. KJ Buffen registered 26 points in the first-round victory. The senior forward has collected six double-doubles and has posted an average of 10.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG.
Jelly gets us started pic.twitter.com/agEQTqEmIm— UAB Men's Basketball (@UAB_MBB) March 12, 2023
The Blazers are ranked 52nd in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and are sporting a dominating 16-2 record on their home court. UAB has reached 80 points in six of their last ten games and is scoring an average of 82.2 points on the season, good for ninth. The Blazers are conceding an average of 71 points, positioning them 206th.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Morehead State Eagles play in a weak Ohio Valley conference and have poor advanced metrics. The UAB Blazers were just one victory away from a berth in the NCAA Tournament and were the best team in the C-USA this season. They are sporting a 23-8 record and are 9-1 in their last ten games.
Furthermore, Morehead State is a weak offensive squad. They are only averaging 100.8 points per 100 possessions, pegging them 265th in DI while UAB is posting 112.6 points per 100, making this spread more than reasonable. The Blazers are also conceding seven fewer points per 100 than the Eagles. UAB has a dynamic player in Jordan Walker who has the ability to carry a squad to victory. He is averaging a dazzling 23 PPG on the season.
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Full-Game Total Pick
I expect plenty of scoring. Morehead State is efficient from three-point range where they are shooting a solid 35.7% on the season and are capable of big numbers as a result. UAB plays at a quick pace, ranking 30th in adjusted tempo. and should result in an increase in offense by Morehead State.
In addition, UAB is consistently producing, netting at least 76 points in eight of their last ten games including a remarkable 88 points in the round one victory on Tuesday. UAB's offensive production has not dipped in playoff basketball, averaging 77 points in their four tournament games.