Time: Thursday, March 30, 2023, 9:40 PM, EST (ESPN 2)
Location: Orleans Arena (Paradise, Nevada)
North Texas vs UAB Best Odds
This years’ NIT has been an exciting watch with close games throughout the tournament, but especially of late. Both semi final games were decided by two points and went down to the last possession. With UAB and North Texas both being in the Conference USA, they know each other well and Thursday’s game is sure to reflect that. This is the fourth time these two squads have met this season, with North Texas coming away with two wins thus far.
UAB Blazers (29-10)
The Blazers have stormed through their NIT competition, winning each game by an average of 11.5 points. Their 10th highest-scoring offense has been on fire lately, scoring 80 points per game in the tournament. In their 88-86 semi-final win over Utah Valley, UAB’s go-to guy, Jordan Walker, shot only 5-23 from the field, but the rest of the team picked up the slack. Walker, who averages 22.4 points per game, attempts a shot on 34% of the team’s possessions, and for a player with that high of a usage rate to shoot that poorly and for the team to still score 88 points and advance shows how dangerous they can be when Walker bounces back on Thursday.
UAB likes to push the pace and run their opposition out of the gym. They shoot the seventh-most shots per game in the country (63.8) and also rebound the ball at a high rate, grabbing 41.1 per game, the second-most in the country. Although North Texas has a strong defense, the Blazers’ offense has had no issues scoring against the Mean Green this season, averaging 77.5 points in three games. They will need to continue that and more to bring home the title.
The Mean Green play an entirely different style of basketball than the Blazers. Instead of scoring a lot and playing at a fast pace, North Texas likes to slow it down and play to their main strength: defense. The Mean Green allow the least amount of points in the country (55.7) and have continued their dominance through the NIT, allowing only 55.4 points per game. Although their offense has struggled, their stout defensive efforts have allowed them to win games by an average of 11 points.
North Texas is led by Tyler Perry, the senior guard averaging 17.2 points while shooting almost 42% from beyond the arc. The Mean Green have already beaten the Blazers twice this season, but this might be their toughest challenge yet. They will have to rely on their top defense to hold down UAB and regulate the pace in order for their offense to keep up. With the drastic difference in playstyles and the familiarity between the coaches and teams, this game is sure to go down to the wire.
In what is sure to be a tight game, UAB’s offense looks to be too hot right now. They are scoring at will and with their best player ready to explode, we expect UAB to cover the -2 point spread and win the NIT Championship.